Technology

Facebook sets up data centre in Lapland, Sweden

Father Christmas and reindeer in Lapland
Image caption It isn't the native inhabitants that have driven Facebook to Lapland

Facebook is heading to Swedish Lapland, lured not by Father Christmas, but because of the climate.

Temperatures in the city of Lulea, in the north-east of the country, make it the perfect location for the social media giant's first non-US data centre.

It means it can use outside air for cooling its servers for up to 10 months of the year.

The facility will process data from Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It will cover 30,000 square metres.

That is the equivalent of around 11 football pitches.

The social network needs to ramp up its computing power as it continues to grow. It currently has more than 800 million users.

'Like Lego'

Image caption The mayor of Lulea is very happy to have Facebook in his city

Up until 2009 Facebook leased space in data centres but then made the decision to design and build its own.

The new centre will be powered primarily by renewable energy and will require 70% less generator power.

It will also benefit from Lulea's electricity prices which are some of the cheapest in Europe.

Gaining a global brand like Facebook will be a big coup for the city and it hopes others will follow.

More companies are placing their data centres in Northern Europe because the climate works well for the cooling systems necessitated by racks of huge servers.

Facebook prides itself on the fact that its engineers have built its infrastructure from scratch - including the design of the servers themselves.

"Assembling the servers is like building a Lego model, the parts snap together. The servers slot in and out of their racks by flipping a couple of catches," the firm explained.

The design of the fans mean they consume far less energy than a traditional server, it added.

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