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Facebook Will Ice Backup Data in ‘Sub-Zero’ Building

• Robert McMillan via

We now know what Facebook is up to in Sub-Zero — the mini data center it’s building right beside its 330,000-square-foot Prineville, Oregon, facility: It’s reinventing the way it does emergency backup.

The plan is to use the building to house a brand-new type of low-power deep-storage device that Facebook engineers will cook up over the next six to nine months. They’re designing a hard-disk storage server that powers off when it’s not in use, says Tom Furlong, vice president of site operations at Facebook. “It’s going to sit in a dedicated building that is optimized to support this device that we don’t need to access very often.”

What will this building be like? Boxy and quiet, with rows of low-powered machines clicking on and off, says Furlong.

The company disclosed the existence of the the new building in recently filed planning permits. In the permits, Facebook called the building Sub-Zero, though Furlong says he’s not using that name in public (the Sub-Zero trademark is already taken by a line of high-end refrigerators, thank you very much).

In addition to the 62,000-square-foot Sub-Zero building, Facebook is in the process of building a second 330,000-square-foot data center in Prineville. Just down the road from the Facebook facility, Apple is constructing its own dataplex, this one with 500,000 square feet of server-rack space.

Sub-Zero will do the kind of large-scale deep archiving that some companies still achieve with tape backup.


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