LIVE At Facebook's Open Compute Project Announcement!

We are seated in Facebook’s cafeteria as Mark Zuckerberg is discussing how Facebook’s servers and data center facilities are working more efficiently and reducing the use of coal-based power. The content of this announcement jibes with what we’d predicted in our previous post about the event. Be sure to hit the hard refresh keys on your machine to keep up with our live updates of this post.

The event includes representatives from 10 to 15 technology companies working with Facebook, all of them together revealing full specifications and designs in open source fashion.Zuckerberg calls this architecture the open compute project, noting that it has been in development for a year-and-a-half.

Facebook has posted a synopsis of this project on its official page on the site, and at the bottom of the post you can watch the same video that the company played on screens during the press conference. And all of the partner companies’ design specifications related to this project appear on a website aptly named called OpenCompute.org.

One of the vendors involved in the partnership is Power One, whose director of business development, Kevin Gero, told me while we were waiting in line to enter the building that his company’s hardware helps the data center servers use less energy.

Facebook had started out leasing data centers and has over the past year moved toward creating its own, wholly owned data centers, and as part of that process the company has engineered more efficient servers that use energy in moderation. One wholly-owned data center is already running in Prineville, Oregon, while another one is under construction in North Carolina.

“We’re actually sharing the specifications and design documents that went into designing this technology. We’re sharing data center and server designs and schematics. These servers we are running are 38 percent more efficient and reduce the costs,” said Facebook’s Vice President of Technical Operations John Heiliger.

The architecture in the Prineville, Oregon data center includes increased backup and cooling of the hardware, using fans instead of conventional air conditioning and ducts, said Amir Michael, a server and data center engineer at Facebook.

Michael said the servers include Intel and AMD motherboards, and the voltage regulators on the motherboards exceed 94.5 percent efficiency on the power supply.

A press release about today’s announcement went out via PR Newswire, and the text appears below.

PALO ALTO, Calif., April 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Seeking to transform the energy efficiency of global data centers, Facebook today launched the Open Compute Project, an initiative to share the custom-engineered technology in its first dedicated data center in Prineville, Oregon. This advanced technology delivered a 38 percent increase in energy efficiency at 24 percent lower cost for Facebook, and the specifications and best practices behind those gains will now be available to companies across the industry.
“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.”
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 our existing facilities, which fall into the “best practice” category as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency*. Established by the Green Grid in 2007, PUE is an indicator of data center energy efficiency, and the lower the number, the better.
Facebook is releasing these designs as open hardware, aiming to encourage industry-wide collaboration around best practices for data center and server technology.
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.
For Facebook’s data center in Prineville, Open Compute Project hardware delivered:
Energy savings – The data center uses 38 percent less energy to do the same work as Facebook’s exiting facilities. 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.
Cost savings – In addition to the energy savings, Open Compute Project hardware means data center infrastructure costs 24 percent less to build out than Facebook’s existing data centers.
Materials savings – Servers 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. 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.
Additional materials:
More information about the project, specifications and CAD files are available at http://opencompute.org/
Facebook Engineering page at http://www.facebook.com/Engineering
Industry Support:
“Our long-standing, productive relationship with Facebook is a point of pride for AMD, and we are equally proud to participate in the Open Compute Project. We applaud Facebook for bringing all of these companies together towards further collaboration and development of the future of computing.”
Patrick Patla, General Manager and Corporate Vice President of server and embedded solutions, AMD
“Facebook has been a great customer of Dell and one of our closest collaborators in pushing the limits of server design and architecture, while pushing the envelope for data center management and energy efficiency. Dell’s Data Center Solutions (DCS)business has designed and built servers based on Facebook’s Open Compute specification.”
Forrest Norrod, Vice President and General Manager for Worldwide Server Platforms, Dell
“Data centers provide the foundation for the efficient, high quality services our customers have come to expect. Facebook has contributed advanced reference designs for ongoing data center and hardware innovation. We look forward to collaborating with like-minded technology providers and partners as we seek ways to learn from and further advance these designs.”
George Brady, Executive Vice President, Technology Infrastructure, Fidelity Investments
“Goldman Sachs is pleased to be working with Facebook on the Open Compute Project,” said Don Duet. “Our team has already visited Facebook’s hardware design lab in Palo Alto and we look forward to working together to significantly increase the efficiency of servers and hardware in data centers.”
Don Duet, Global Head of Technology Infrastructure, Compliance, and Market Risk Technology, Goldman Sachs
“Companies with extreme computing needs continue to seek innovative technology that extends the boundaries of what is possible today while challenging their partners to reach new lows in energy usage. HP is looking forward to working with Facebook on the Open Compute Project to increase power efficiency in the most intense computing environments where performance is critical.”
Greg Huff, Chief Technology Officer, Industry Standard Servers and Software, HP
“Intel is a proud supporter and technology enabler of Facebook’s mission to connect the world. We’ve worked with Facebook for the past 18 months to optimize performance per watt and develop a highly efficient board design. The combination of performance gains through Intel Xeon processors combined with Facebook’s aggressive power optimization has resulted in a 60 percent reduction in power consumption per user. The collaborative effort pushed Intel to deliver technology for greater efficiency, which will ultimately benefit a broad base of data centers across the globe.”
Jason Waxman, General Manager, High Density Computing, Data Center Group, Intel
“Open technology standards and industry collaboration accelerate innovation and better serve our customers. We enthusiastically support the Open Compute Project, for the same reasons that we launched OpenStack, the industry’s fastest-growing open source cloud project. The Rackspace team has visited and studied Facebook’s next-generation data center, our engineers continue to collaborate, and we look forward to optimizing OpenStack for Open Compute.”
Lanham Napier, Chief Executive Officer, Rackspace Hosting
“We at Synnex Corporation are very excited to be a part of Facebook’s ground breaking effort to improve data center efficiency. We will use our design and integration services and logistics infrastructure to make this technology advancement available to a wide user base.”
Steve Ichinaga, Senior Vice President and General Manager of System Integration, Synnex Corporation
“We are focused on building a flexible, scalable and efficient infrastructure which enables us to deliver the best experience to over 250 million people who play Zynga games. We look forward to working with the Open Compute Project to exchange best practices and help the entire industry advance in the areas of power efficiency, design and manageability.”
Cadir Lee, Chief Technology Officer, Zynga
Environmental support:
“We at the Alliance to Save Energy are honored to partner with Facebook to increase awareness and the adoption of technologies and practices to encourage millions of people to become more energy efficient. We applaud Facebook and their industry partners for this terrific effort to transform the energy efficiency of global data centers through their Open Compute Project. This initiative is critically important because it will dramatically increase energy efficiency, lower costs and — best of all – offers the design of this technology for free via the web to anyone who wants it.”
Kateri Callahan, President, Alliance to Save Energy
“Computer systems today are about 3,000,000 percent more energy efficient than they were 30 years ago. Facebook and other DESC members are bringing this same innovation capability now to data center resource efficiency. We applaud them for this important work to make our data centers more efficient, which delivers environmental benefits and cost savings for everyone.”
Chris Hankin, Executive Director, Digital Energy Solutions Campaign
“The Green Grid has championed PUE as a consistent data center energy efficiency metric, and we applaud Facebook’s efforts to drive data centers globally towards a marked increase in resource efficiency. The entire industry benefits from The Green Grid’s tools, training, and global collaboration, as organizations such as Facebook apply these methods to transform data centers from an operational burden to a source of economic prosperity and ecologic sustainability.”
Mukesh Khattar, Oracle representative and Board member of The Green Grid
* Source: Report to Congress on Server and Data Center Energy Efficiency Public Law 109-431, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ENERGY STAR Program http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/prod_development/downloads/EPA_Datacenter_Report_Congress_Final1.pdf
** Assuming a data center size of 40,000 servers
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