Facebook have announced that the design secrets behind its new energy-efficient data centre will be shared with rival companies, in an effort to cut the amount of electricity the industry consumes. It is believed that the new facility in Princeville, Oregon will use 38% less power than existing centres.
Costing around $188m (£117m), this is Facebook’s first custom-built facility, having previously leased its storage space and servers from other companies. When building from scratch, Facebook have been able to strip out non-essential parts, paint, logos and stickers – saving, it claims, more than 6 pounds of materials per server. This special design maximises the new cooling system, which incorporates extensive use of outside air, as opposed to air conditioning.
As well as saving money on power, the company said that running its own data centre would help it to push through future changes on the site. “We found a lot of stuff mass manufacturers were putting out wasn’t what we needed, so we customised it to better fit social applications,” said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. VP of Technical Operations, Jonathan Heiliger, explained further: “Having this control over our infrastructure gives us a ton of flexibility especially when turning on a new feature.”
Working under the title Open Compute Project, Facebook will release specifications and mechanical drawings of the building and its servers. Dell, HP, AMD and Intel are also partners in the project, and will benefit from the design information of the Princeville facility. Facebook claimed that if one-quarter of US data centres used specifications released by the Open Compute Project, the energy saved could power more than 160,000 homes.