Facebook shows green data center; launches Open Compute Project

Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook.com)
By Richi Jennings. April 8, 2011.

Updated: Facebook has opened its green data center kimono, showing off its high-efficiency servers. It's also open-sourced the designs, creating the Open Compute Project. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers pore over the specs.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention NES in a Cartridge (so you plug your cartridge in a cartridge to play the cartridge)...

Sharon Gaudin has the facts:

The social networking company announced [it] had worked with ... Intel, AMD, Hewlett-Packard and Dell to create their own server and data center designs ... [and] shared the specifications of what they created. ... The initiative ... called the Open Compute Project, reveals the secret sauce ... making them more efficient, cheaper and ... lightweight.


CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the data center will use 38% less energy and cost 24% less to build. ... Said Frank Frankovsky, director of hardware design at Facebook: "The reason we're doing it [is] to drive efficiency for ourselves and then to benefit others." 

Stacey Higginbotham gets to the bottom of it:

It’s like Container Store does cheap servers and someone at Facebook built an entire server in three minutes. ... [It] minimizes power consumption and cost. ... Facebook has added some innovations, such as [larger] fans ... the entire server is 50 percent taller than the traditional 1 u sized box.


It has a reboot on LAN feature, which lets ... administrators instantly reboot a server by sending specific network instructions. ... The power supply ... [can] switch to D/C backup battery power in the event of a power outage. ... The result is a data center with a [PUE] of 1.07. That compares to an EPA-defined industry best practice of 1.5. 

Timothy Prickett-Morgan gazes into his crystal balls:

If open source software is any guide, hardware infrastructure will get better and cheaper at a faster rate. ... And someone is going to try to make money assembling hardware components into "server distros" and "storage distros" ... as Red Hat does for the several thousand programs it puts atop the Linux kernel.


The motherboards have CPU and memory voltage regulators that have ... 93 per cent efficiency, and ... a power supply that runs at 94.5 per cent. ... These servers consume 38 per cent less power. ... It was telling that Dell's Data Center Solutions unit, which ... has been building bespoke machines for Facebook for the past three years, was at the event. 

And here's James Hamilton, with a perspective:

Jonathan Heiliger and the Facebook infrastructure team have hired an excellent group of engineers over the past couple of years and are now bringing these designs to life. ... One of the cleanest mechanical systems I’ve come across, three phase 480VAC directly to the rack,  a low voltage direct current distributed [UPS] ... [and] custom server designs.


I’ve seen some super interesting but top secret facilities and I’ve seen some public but not particularly advanced data centers. ... This is the first time an industry leading design has been documented in detail and released publically

Meanwhile, Sam Dean worries that not all is as it seems:

If Facebook gains buy-in from other large tech companies, the ripple effect ... could be massive. ... Google, of course, has always kept volumes of secrets regarding its data centers. ... Already, though, the term "open source" is being thrown around quite loosely regarding the Open Compute Project.


It remains to be seen how truly open [it] will be when it comes to end-to-end data center architecture. ... It needs everyone from chipmakers to open source players ... to ramp up efforts aimed at massively scalable computing, and share.

And Finally...

NES in a Cartridge (so you plug your cartridge in a cartridge to play the cartridge)

[hat tip (for link and joke): Jason Scott]

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: itbw@richij.com.

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon