Citing open source software as its inspiration, Facebook today launched the Open Compute Project, an initiative to share the technology in its new data center in Prineville, Oregon, a data center that Facebook says uses 38 percent less energy, while costing 24 percent less to build out than its other data centers. If a quarter of the data center capacity in the U.S. were built on Open Compute Project specs, Facebook says it would save enough energy to power more than 160,000 homes.
"These advancements are good for Facebook, but we think they could benefit all companies," said Jonathan Heiliger, vice president of technical operations at Facebook, the Palo Alto, California-based social networking giant.
Facebook will be publishing specifications and mechanical designs for hardware components like motherboards, power supply, server chassis and cabinets, as well as the mechanical and construction designs for the data center including battery back-up systems and passive cooling designs.
The slimmed-down server design 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 or recycled.
The lighter servers also have "vanity-free design with no paint, logos, stickers." What exactly does a "vanity-free" server mean? According to Facebook's Heileger, "It's not beautiful but it gets the job done." (Photos: Alan Brandt)
In early 2010, when Facebook announced their intentions to build the Prineville data center, the company faced pushback because the location necessitated they purchase electricity from a utility that uses more coal-fired power than any other source.
Greenpeace singled out Facebook in a campaign encouraging them "Unfriend Coal," arguing that they should put more emphasis on renewable energy. Specifically, Greenpeace says it wants Facebook to develop a plan to be coal free by 2021, educate users about how Facebook powers its services and its carbon footprint, and advocate for clean energy at a local, national and international level. Faceboook answered with a campaign of their own, of sorts, by launching Green on Facebook, a green portal share sustainability developments at the company and participate in the green social media community.
Greenpeace says it is giving Facebook until Earth Day (April 22) to unfriend coal, but has not specified what happens if the $50 billion company fails to comply.