SAN JOSE, Calif. – Facebook is making available the designs for its data center and servers in hopes other large data center operators adopt them. The designs include a 277-volt power supply that is 94.5 percent efficient as well as custom Intel and AMD motherboards.
Facebook launched the Open Compute Project with a handful of members who plan to support the specs, including Dell which said it is already shipping compliant servers. If others adopt the specs, it would drive volumes up and costs down for the products, benefiting Facebook.
So far, no other large commercial data center operators have joined the Facebook effort.
Many top data center operators including Google consider their data center and server designs part of their proprietary secret sauce. Microsoft already shares specifications for its data center servers with a handful of existing and potential vendors on a non-disclosure basis.
Dileep Bhandarkar, the executive who manages Microsoft's data centers, attended the Facebook event and praised the effort but stopped short of joining it. "We have been sharing our best practices openly for several years now, talking about rightsizing of servers by removing unnecessary components and increasing efficiencies of power supplies and VRMs," he said.
The big opportunity for the Facebook effort would be to snag a big operator like Microsoft or Amazon to adopt nits spec. Failing that it could get a groundswell of support from second-tier data center operators too small to design their own servers.
"Sharing open-source software has existed for years, but the practice hasn’t taken hold in hardware yet," said Jonathan Heiliger, vice president of technical operations for Facebook. "By creating a community around these problems we will all become better," he said.
Whether it gains road adoption or not, the Facebook approach shows innovations on several fronts. The Facebook design includes a data center that brings 480/277 VAC power direct to the server power supply, eliminating up to four power conversion steps that waste nine to fifteen percent of power.
Facebook co-designed its 277-volt power supply with Power One and Delta. It developed at least one of its motherboards with Taiwan's Quanta and worked with 10-15 suppliers in all.
A team of just three Facebook engineers, lead by Amir Michael, designed the servers, power supply and novel chassis and racks in about 18 months.
Facebook co-designed a 94.5 percent efficient power supply.