Meta Adds 3 Data Centers to Illinois Cloud Campus

A translation of the upcoming Meta data center expansion in DeKalb County, Illinois. Meta adds three data center buildings. (Image: Meta)

Meta continues its unique expansion by preparing its digital infrastructure for the metaverse. Meta will invest more than $ 1 billion to add three more data centers to its cloud campus in DeKalb, Illinois, the company announced today.

Meta is stepping up its data center investments to support its transition from Facebook to Meta, retooling for the needs of the 3D virtual world, which requires more computing power than social media apps . As it developed the software part of its metaverse, Meta built several data centers to ensure that

That means building clustered data centers, as seen in DeKalb’s expansion, that will bring its campus to 2.4 million square feet of data center space and support 200 jobs.

“We are excited to expand our presence in Illinois. The City of DeKalb and the State of Illinois have been good partners from the beginning, and we look forward to continuing a strong and successful partnership in the future. years, ”said Darcy Nothnagle, Director of Community and Economic Development, Meta.

Meta notified the DeKalb data center on June 200, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It typically builds between three and nine buildings on a campus, covering up to 5 million square feet of space. It also provides renewable energy to support each of its campuses. In Illinois, Meta has invested in two new wind energy projects in Morgan and DeWitt counties, adding a total of 295 megawatts of renewable energy to the local grid.

Meta has also partnered with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on a project to use artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce the carbon footprint of our construction.

Meta is still in construction mode to support a growing global audience on its platforms, which include Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. The company recently said it has 47 data centers built, including capacity expansions to existing buildings as well as new construction at multiple sites.

The company seems to be accelerating the construction of its data centers, as evidenced by several new announcements.

  • On April 21, Meta announced that it would add 1 million square feet of capacity to its existing data center campus in New Albany, Ohio.
  • On April 5, the company unveiled plans for a new $ 800 million cloud campus in Temple, Texas, a suburb of Austin.
  • On March 24, it announced an $ 800 million investment in a data center campus in Kansas City, Mo.
  • On Feb. 16, Meta announced that it would build a data center in Kuna, Idaho with an initial investment of $ 800 million.

It’s a crazy pace and is building an active phase of expansion in 2020 and 2021, when Meta launches new data center construction projects in Arizona, Illinois and Tennessee, as well as major expansions in existing campuses in Iowa, Utah, Georgia and Prineville, Oregon, where the company is launching a multi-story data center design with two floors of server rooms to increase capacity.

Meta is also the largest buyer of developer-built third-party “wholesale” data center space, leasing 283 megawatts of capacity in six markets by 2021, according to North American Data Centers. This large lease goes beyond Meta’s internal construction program, as it continues a strategy of building large data center campuses in remote areas, while renting space to developers. in the largest market of data centers.

Creating the data network in the future

The company recently changed its name from Facebook to Meta as part of a new mission to create a metaverse-a globally distributed virtual world that can serve a billion or more users. Meta has already invested more than $ 16 billion in building and operating 18 Facebook cloud campuses in the United States, which when completed will cover 41 million square feet of data center space.

A row of racks for the Meta AI Research SuperCluster (RSC), a new supercomputer capable of generating new AI models. Each rack has two NVIDIA DGX A100 systems. (Image: Meta)

The first indications of how Meta envisions its future infrastructure can be seen in the recent deployment of Research SuperCluster (RSC), the company’s first built data center for the workloads it envisions in the future.

“The experiments we do for the Metaverse require a lot of computing power (quintillion operations / second!),” Says Meta Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “RSC allows new AI models to learn from billions of examples, understand hundreds of languages, and more.”

To understand how a successful metaverse can impact data center infrastructure, it is helpful to zoom out on new high-level analysis from industry watchers. Citi Securities analysts recently put the overall metaverse economy at $ 8 trillion to $ 13 trillion by 2030.

“To realize the true vision of the metaverse, huge investments are required in hardware, network, data center and processing power, orders of magnitude more than what is available in the world today.,” The analysts said. Citi on a research note. “Currently, the internet infrastructure is not suitable for building a fully immersive content streaming metaverse
environment, allowing users to seamlessly transition between experiences. To make the Metaverse vision a reality, we expect significant investment in an encounter with technologies.

Intel experts use the same language about the requirements for a large metaverse.

“We need orders of magnitude more powerful computing capabilities, access at much shorter latencies across all device form factors,” said Raja Koduri, senior vice president and general. manager of computer systems. “To make these capabilities scalable, the entire Internet pipeline will need a lot of upgrades.”

Data center infrastructure is only part of this growth. Much of the technological innovation to support the metaverse can be seen in the power of processing and networking. RSC was the first Meta-to-supercomputing infrastructure for the Metaverse, but it was mostly made using the off-the-shelf hardware available today. Future releases will include custom hardware that is well-tailored for Meta application requirements.

A high-end Meta OCP Wedge 400C server running in a Facebook data center.  (Image: Meta)

A high-end Meta OCP Wedge 400C server running in a Facebook data center. (Image: Meta)

The most important area of ​​innovation is networking. Meta is already struggling to work with it, as can be seen in the new networking hardware it deployed for the Open Compute Project Summit, including the next-generation top-of-rack switch, an important part of data center networks.

The hardware innovation ecosystem of the Open Compute Project will be key to building an infrastructure that can meet the computing challenges of the metaverse. Sharing this technology is obviously extending the benefits of this innovation to other companies with metaverse ambitions.

The Internet infrastructure provides an economic boost

Investing in data centers where the metaverse can impact local communities and their economies. DeKalb’s increased Meta investment is a good example.

“With more than 1,200 site construction workers per day at the Meta DeKalb Data Center and plans to support hundreds of permanent employees when fully available, everyone in Illinois can agree that the data center project data has been a benefit to Illinois and a huge benefit .to the City of DeKalb and DeKalb County, “said Paul Borek, executive director, DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation. “The expansion proves that Illinois, and especially DeKalb County, can meet the needs of large global corporations that need skilled workers, modern infrastructure, and a strong and competitive business environment.”

“The Meta impact within the City of DeKalb is more than an economic impact,” said Mayor Cohen Barnes, City of DeKalb, IL. “From day one, they made a concerted effort to have a greater impact on DeKalb.”

This includes Meta’s Community Action Grant Program, which works with schools and nonprofits in communities where companies build data centers. The program will launch in DeKalb County in the fall of 2022.

“From the moment Meta announced plans to expand its facilities in DeKalb County, company representatives began to engage the community in meaningful ways: as a partner in the local think-tank issue, generous supporter of community events and a progressive employer, ”said Drs. Lisa Freeman, President, Northern Illinois University.

De Kalb is about an hour west of Chicago in central Illinois, more in the Suburban Chicago area. It’s worth looking at whether the Facebook project is a compute island, or if other data center projects focus on the region, effectively expanding the western boundaries of the Greater Chicago market.

Meta says its data centers contributed $ 18.6 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the U.S. economy from 2017 to 2019, or $ 6.2 billion annually, according to RTI research. International.

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