Facebook wants to help you reduce your datacenter costs and energy consumption.
Under the Open Compute Project, Facebook -- a social network that I believe employs Justin Timberlake -- has designed a server that consumes 38 percent less power than the off-the-shelf models the company previously used, thanks to components like the customized power supply and novel internal fans.
The servers are then housed in datacenters that rely heavily on DC power to cut down on the number of conversions and transformations as a means of saving power. DC power, once obscure, is gaining more adherents, particularly in the realm of using it to run datacenters, because it can cut power consumption, equipment costs and real estate.
A Facebook datacenter in Oregon based around these technologies also exploits ambient cooling instead of air conditioning.
In the end, the combination of the servers and the datacenter design lead to a datacenter with a PUE (power usage effectiveness) of 1.07. Put another way, only seven percent of the power going to the datacenter is used for non-computing operations like air conditioning. On average, datacenters have PUEs of 1.5. A datacenter can consume around $1 million per year per megawatt, according to Rackspace chairman Graham Weston. The Facebook technologies can cut that down to $600,000. Weston said his company will adopt technologies form the Open Compute Project.
As an added bonus, Facebook is not keeping this information to itself. Instead, it is opening the technology up for public use.
"We're not the only ones that need the hardware we're building out," said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder.
"We are sharing the server designs and schematics, as well as the datacenter designs and schematics," added Jonathan Heiliger, vice president of technical operations for the company. "It is time to demystify" datacenters, he added.
Heiliger noted that the server is also somewhat cheap. Facebook worked with Quanta on manufacturing. The server is slightly taller than ordinary servers in its class to allow for better air cooling. It also weighs six pounds less than most comparable models.
The one vanity comes in the LEDs used for indication/operation lights. The company could have saved money by using cheaper LEDs (which cost two cents each), but it opted for blue ones that cost seven cents each instead.
The event is going on now. Greenpeace has already issued its predictable response: We salute the effort but it's not good enough for us.
Still, it's a pretty interesting development from my vantage point. Google designs its own servers too, but good luck getting one on your own.The "information is free" guys at Google keep a Politboro grip on their IP. More power savings are possible, as well. The servers rely on AMD Operon or Intel Xeon processors and not more efficient ARM-based chips or Atom processors like those that startups like Calxeda and SeaMicro are touting.
Datacenters consume over 2 percent of the power in the U.S. and the figure is growing.