Facebook seeks to offer world more than status updates and Sponsored Stories. Under its Open Compute Project, Facebook engineers have spent the last two years redesigning its servers from the ground up to create a data center that's more efficient and economical. By controlling every aspect of the design, engineers were able to create a data center that uses 38% less energy for 24% less cost, and can handle the same workload as Facebook's existing data centers. Considering how explosive data growth has been, keeping a lid on energy requirements has become a key priority for companies with expansive data farms. In the spirit of an open Internet, Facebook will be sharing all that it learns with the open-source community in hopes to drive more progress. As a whole, the industrywide implications are quite promising for companies that utilize a similar cloud-based approach to data.
Built to spec
With the help of Intel's new silicon photonic technology, Facebook was able to deconstruct the server "monolith" by disaggregating key elements of server design. Silicon photonics use light to move data at high speeds with lower power than conventional copper wiring. Intel's silicon photonics enable transfer speeds of 100 gigabits per second and have a low enough latency to allow components that once needed to be adhered to the same mother board to now be spread out within the rack. In practical terms, servers adopting this technology can have more modular designs, which simplifies repair, cheapens upgrades, increases component life, and allows organizations to build the exact server they need without any excess. Intel and Facebook believe this collaboration will define the future of megadata center designs for the next decade.
Contrary to popular belief, Facebook may not be a one-trick pony after all. The Open Compute Project is bound to help Facebook lower its data center costs, which could easily translate into improved operating results over the long term. For Intel, its silicon photonics technology supports both its Xeon and Atom line of processors, and could help drive steadier demand for its chips in the years to come. Support for its Atom line of processors is particularly important, given the rise in popularity of server clusters, which employ thousands of low-power chips for larger computing tasks. Since the Open Compute Project is still in its infancy, Facebook likely has a lot of benefit left to realize.
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