Rumors swirled for a few days before the company finally announced: Facebook will be building its fourth owned and operated data center in Altoona, Iowa (the others are in remote locations in Oregon, North Carolina, and Sweden). According to the company, the new facility will feature Open Compute Project server designs and an outdoor air cooling system, just like the others do.
In a post about the new data center Facebook stated:
"It will also incorporate evolutionary improvements to the building design, networking architecture, and more. When complete, Altoona will be among the most advanced and energy efficient facilities of its kind. We’re excited to have found a new home in Iowa, which has an abundance of wind-generated power and is home to a great talent pool that will help build and operate the facility. We plan to break ground this summer and expect to begin serving user traffic in 2014."
Though Facebook didn't own up to it directly, Iowa lawmakers estimated that the first data center building would take up 476,000 thousand square feet, though there is room on the land plot for more buildings in the future. Facebook will spend at least $299.5 million on the project, but odds are it will cost a whole lot more to get it up and running.
There are other data centers in Iowa -- Microsoft and Google both have big ones there. Typically, large data centers are built near small cities where land is cheaper and labor is available. It is also often the case that states seeking to bolster a tech economy and bring in jobs will offer tax breaks and other incentives to companies willing to break ground nearby. Iowa's governor's web site stated: "The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board approved $18 million in tax benefits through the High Quality Jobs program to Facebook to create at least 31 new jobs at a qualifying wage of $23.12 per hour. Local incentives from the city of Altoona were also approved today," but no word on what those incentives actually are.
Rachel Rosmarin's technology experience goes back a decade to the dawn of Wi-Fi, smartphones and the Mp3. She has an in-depth knowledge of consumer electronics and has cultivated her love of useful new toys and innovative social software at publications including Tom’s Guide, Forbes, 2.0, Sound & Vision and Mobile Magazine. She holds degrees in Journalism and Science In Human Culture from Northwestern University and is based in Los Angeles.
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