Facebook Demystifies Data Center Design and Breakers for Data Centers

Everyone can agree that Facebook has gone from a small dorm room start-up to a force in the computing and internet industries. As a result, the company was having significant issues finding the right equipment for their server rooms, including breakers for data centers. So, they developed the “Open Compute Project.”

The Open Compute Project and Breakers for Data Centers

The Open Compute Project was started about a year ago with the goal of building efficient power and server infrastructures at a low cost. Since many of the original Facebook team members have always considered themselves “hackers,” they wanted to share their information in the likeness of an “open source” project. They ultimately developed their data centers with “vanity free servers,” as they refer to them, which are 38 percent more efficient and 24 percent less expensive to build and run.

The Facebook team understood how critical every part of a data center is to any successful business. From the right servers, to the UPS, to the right breakers for data centers, they decided to “demystify” the build of the data center. As a result, they wanted to share that information with others so they could learn how to build and run efficient data centers for their business.

Since their servers are so much more efficient, the breakers for data centers in use are able to also efficiently manage server and power usage. This important part of the Open compute data center design included a highly efficient electrical system. The first location for this new system was Facebook’s Prineville, Oregon, location. The facility uses an electrical system with a 48 VDC UPS system integrated with a 277VAC server power supply.

For example, Facebook recognized that many data centers sit on what they refer to as “cold storage.” This refers to information that must be saved and kept available, but is rarely access. Even though these servers are not accessed often, their hard drives usually still spin at full speed in the off-chance a data request is made. If those hard drives do not continue to spin at full speed and go to “sleep mode,” wait times to access data could be between 30 seconds and one minute – an eon in “computer user time.”

What Facebook decided to do is reduce how the hard drive spins by half, saving three to five watts per hard drive. Depending on the type of business and how many servers contain cold storage, the power savings could be quite significant.

What is important to note is that because the spin time reduction is controlled, the time to access information barely changes as far as the end user is concerned. This allows for saved power and cost, while avoiding a negative end user experience. A complete win-win.

Facebook has now not only touched off a revolution now known as social media, they have now helped countless small business and IT professionals benefit from their lessons learned throughout their “growing pains” as they developed into one of the most successful internet companies in the world.