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Facebook joins Apple and Google in data center wonderland

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Facebook has announced plans for a second custom-built data center, saying it will build a $450 million facility in western North Carolina, which is suddenly a big-name data-center hot bed.

Apple and Google have already built high-profile data centers in the Great North State, which isn't really in the North. It's in the South. But enough with vagaries of American geography. The big names are there because of the tax cuts.

As part of its move from leased data-center space to facilities of its own, Facebook is already building another facility in Prineville, Oregon. Its planned North Carolina facility — in Rutherford County — will cover 300,00 square feet. During its 18-month construction, it's expected to create more than 250 jobs, and when it's finished, it will employ roughly 35 to 45 full-time and contract workers.

The Prineville data center will use a Google-like chillerless design. Facebook will use outside air and evaporated water to cool the facility. Outside air will be used about 60 to 70 per cent of the time, with the "evaporative cooling system" taking the reins when outside temperature and humidity rises above acceptable levels.

It's unclear whether the North Carolina facility will attempt a similar setup — the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment — but it's unlikely. Temperatures and humidity in North Carolina are absolutely brutal for much of the year. ®

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