This is where all your “likes” are registered and your profile pictures stored. Powered by a field of solar panels, Facebook’s primary data centre is one of the most energy efficient in the world. It has one of the fanciest cooling systems, too, with purified water humidifying air that is then blown lovingly over the 180,000 servers. This prevents them working up too much of a sweat updating the timelines of Facebook’s 900 million users.
The big G has six major data centres across the US, connected by a fibre-optic network that can exchange information up to 200,000 times faster than an average home internet connection. Every Google Search or YouTube upload connects you to this cathedral of information, with each piece of data stored simultaneously on at least two servers, with a third version of the most important copied to digital tape.
Made up of ten server racks, each packed with ten IBM Power 750 servers and two large refrigeration units to keep them cool, Watson is an incredibly advanced form of data-rich artificial intelligence, able to communicate in natural language rather than code. It calls on 16TB of memory to produce evidence-based answers to almost any question. Want to test it? IBM is set to make Watson accessible via the web. What would you ask the Jeopardy-winning superbot?
Guarding top-secret info for private firms, this massive data farm takes security seriously, using biometric readers and “man traps” – doors that operate a nightclub-like one-in, one-out policy – ensuring there’s only ever one person on the server floor at any time. Still don’t feel your data is safe? Private zones are available, where you can employ your own security measures. Sleeping pods in the “breakout areas” mean you can also spend the night with your data, should you see fit…
This sea of blinking green lights is the hive mind behind services such as Windows Azure, Windows Live and Xbox Live throughout Europe and the Middle East. It covers 303,000 square feet of prime Dublin real estate and has the potential to generate up to 22 Megawatts of critical power. Indeed, that processing grunt is also being put to use dealing with the 2.5 billion Bing queries fired at it every month.