Facebook Shares Designs for First Energy Efficient Data Center

Social networking site Facebook launched an initiative last week to share the custom-engineered, energy efficiency technology deployed in its first dedicated data center in Prineville, Oregon.

The Open Compute Project will share the specifications and best practices that Facebook says deliver a 38% increase in energy efficiency at 24% lower cost.

Inspired by the success of open source software, Facebook is publishing technical specifications and mechanical CAD files for the Prineville data center’s servers, power supplies, server racks, battery backup systems and building design.

This technology enabled the data center to achieve an initial power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio of 1.07, compared with 1.5 for the company’s existing facilities. Established by the Green Grid in 2007, PUE is an indicator of data center energy efficiency, and the lower the number, the better. The ratio falls into the "best practice" category as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In the last year, Facebook has been criticized by Greenpeace and other environmental groups for not doing more to offset the environmental impact of its massive online network.

"Facebook and our development partners have invested tens of millions of dollars over the past two years to build upon industry specifications to create the most efficient computing infrastructure possible," said Jonathan Heiliger, vice president of technical operations at Facebook. "These advancements are good for Facebook, but we think they could benefit all companies. Today we’re launching the Open Compute Project, a user-led forum, to share our designs and collaborate with anyone interested in highly efficient server and data center designs. We think it’s time to demystify the biggest capital expense of an online business–the infrastructure."

Advanced Micro Devices, Dell, HP and Intel are among the companies that co-developed technology with Facebook. In addition, Dell’s Data Center Solutions business will design and build servers based on the Open Compute Project specification. Synnex Corporation will also serve as a vendor for Open Compute Project servers, offering fully integrated and tested solutions based on customers’ specifications.

According to Facebook, If a quarter of the data center capacity in the U.S. were built on Open Compute Project specifications, it would save enough energy to power more than 160,000 homes.

In addition, servers in the new data center use a vanity-free design with no paint, logos, stickers, or front panel–and are free of all non-essential parts. This saves more than 6 pounds of materials per server, Facebook said. In a typical data center, this would save more than 120 tons of material from being manufactured, transported, and, ultimately, discarded.

Facebook is publishing specifications and mechanical designs for Open Compute Project hardware, including motherboards, power supply, server chassis, and server and battery cabinets. In addition, Facebook is making available its data center electrical and mechanical construction specifications.

Website: http://www.opencompute.org     
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