Facebook open up technology behind its servers

A small team of Facebook engineers has designed and built a new model for energy-efficient network data centers, and it's going to make its designs available to anyone. (Photo by ABC7 Moneyscope reporter David Louie)
April 7, 2011 3:37:05 PM PDT
Facebook this morning revealed a new side. Besides being the dominant social network, it can also be a technology innovator. A small team of three engineers has designed and built a new model for energy-efficient network data centers, and it's going to make its designs available to anyone.

Data centers are giant computing centers that route traffic across the internet. A typical data center can consume $10 million a year in electricity. An expert in data centers estimates the Facebook innovation could cut that bill down to $6 million.

In typical Facebook style, CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage at the company's Palo Alto headquarters. Then he turned it over to the key engineers to explain what they did. The work started about two years ago. The engineering team was small -- only three people. But they threw a pizza and wings party to get input from other Facebook engineers. Their new vision has been installed at a data center Facebook operates in Prineville, Oregon.

A substantial portion of the cost of running a data center is cooling them. Heat is a byproduct of processors running 24 hours a day. Facebook's design eliminates the need for air conditioning. Instead, cool air is drawn into the center and further cooled, as needed, by using misters, which create water droplets. The servers themselves, which are housed in large racks, sometimes 90 of them in a single unit, have been redesigned as well to be more energy efficient.


Load Comments