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Facebook Opens Up Its Hardware Secrets

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Facebook data center

Facebook's new data center, in Prineville, OR, covers 147,000 square feet and is one of the most energy-efficient computing warehouses ever built.

Credit: Jason Madera / Technology Review

Prior to launching its new super-efficient data center, Facebook plans to make the designs and specifications open to the public. The company wants to encourage software-style openness for hardware, and release enough information about the data center and servers that others could build them, says Facebook's David Recordon.

The new data center will increase Facebook's total computing capacity by about 50 percent. The open hardware includes information about the building's electrical and cooling systems as well as the servers. The electrical design reduces the number of times that the electricity from the grid is run through a transformer to reduce its voltage on its way to the servers.

A team led by Facebook's Jay Park also devised a new design for backup batteries that keeps servers running even during the brief power outage before the backup generators turn on. Instead of building one large battery store in a single room, the team used several cabinet-sized battery packs spread out among the servers. Park says a perfect data center would have a power usage efficiency (PUE) score of 1, and Facebook's new data center has a PUE of 1.07.

"Facebook is successful because of the great social product, not [because] we can build low-cost infrastructure," says Facebook's Frank Frankovsky. "There's no reason we shouldn't help others out with this."

From Technology Review
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Abstracts Copyright © 2011 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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