Facebook open sources green datacenter specs

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Facebook's finished building its new datacenter at Prineville, Oregon, and is inviting all the neighbors in for a peek. In what it's calling the Open Compute Project, it's opened up the designs and specs for all to see.

Dell is one of the first takers, saying it's already designed and build a datacenter solution using elements of Open Compute, and HP has also announced its support.

Facebook's hoping that it can create an ecosystem of suppliers working to common open source standards to supply both itself and other companies.

Facebook's long been in trouble with environmental group Greenpeace over its power-hungry datacenters, and it's keen to stress that its new servers are 38 percent more power efficient than before, as well as costing 24 percent less to manufacture.

There's no air conditioning used at the plant, with the servers cooled via a ductless evaporative system. The servers themselves are half as high again as is usial, allowing more room for cooling.

And the company claims its power supplies are more thaN 93 percent efficient - way above normal.

Like Google before it, it's eliminate the UPS and PDUs, running power directly from the input 480V supply to the servers through a custom power supply. For backup power, Facebook's using a modular 48V DC battery backup unit that supplies up to six through a DC-DC converter in each server.

"While this design is certainly not transportable in its entirety to a commercial data center, lessons learned from its power engineering, modularity, and draconian standardization of servers, racks, and switches are valuable. Even more valuable is Facebook’s decision to publish its server, rack, and power specifications as part of the “Open Compute Project," says Forrester analyst Richard Fichera.

"Facebook claims it is to encourage the development of new web companies by making it easier for them to build world-class infrastructure. Even if their true motivations are also weighted by a less altruistic goal of further lowering their costs by creating a community of multiple competing suppliers, Facebook deserves credit for sharing their IP with a wider and in some cases potentially competitive world."