Scandinavian cool: Inside Facebook’s Arctic data center

With over 1.65 billion users, Facebook has to manage what most tech companies would regard as an overwhelming amount of data. The company isn’t shy about showing off the impressive facilities that house its servers, offering glimpses into its mammoth data centers at regular intervals. Thanks to Facebook’s founder and CEO we now have our first detailed look at the firm’s most unique location.

The Lulea data center is tucked deep within the forests of northern Sweden, just 70 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Mark Zuckerberg shared a series of annotated photos of the building, its interior, and its staff on his official Facebook page, which boasts over 81 million followers.

Facebook started work on the massive project in 2011, and the completed building as it now stands encompasses the size of six football fields. The local temperature — which can plummet to below 50 degrees on most days — actually works in the site’s favor. According to Zuckerberg, the outside air is pulled within with the help of large fans to help “naturally cool” the thousands of warm servers dotted along the center’s massive hallways.

The location also provides a renewable energy source, courtesy of the hydro-electric plants that operate on nearby rivers in the picturesque region. “The whole system is 10 percent more efficient and uses almost 40 percent less power than traditional data centers,” claims Zuckerberg.

The technology that is housed inside the facility is based on innovative, open-sourced designs from the Open Compute Project (a partnership that sees tech giants share computer infrastructures in order to accelerate their growth). This includes everything from the servers themselves to the building’s power distribution systems. The former are reduced to basics so they do not overheat and can be accessed and repaired quickly. “A few years ago, it took an hour to repair a server hard drive. At Lulea, that’s down to two minutes,” writes Zuckerberg.

In terms of protecting its users’ privacy, Facebook ensures it crushes obsolete hard drives, assigning the critical task to a staff member. Life inside the daunting data center does have its perks. Aside from the stunning views, and state-of-the-art tech, employees are also provided with scooters to maneuver around the main data hall — again illustrating just how huge the Lulea facility is. Overall, 150 staff members work inside the building, but Zuckerberg describes the halls as “frequently empty” due to the lack of maintenance the efficient servers require.

The images depict a facility that matches its sparse surroundings with its steely interiors. Combined with the lack of a human presence, the photos seem like they’re from some long-forgotten expressionist sci-fi film.

“You probably don’t think about Lulea when you share with friends on Facebook, but it’s an example of the incredibly complex technology infrastructure that keeps the world connected,” writes Zuckerberg.

Emerging Tech

Here’s how Facebook taught its Portal A.I. to think like a Hollywood filmmaker

When Facebook introduced its Portal screen-enhanced smart speakers, it wanted to find a way to make video chat as intimate as sitting down for a conversation with a friend. Here's how it did it.
Smart Home

The biggest houses ever, from a personal skyscraper to a tech magnate's mansion

The only thing bigger than these giant homes is their huge price tags. There's a reason many of the owners are billionaires instead of millionaires. Check out the digs of some of the richest people in the world.
Home Theater

Apple is arming up to redefine TV just like it did the phone

Curious about what Apple's answer to Netflix will be? Us too. So we combed through some patents, and looked at the landscape, to come up with a bold prediction: Apple's streaming service will be way bigger than anyone thinks.

Learn to scavenge like a pro with our Far Cry New Dawn crafting guide

Far Cry New Dawn revolves around the hunt -- the hunt for materials to craft new weapons, vehicles, and other useful items. It's easy to miss out on great opportunities to find new materials if you don't go off the beaten path.
Movies & TV

Hilarious new Kickstarter aims to fix Scorcese’s last scene in The Departed

A fan of The Departed and apparent hater of rat-as-symbolism imagery has launched a Kickstarter campaign to digitally erase the rodent from the end of Martin Scorsese’s 2006 movie.
Emerging Tech

Baristas beware, Bbox cafe uses robots to brew your morning coffee

Want your morning coffee and pastry prepared by robot? Bbox, a new coffee shop in downtown Berkeley, California, lets customers place their order by app and then uses automation to take care of the rest.
Emerging Tech

This ridiculous new flamethrower makes Elon Musk’s look like a cigarette lighter

The XL18 Flamethrower is a flame-shooting beast on steroids, capable of firing off bursts of flame more than 110 feet in length. The best part? You can order it over the internet today.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX just nailed its most challenging Falcon 9 rocket landing to date

If you've been following the SpaceX launch calendar, you know this week marks the first launch from Cape Canaveral in two months. We have the details on where you can watch the launch live.
Emerging Tech

Touchdown! Japan successfully lands its Hayabusa2 spacecraft on asteroid Ryugu

Japan's space agency has just completed the latest stage of its extraordinarily complex mission, successfully landing its Hayabusa2 spacecraft on an asteroid millions of miles from Earth.
Emerging Tech

Delivery drones: NASA to test advanced traffic control system for cities

Delivery drone services are edging closer as NASA prepares to demonstrate its advanced drone traffic management system, which it claims offers safe and effective control of autonomous aircraft in urban areas.
Emerging Tech

Kickstarter campaign aims to help make 3D-printed space habitats for Mars

Mars X-House is an ambitious project that's intended to create a prototype future Mars habitat using 3D printing. And, thanks to a new Kickstarter campaign, you can be a part of it.
Emerging Tech

Engineer turns his old Apple lle into an wheeled robot, and even gives it a sword

How do you give new life to a 30-year-old computer? Software engineer Mike Kohn found a way by transforming his old Apple IIe into a wheeled robot. Check it out in all its 1980s glory.
Emerging Tech

Virgin Galactic completes another test flight, this time with a passenger

Virgin Galactic chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses rode the company's spacecraft as a passenger on Friday, a key milestone toward commercial availability of the flights later this year. Moses rode along to test "cabin design elements."
Emerging Tech

Controversial CRISPR baby experiment may have resulted in brain enhancements

China’s CRISPR baby saga continues to rage on. Scientists have now expressed concerns that the procedure may have also resulted in changes in the babies’ brains affecting cognition.