Want to be as energy-efficient as Facebook? There's a spec for that

Want to be as energy-efficient as Facebook? There's a spec for that

Summary: It's no secret that Greenpeace has been kinda upset with Facebook ever since the giant Web application company announced its plans to build two massive new data centers, with what the non-profit organization viewed as little regard for the power-generation methods behind the massive amount of electricity needed to power the social network's server farms.

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It's no secret that Greenpeace has been kinda upset with Facebook ever since the giant Web application company announced its plans to build two massive new data centers, with what the non-profit organization viewed as little regard for the power-generation methods behind the massive amount of electricity needed to power the social network's server farms.

While Facebook still hasn't said much about who or what is behind its data center power plugs, the company moved very publicly today to address the energy efficiency of its data centers.

Through its relationships with company including Advanced Micro Devices, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Intel, Facebook has created something called the Open Compute Project. The intention of this initiative is to share energy-efficiency best practices and design techniques. The project's philosophy is being applied first at Facebook's new data center in Prineville, Ore., which the company says will use 38 percent less energy than existing facilities. The data center will operate with a power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio of 1.07, compared with the 1.5 for other Facebook data centers. The video explains the project in more detail:

Facebook is publishing all the technical specifications for the new data center -- including the power distribution system, servers, rack design, building design and uninterruptible power supplies -- so that others can use them for their own online business operations.

What's more, two companies -- Dell Data Center Solutions and technology distributor Synnex -- will be happy to build servers to those specifications for other online businesses. Just think, you too can have a data center just like Facebook's!

Seriously, despite all the flap it has taken -- and continues to take -- from Greenpeace, Facebook figures that other cloud service providers could benefit from its best practices.

Said Jonathan Heiliger, vice president of Facebook's technical operations:

"Facebook and our development partners have invested tens of millions of dollars over the past two years to build upon industry specifications to create the most efficient computing infrastructure possible. These advancements are good for Facebook, but we think they could benefit all companies. .... We think it's time to demystify the biggest capital expense of an online business -- the infrastructure."

So, is Greenpeace any happier with Facebook after today's proclamation. Eh, not really.

Here's the statement it just issued, while calling for Facebook to announce plans to phase out its use of coal-generated power by Earth Day on April 22. The statement is attributed to Greenpeace's climate campaigner, Casey Harrell:

"It's commendable that Facebook is working to increase the energy efficiency of its business, and specifically its data centers -- an area of neglect for many years. But as the global warming footprint of the IT industry and Facebook specifically, continues to grow significantly, a focus on energy efficiency alone will only slow the speeding train of unsustainable emissions growth. Efficiency is not enough."

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Topics: Storage, Data Centers, Hardware, Social Enterprise

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12 comments
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  • Probably 100x more energy efficient than the average greenpeace worker home

    There isn't enough green energy to power everything yet. Until there is steps like these will have to do. Meanwhile nice way to go about showing how irrational you are greenpeace. Were you trying to marginalize yourself even further? Okay go back to driving your coal powered hybrids now...
    Johnny Vegas
    • There does not have to enough for all

      @Johnny Vegas
      If Facebook buys renewable power, demand will increase and production will increase. There does not have be enough renewable energy for all for Facebook to buy it.

      Using less power will increase profits for Facebook and reduced demand for electricity (and lower prices) for us.
      If Facebook uses renewable electricity then there will be the further benefit of less pollution and more fossil fuels left in the ground for another day.
      abloss@...
    • RE: Want to be as energy-efficient as Facebook? There's a spec for that

      @Johnny Vegas
      Todays hybrids are not coal powered hybrid, they just do 40+ mpg.
      abloss@...
  • Quo vadis?

    What's a good site for discussion of tech industry issues? I ask because this place is starting to remind me of <I>Science News</I>, which was a great little magazine until it got taken over by left-wing wackjobs who proceeded to shove their agenda in our faces instead of reporting on science.

    I'm not sure what changed, but this place will soon be uninhabitable except by the faith-based Climate community.
    Robert Hahn
    • RE: Want to be as energy-efficient as Facebook? There's a spec for that

      @Robert Hahn
      The tech industry is very interested in reducing costs and staying in business. This is a huge area of interest for the big companies. Zdnet is right to report on it.
      abloss@...
      • RE: Want to be as energy-efficient as Facebook? There's a spec for that

        @abloss@...

        "Going green" is NOT going to reduce costs! It costs more to "go green". The irony is that "global warming" is a hoax. There also is no problem with "carbon emissions".

        Go google "climate data fraud East Anglia".
        Techboy_z
    • RE: Want to be as energy-efficient as Facebook? There's a spec for that

      @Robert Hahn
      The tech industry is very interested in reducing costs and staying in business. This is a huge area of interest for the big companies. Zdnet is right to report on it.
      abloss@...
      • Who let the nuts in?

        @abloss@... No one is opposed to efficiency, or to cutting costs. The question is whether a band of known violent eco-terrorists should be brought up in an alleged "tech" article as if they were some credible source that we should all care about and hold in esteem. I'd suggest that doing so adds an element of wackjob politics that is unwelcome and unnecessary.
        Robert Hahn
  • There is no global warming...

    The fraud has been debunked already. It was/is just another attempt to control the masses and make money off of "going green" while doing so.

    Doubts? Google "East Anglia climate data fraud".

    Greenpeace are thugs, just like ELF.
    Techboy_z
  • RE: Want to be as energy-efficient as Facebook? There's a spec for that

    Like some humor on the subject of a global conspiracy amongst the physicists of the world?
    http://www.monbiot.com/2009/11/23/the-knights-carbonic/

    and more seriously,
    http://www.monbiot.com/2009/12/07/the-real-climate-scandal/.

    Or, from our tax dollars at work, the National Academy of Sciences, set up by Lincoln to advise the federal government on scientific matters:

    http://dels-old.nas.edu/climatechange/
    abloss@...
  • RE: Want to be as energy-efficient as Facebook? There's a spec for that

    Fossil fuels are finite, there price will rise as demand increase and supply decreases. If we wait we will be spending all of our money buying fuels to maintain the status quo and have no fuel left over to power the move to a sustainable future. If we wait we will be caught in a world of scarcity without the resources to make a new, renewable economy.

    Here's Thomas Edison, 1931:

    "I'd put my money on the sun & solar energy.
    What a source of power!
    I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal
    run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more
    years left."
    abloss@...
  • RE: Want to be as energy-efficient as Facebook? There's a spec for that

    FacePlant? Only for ugly losers.
    james347