Second Facebook Building In Luleå, Sweden, To Test New Rapid Deployment Data Center Concept


LuleaRendering650The newly announced second building at Facebook’s data center in Luleå, Sweden, will be the first of the social network’s data centers to be built using its new rapid deployment data center concept, which leans on modular and lean construction principles, much like those demonstrated by Swedish furniture giant Ikea.

Facebook Data Center Design Engineering Manager Marco Magarelli said in a post on the Open Compute Project blog that the social network’s data center strategic engineering and development team enlisted the help of lean construction experts to hack on a data center design that would be less like a construction project and more like a manufactured product.

The chassis approach was the first concept to come out of the October 2012 hack. According to Magarelli, it involves concepts borrowed from the automobile industry: Assembled steel frames 12 feet wide and 40 feet long have components such as cable trays, power busways, containment panels, and lighting pre-installed on an assembly line. This helps avoid shipping the empty space that the server racks will eventually occupy.


The second concept from the hack was the flat-pack approach, in which the data center walls are panelized and fit into standard, easily transportable modules, using standard building products such as metal studs and preassembled unitized containment panels, and limiting their size to eight feet wide in order to load as much as possible on to flatbed trailers and avoid the need for wide-load permits.


Magarelli wrote that 364 identical wall panels are used in each data hall, and the ceiling panels use Epicore metal deck product, which spans the 12 feet width of the cold aisle and racks and supports the trays, power bus, and light fixtures below it using a proprietary hanger clip for the threaded rods.

He also outlined the following benefits of using the RDDC concept to construct data centers:

  • Site-agnostic design: By deploying pre-manufactured assemblies, a majority of the components can be used interchangeably. The goal is to be deployable wherever we seek to build next. It’s our hope that by standardizing the designs of our component assemblies, much like we do with OCP servers, we can deploy a unitized data center into almost any region in the world faster, leaner, and more cost-effectively. Performing more of the assembly in a controlled environment and at ground level also reduces assembly time.
  • Reduced on-site impact: The RDDC concept will deploy pre-engineered unitized modules that minimize the amount of time required for heavy equipment on site and overall time to complete a data hall. The modules reduce the generation of on-site waste and the impacts associated with the delivery and staging of individual construction materials common to traditional construction techniques.
  • Improved execution and workmanship: Having a predictable and repeatable product delivered to the site allows local teams to easily replicate the quality and fit from one region to another. Our RDDC design will produce this result by using explicit assembly instructions with established tolerances.

Facebook added in a note on its Luleå Data Center page:

RDDC involves the use of pre-made modular sections that are assembled on-site, reducing the duration and local impact of building work. Just as the great Swedish company Ikea revolutionized how furniture is designed and built, we hope that Luleå 2 will become a model for the next generation of data centers.

As well as refining the construction process, we aim to make our facilities as energy-efficient as possible once they are up and running. Over the past year at Luleå 1, we have been able to achieve an average power usage effectiveness of approximately 1.05, meaning that almost every watt going into our data center is used to run the computing equipment. Elsewhere in the industry, PUE figures of 2 or more are not uncommon, with valuable energy being used to operate auxiliary systems such as air conditioning.

What electricity we do use comes from hydroelectric power, generated on the nearby Lule River. This same renewable source will be used to run Luleå 2.

Readers: What do you think of Facebook’s use of the RDDC concept?