Summary:

Facebook users love sharing photos, and the demands of that appetite are gargantuan. Infrastructure engineering VP Jay Parikh lifted the lid on Facebook’s seven-petabytes-per-month photo upload task, during GigaOM’s Structure:Europe conference.

How many photos of your drunken nights out does one social network really need? Facebook currently stores 220 billion, its infrastructure engineering VP Jay Parikh said during GigaOM’s Structure:Europe conference.

“We are getting about seven petabytes of new photo content every month and that’s growing,” Parikh told GigaOM senior writer Stacey Higginbotham during a Q&A on day two of the conference.

“We get 300 million photos up every day from our users. All of these trends are just getting bigger every day and every week.”

The figures show how Facebook now dwarves dedicated photo services like Flickr, which last year said it stored a total six billion images, and its own Instagram, which has four billion.

Parikh lifted the lid on how the demands are about to get seasonal: “Halloween is one of our biggest photo upload days of the year – we’ll probably get between one or two billion photos uploaded in a single day.” Consider how Facebook doesn’t immediate trash even deleted images and you’ll get a sense of the social network’s storage challenge.

So, early next year, Facebook will open its third data center, in Luleå, northern Sweden. Not only will the facility benefit from coastal access, there’s also an energy-saving quirk from the near-Arctic location…

“Ten months of the year is so cold, we don’t have to run any chillers,” Parikh said. “It’s’ going to be free air cooling – we open up the windows and cool all the equipment.”

Facebook is aiming to take 25 percent of its energy from clean, renewable sources by 2015. The Luleå data center will be its first that won’t use server hardware from OEMs. Which is bad news for big server vendors like Dell or HP.

The Scandinavian location is also designed to serve a Facebook audience that is 80 percent outside of the U.S. and growing. “One of the hopes is, we want to improve performance for all users in Europe and surrounding areas,” Parikh said.

But the project involve Facebook partnering with local carrier TeliaSonera on an 8,000km fiber ring: “We want to make sure the network connectivity is not going to be a bottleneck.” After coming all that way to the cold, it would be a shame to slip up on the ice.

Check out the rest of our Structure Europe 2012 live coverage here, and a video recording of the session follows below.

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