Take a tour of Facebook’s Area 404 laboratory (photos)

5 Aug 2016

Facebook has opened the doors of its Area 404 hardware labs, with the entire facility photographed for our pleasure.

At 22,000sq ft, the newly-constructed Area 404 allows Facebook to model, prototype and analyse the vast majority of its products in one location for the first time ever.

Bringing together its Connectivity Lab, Oculus and Building 8 teams (among others), the company’s Menlo site is kitted out with state-of-the-art machinery, tools and test equipment.

Future Human

It’s called Area 404 in tribute to employees looking for a facility like this for years, but not finding one suitable.

“Now it’s found, and we lovingly refer to the space as Area 404,” said the company.


The site consists of two main areas: the electrical engineering labs and the prototyping workshops.

According to Facebook, the electrical engineering labs provide space and equipment for the various teams to test and debug their designs. “Much of the work in these labs is very specialised, with equipment setups that are custom to the products being developed.”

The prototyping workshops, meanwhile, are stocked with a variety of machine tools. These include multi-axis computer numerically-controlled machines that enable teams to quickly iterate on complex problems.

Below is a selection of images giving an inside look at the new facility (all images via Facebook):


The manual workshop

2 Facebook

5-axis vertical milling machine

3 Facebook

9-axis mill-turn lathe

4 Facebook

5-axis water jet

5 Facebook

Electron microscope

6 Facebook

50 workbenches, where teams across the company work collaboratively

The facility will enable the Facebook team to develop hardware far faster, with some of the group’s broader projects, such as ARIES, Aquila and virtual reality tools, soon to benefit.

Facebook can prototype items like its open rack, top-of-rack switch Wedge, or mounting solutions for Open Cellular. Some areas in line for help include:

7 Facebook

Open Cellular

8 Facebook

A luminescent optical detector for free-space laser communications

9 Facebook

The mobile device lab at Prineville data centre

12 Facebook

Project ARIES

14 Facebook

Wedge and Wedge 100

Aquila project

Project Aquila

Main Facebook image via GongTo/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic