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Facebook Returns to “Hacker Roots” with Open-Source Data Center Project

In a surprise move Facebook has gone back to their “hacker roots” — their words not mine, by releasing their data center designs to the public. In a project dubbed the Open Compute project, Facebook has busted open the secretive world of data centers by making their designs public and open source.

We decided to honor our hacker roots and challenge convention by custom designing and building our software, servers and data centers from the ground up.

These new data center designs from Facebook cost 24% less to build than traditional data centers and consume 38% less power. Using an evaporative cooling system, versus traditional pushed air, they are able to reduce the carbon footprint of data centers.

Facebook’s OpenCompute project is encouraging others to be more environmentally conscious in their data center designs, and more open. Many companies are now beginning to follow in step, including Rackspace, Zynga and others. Many industry analysts wonder if this will be the push that Google needs to stop being so secretive about their data centers; Google is a critical step to opening the technology as they are the biggest data center users on the planet.

Facebook’s data center designs were modeled for their new 150,000 square foot facility in Prineville, Oregon. Their ductless evaporative cooling systems work by using natural air flow and cooling, as opposed to the traditional energy-hogging air conditioning needed.

OpenCompute’s servers use customized motherboards with AMD or Intel processors, and feature a custom-designed power system that uses 48V DC batteries that power upto 6 servers at once, instead of the traditional one — this move alone saves the data center 2% of their annual energy consumption.

Overall the designs are 93% efficient with energy, a stunning number given that any data center with 90% efficiency currently its considered exceptional.

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