10 things to learn from Facebook's approach to data centers

10 things to learn from Facebook's approach to data centers

Summary: Facebook's sprawling Forest City, North Carolina data center is designed to be a beacon of energy friendliness in the watt-sucking world of server farms. On a recent media tour of the facility, officials showed off green-computing practices that they say have saved the company more than $1 billion.


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  • Air recycling is an exhaustive priority

    Keven McCammon, the data center's site manager, discussed at length the bevy of air-recycling mechanisms at work in the facility, where 100 percent of the air used for heating and cooling is sourced from the outdoor supply. The white tank next to him and the louvered window just beyond that are the starting point for corridor after corridor of air filtration, cooling and cleansing technology. Even the innocuous ground below him contains a plenum which holds hot air that's later recycled — a key component to how the facility combats the super-humid North Carolina summers. In the winter, hot air caught in the plenum is used for heating the admin area, but in summer it's used to remove humidity and dry the air for use in the server area.

  • There is immense power in air pressurization

    Air is moved throughout the data center entirely by pressurization. Although the photo doesn't show it, heavy suction is wafting air from one side to the next. The area is so pressurized that each corridor entrance has a double-door vestibule to stabilize the pressure. That air is eventually pushed down a shaft into the server hall where it's pulled across the electronics to cool them off. Then that air is sent to the hot aisle and eventually pushed into the plenum, where it's either recycled or sent out the back.

  • A little water goes a long way

    Nothing inside the data center's cooling mechanism is custom made, including this Munters mesh that uses water to regulate the temperature and refresh the air. The system creates a climate with an optimized combination of temperature and humidity — while also using 80 percent less energy than traditional cooling methods. McCammon said the system has also allowed them to eliminate the need for reverse osmosis and cut down on water usage, as water collected from the system is continually reused.

Topics: Data Centers, Data Management, Social Enterprise

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  • The sport isn't called "frisbee golf"

    FYI - "Frisbee" is a trademark of Wham-o. The "disc catcher" depicted in the final photo is for *disc golf*. Frisbees are much different and are inferior to "regulation" disc golf discs. Laypersons are "allowed" to call the sport by the wrong name, but members of the Professional Disc Golf Association almost always offense.
    • fun-facts

      1. very few people care about the opinions of PDGA members much less whether or not they are offended by terminology.

      2. you'll actually find that most of them don't really care what you call it 90% of the time anyway. as a disc golfer myself, I've heard many of them even refer to it as frolfing as well as many other names that elude me at the moment.

      and finally:

      3. Wham-o also manufactures disc golf discs. they only come in one grade of plastic though, they do hold up nicely for the most part. the local course is heavily wooded with semi-narrow paths in places.
  • Here's what I learned about Joke Book

    Their Android and iPhone Apps stink so bad
    I've deleted them.

    I'm thinking of ditching FB altogether. It's just a stupid website for posting things no one cares about or reads anyway.
    • Luke-IT

      Maybe you're just not interesting or have nothing interesting to say :(
      I communicate with people around the world... of course there are those who just go there to play game which I find a waste of my time. I have found friends I had lost contact with going back over 40 years.

      Go ahead and ditch FB; you probably won't be missed.
    • What's new?

      FB users come and go, just like people do in any social community, so what's new?
    • When leaving a site ...

      don't announce your departure, just leave. Announcing departure is pathetic.

      I'm not a FaceBook fan, I go to the site less than rarely and feel that it's on toxic land quite appropriate.

      OTOH my wife's family moved to the U.S. from Italy in '72 and Wife has reconnected with her large family back in the homeland via FaceBook. Wife derives happiness from FaceBook.

      So there you go, everyones mileage varies.

      Rob Berman
  • Image 3 - nice bracing!

    Couldn't block that walkway better if you tried - oh wait let's put something to trip over and stop anyone wheeling anything along there.
  • Facebook Data Center

    "Fun fact: The data center site was formerly home to a toxic textile plant and later a boat manufacturer."

    Killer cotton?
  • A lot...

    A lot of tech to store a lot of tat...
    dumb blonde