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Facebook's Oregon Data Center Uses As Much Power As Entire County 208

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the zynga-unveils-reactor-ville dept.
1sockchuck writes "The first phase of the Facebook data center in Oregon uses 28 megawatts of utility power, local officials said this week. That's not extraordinary for a facility of that size in most data center hubs. But it stands out in Crook County, Oregon where all the homes and business other than Facebook use 30 megawatts of power. The economics of Facebook's presence in Oregon are outlined in a new study, which asserts that the Prineville facility has brought tens of millions of dollars into the local economy. The second phase of the Facebook project is now underway, and the local utility grid is being expanded to add capacity." The study claiming economic benefits was commissioned by Facebook (reader beware).
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Facebook's Oregon Data Center Uses As Much Power As Entire County

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  • Indeed (Score:5, Funny)

    by korgitser (1809018) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @06:19AM (#38875253)

    I have always noticed, the bigger you get, the more power hungry...

  • All this.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by undulato (2146486) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @06:26AM (#38875289) Homepage
    ..so that you can tell people what you had for your breakfast. And then show them.
  • by jamesjw (213986) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @06:27AM (#38875293) Homepage

    But then i'd be purpetuating the problem somewhat :)

  • Facebook... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SeaFox (739806) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @06:27AM (#38875299)

    a source of pollution both on the Net and off.

    • by larys (2559815)
      If beauty is truth, in my eyes, that sentence is gorgeous...
    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Isn't this datacenter powered from hydroelectric power? I think everyone is against burning fossil fuels for power (yay environment!), but whatever environmental damage damming the columbia river did happened 70 years ago. In terms of cleanest, cheapest power, there are few places better suited for a datacenter.

      • Re:Facebook... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:36AM (#38876311)

        Isn't this datacenter powered from hydroelectric power? I think everyone is against burning fossil fuels for power (yay environment!), but whatever environmental damage damming the columbia river did happened 70 years ago. In terms of cleanest, cheapest power, there are few places better suited for a datacenter.

        Except that power is dumped onto a grid. If Facebook pulls 32megawatts from the grid, and the hydroelectric dam is providing it, then somebody else's coal plant (or nuclear) is making up the difference. Wasted electricity is wasted electricity.

        • Although, In the NW, hydrolectric is something like 85% of the power grid.

          • 55.4% hydro in Oregon. This is down from 73.6% in 2000, according to the Energy Information Administration. [eia.gov] The slack has been taken up by everybody's favorite fossil fuel, gas, at 17.6% in 2010, now at 28.4%.

            • by afabbro (33948)

              55.4% hydro in Oregon. This is down from 73.6% in 2000, according to the Energy Information Administration. [eia.gov] The slack has been taken up by everybody's favorite fossil fuel, gas, at 17.6% in 2010, now at 28.4%.

              Everyone's favorite fossil fuel is oil (and from it, gasoline). We don't burn oil or gasoline for electricity generation.

              We do however use a lot of natural gas, which does not come from fossils.

              • We do however use a lot of natural gas, which does not come from fossils.

                Where do you think it comes from, Unicorn farts?

        • by Hadlock (143607)

          Yeah... in California. Washington State is a net-exporter of energey. Washington state exports most of their power generated to SF and LA. Its't true.

          So don't worry, the spotted owls in Washington won't be hurt by the power plants in 1800 miles away in Los Angeles - the 15 million people in the LA metro area are doing their best to filter their dirty air using their ULEV Priuses and with their lungs.

          If the people in LA want cleaner air, they're going to have to lobby their state legislature

      • Lest We forget- The environmental damage caused 70 years ago [nwcouncil.org] changed the economy of 8 states- a trading network that had been in place for 10,000 years.

  • How much sooner do I have to give up internal combustion engines so that my girlfriend can play farmville? That indian from the 70's is gonna cry a helluva lot more than a single tear when he hears this news.

    • by detritus. (46421)

      Except he was a white guy who played an indian....

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Fuck ICEs. How much sooner will I be able to have an electric car because of all the development going into batteries because of the proliferation of portable devices?

      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        Fuck ICEs. How much sooner will I be able to have an electric car because of all the development going into batteries because of the proliferation of portable devices?

        Keep on waiting. The engineering project got shelved in favor of coding "Farmville 3: the revenge of the pigs". Big money in Apps these days, don't cha know.

  • by carlhaagen (1021273) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @06:39AM (#38875351)
    ...when it costs more energy to blog about your breakfast than it does actually cooking it.
    • by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:52AM (#38875693) Homepage Journal

      ..when it costs more energy to blog about your breakfast than it does actually cooking it.

      You can do both at the same time on a Pentium 4.

  • by vikingpower (768921) <exercitussolus&gmail,com> on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @06:39AM (#38875357) Homepage Journal
    If it takes as high a power consumption as that of an entire US county to let all these non-grown-ups post their weekend pics in order to make eachother even more envious, then that is one more solid argument against the whole Facebook craze. Down and away with it.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      yes let's all stop using the internet.

      that power is nothing compared to the power it takes to slashdot a site or to the power it takes to run the machines used for reading facebook.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      Are you kidding? Without a place to store all of that inane drivel, some of those people might eventually end up here.

      I've already heard more than enough about people's morning dumps in various first posts over the years.

    • by delinear (991444) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:22AM (#38875835)
      What do you think all those people would do if they weren't using Facebook? It's not like we'd turn off Facebook and everyone then goes out and plants trees as an alternative. As a means for keeping in touch with friends and family I'd say a site like Facebook has got to be more energy efficient than, say, driving or flying out to visit people on a regular basis.
      • What do you think all those people would do if they weren't using Facebook?

        Personally, I was hoping they'd all hang themselves. But that's just me being unsocial again.

    • by kiwimate (458274) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:24AM (#38876201) Journal

      And Slashdot is any better?

      At least Facebook allows you to delete your account (keeping data around is another story). Slashdot doesn't even bother pretending.

      How can I delete my account?

      You can't. The system needs to keep track of the users, so accounts are permanent. Don't sweat leaving unused accounts hanging around. It doesn't hurt anything.

      • The difference between Slashdot and Facebook is that Slashdot is entirely public. Even Slashdot journals are world-readable, the most you can do is restrict who can comment on them. There is no point in deleting a Slashdot account, because anything you've ever posted is already public and may be mirrored by things like archive.org or the Google cache. There is a point in deleting a Facebook account, because it's a means of contacting you (users can't send messages to other Slashdot users), and because th
    • by Wovel (964431)

      Non-grown-ups?

      You have not quite reached 2012 yet. You should go back a few years and feel superior in a different decade.

    • by kiwimate (458274)

      It's also a great argument against Slashdot (non-grown-ups posting their rhetoric to engage in mutual onanism and accomplish zilch).

    • I heard on the news this morning that Facebook has finally filed papers with the SEC to go public. If it happens like every other Software IPO EVER the mass craptitude of the project will go to infinity soon after, as shareholders take profit at the expense of R&D.

  • Utility / power grids are usually financed with tax money. That means taxpayer.

    Is Facebook paying for this upgrade? It damned well better be!!!
  • Crook County (Score:5, Informative)

    by dabadab (126782) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @06:45AM (#38875381)

    I looked it up so you don't have to: Crook County is inhabited by 20k people, its economy largely consists of agriculture and tourism so it's no wonder that they do not use massive amounts of electricity.

    • by Seumas (6865)

      Same here. Why would anyone be surprised that a data center that serves about one billion people uses more power than a county with less than 20,000?

    • When I was a kid, my family would go to Prineville reservoir in the Summer. I think we doubled the population.

    • by faedle (114018)

      This.

      If you live in the Pacific Northwest, it's a bit of a fun drive to head out to Prineville and play "Spot the Datacenter." It's so out of place it's real easy to spot. It took me all of about 10 minutes of driving around to find it.

      • This.

        If you live in the Pacific Northwest, it's a bit of a fun drive to head out to Prineville and play "Spot the Datacenter." It's so out of place it's real easy to spot. It took me all of about 10 minutes of driving around to find it.

        Wow. Things must be getting pretty dull down there if is it's a 'bit of fun' to go look for a datacenter. Don't you all have Starbucks or anything?

  • It'd be a pity if they got raided by the DEA. [slashdot.org] A real pity.

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      With all the pictures of people doing illegal substances I'm sure are on Facebook, I would think having the DEA raid the place for evidence isn't that far of a stretch.

  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @06:57AM (#38875463)
    A few years ago I visited a nuclear power station, and 28 Megawatt was about the output of the ship's diesel engine that they had on standby for emergency power supply to be able to run cooling systems etc. in case the power station itself breaks down and it can't get power from other power stations. I think it is also about what a large cruise ship needs for all its electrical needs. Seems to be a very small county that they are talking about.
    • by tsadi (576706)

      You're right, 28MW is not a lot. I've seen a 20MW diesel generator, and the engine is just a little bigger than a construction dump truck.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I've seen a 1.21 GW generator too and it's only the size of a DeLorean.

    • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:53AM (#38876009)

      The most obvious comparison is its about 10 or so modern diesel electric locomotive engines, if you assume 2500 or so HP per engine, which is probably not a bad guess for your average generic engine... Spare me the anecdote that there exist like 4 Aclea Express engines in the USA that have 6000 HP, and I'm well aware coming from a three generation railroad family that there are some astounding coal haulers out there.

      There are probably more than 10 diesels in my county right now... coal plant, despite the best efforts of the govt some industry still remains, multiple short range commuter rail and also some long range commuter rail, multiple intermodal transfer stations, a small but respectable great lakes "sea"port (which is admittedly frozen in right now)

  • by Trogre (513942) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:16AM (#38875521) Homepage

    Did anyone else read that as Country? That would have been news-worthy.

    • by Cimexus (1355033)

      It could be one very small country :) Like, I dunno, Vatican City.

      • Re:Entire county (Score:5, Informative)

        by FrootLoops (1817694) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:14AM (#38876119)

        That's what I thought initially. The CIA World Factbook includes electricity consumption statistics [cia.gov] for many countries and regions. Note that they're listed in kWh per year; 28 MW translates to about 245,000,000 kWh per year. This puts the data center at around #174 on that list, ahead of Rwanda, Eritrea, Belize, Bhutan, Chad, and Tonga, to pick a few (though note that the data for many of those countries is a few years old, so they may have moved up). For comparison, the entire US is listed at 3,741,000,000,000 kWh per year. This data center is then around 0.007% of the US's power usage.

        Since there are something like 3000 counties [wikipedia.org] in the US, assuming uniform distribution, an average sized county would have 1/3000 = ~0.033% of the country's electricity consumption. This county then has around 7/33 ~= 21% of the average population. That average would be ~300 million / 3000 = 100,000 people per county: and indeed, Crook County, Oregon has approximately 21,000 [wikipedia.org] = 100,000 * 21% people. So actually the electricity consumption of the county appears to be quite average, even though it sounds rural from the Wikipedia page.

      • Vatican City, thanks to "The Green Pope", is carbon neutral and now runs mostly on solar. Plus, it's smaller than Crook County.

    • by faedle (114018)

      Ever been to Eastern Oregon? It kinda is it's own little country.

  • by srussia (884021) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:45AM (#38875649)
    The Gore (G). The power consumption at Al Gore's house in August 2007 was around 23,000 kWh.

    That gives an average draw of around 30kW.

    So this baby sucks a nice round 1 kiloGore (1kG).
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:02AM (#38875735)
    Article's a bit light on any details... but that facility has to deal with all that heat somehow... and using it to provide heating for local residents would be a very good use of it.
    • by tgd (2822)

      Article's a bit light on any details... but that facility has to deal with all that heat somehow... and using it to provide heating for local residents would be a very good use of it.

      There's a reason, outside of extremely dense cities, you don't see heat distribution happen -- its horrendously inefficient and expensive.

      Crook County is farm-country.

    • by faedle (114018)

      Part of the reason Prineville is attractive is the local ambient temperature. Many of the datacenter projects (including Facebook) in eastern Oregon use ambient outside air to cool the datacenter most of the year.

  • by strack (1051390) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:25AM (#38875845)
    i read that as country. i shit bricks for a fraction of a second. but thats long enough.
    • Actually a few particularly underdeveloped countries are below the data center in electricity consumption (eg. Rwanda; Bhutan). I put the details in a comment above under the "Entire county" thread.
  • Close your FaceBook account.

  • I wish someone who couldn't be ignored would make a public challenge to Facebook to make greener data centers. Combine all of the modern power conservation technology with all of the new clean renewable power generation tech they can reasonably afford.

    Basically, when you read Facebook in the United States you are burning coal.

  • by Wovel (964431) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @10:45AM (#38876999) Homepage

    It is funny how a grossly misleading story can make everyone on /. think this is a lot of power. I know a lot of the posters are trying to feel superior, but using more power than a rural county in Oregon is in no way significant.

  • I believe FB is mainly written in PHP. I assume PHP would get less work done per watt than most other languages, but would it be a significant difference? e.g. could FB reduce their power consumption by 25% by switching to some other language? Perhaps 90% of the watts are devoted to database I/O, in which case language would make little difference.
  • by hey! (33014)

    Whenever you're given a comparison like this, you ought to look closely at the things being compared.

    Crook County OR has roughly 21 thousand residents spread out over almost three thousand square miles. The urban suburb I grew up in (Somerville, MA) has over *75* thousand residents crammed into four square miles. For that matter the Queensbridge Housing Project in NYC has almost seven thousand residents in an area about 20-30 acres. You could say, "Facebook's data center uses two and a half times theenerg

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