Facebook makes data centre and server designs open source

According to Gigaom, the worlds most popular social networking site -- Facebook -- has opened up its data centres and servers by releasing a tonne of previously unknown information. During a news event earlier on today the company talked about a "server design that minimizes power consumption and cost while delivering the right computer workload for a variety of tasks."

Unlike other companies, such as Google, which use custom built hardware and keep the details close to their chests, Facebook has started a trend for transparency which is likely to open up the market for web scale computing and make it more accessible to the common people. Some of the key server details, according to Facebook are:

  • The outside is 1.2mm zinc pre-plated, corrosion-resistant steel with no front panel and no ads.
  • The parts snap together: the motherboard snaps into place using a series of mounting holes on the chassis, and the hard drive uses snap-in rails and slides into the drive bay. The unit only has one screw for grounding. It’s like Container Store does cheap servers and someone at Facebook built an entire server in three minutes.
  • Hold onto your chassis because the server is 1.5u tall about 50 percent taller than other servers to make room for larger and more efficient heat sinks.
  • Check out how this scales. It has a reboot on LAN feature, which lets a systems administrator instantly reboot a server by sending specific network instructions.
  • The motherboard speaker is replaced with LED indicators to save power and provide visual indicators of server health.
  • The power supply accepts both A/C and D/C power, allowing the server to switch to D/C backup battery power in the event of a power outage.
  • There are two flavors of processor with the Intel motherboard offering two Xeon 5500 series or 5600 series processors, up to 144GB memory and an Intel 5500 I/O Hub chip.
  • AMD fans can choose two AMD Magny-Cours 12 and 8 core CPUs, the AMD SR5650 chipset for I/O, and up to a maximum 192GB of memory.

The social giant also released information about its data centre designs in order to help startup companies create a reliable infrastructure that uses as little power as possible. Similar to Microsoft and Yahoo data centres, Facebook relies on everything being self designed, including motion sensitive LED lights, custom racks and even battery cabinets, all of which results in a data centre with an effectiveness ratio of 1.07, under the EPA's recommended figure of 1.5.

Other improvements over traditional design include features such as allowing the "equipment to run in steamier environments, which in turns lets Facebook rely on evaporative cooling instead of air conditioning" and "using the warm air from the servers to heat the outside air when it’s too cold as well as the offices."

The company intend to share the designs for their power supply, server chassis, motherboard and cabinet designs in a CAD.

Image Credit: Gigaom

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36 Comments

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So I'm the only one who read the title and thought: "Looks like they open sourced the server blueprints."?

Other improvements over traditional design include features such as allowing the "equipment to run in steamier environments, which in turns lets Facebook rely on evaporative cooling instead of air conditioning" and "using the warm air from the servers to heat the outside air when it's too cold as well as the offices."

Sounds goods, but I wonder how they actually achieve this in practice without suffering from corrosion on the motherboards and other components

Yea I know what you mean; I stopped reading the article when I noticed spelling "Tonne and Centre" was a challenge for the Author.

And Don't get me started on the Mere fact that the title of this article was purposely misleading to draw traffic.

slip400 said,
Yea I know what you mean; I stopped reading the article when I noticed spelling "Tonne and Centre" was a challenge for the Author.

And Don't get me started on the Mere fact that the title of this article was purposely misleading to draw traffic.

What? Have you heard of British English? We are not all American you know.

slip400 said,
Yea I know what you mean; I stopped reading the article when I noticed spelling "Tonne and Centre" was a challenge for the Author.

And Don't get me started on the Mere fact that the title of this article was purposely misleading to draw traffic.

I wasn't trying to be an ass by pointing this out, I'd just seriously never seen it spelled that way. I ended it up Googling it and its how its spelled in British English.

Doesn't sound right to me (makes me want to say "tonnay") but it's not incorrect, there's no need to be such a douche about it.

Yea I know what you mean; I stopped reading the article when I noticed spelling "Tonne and Centre" was a challenge for the Author.

And don't get me started on the mere fact that the title was purposely misleading.

bankajac said,
Title still makes me think it is about the software running on the servers.

ZDNet has this as the title - "Facebook open sources its server, data center designs"

bankajac said,

ZDNet has this as the title - "Facebook open sources its server, data center designs"

Now thats a good one. This title is still very misleading.

Samson291 said,
Really getting sick of Neowin's writing theses days =\

I'm really getting sick of people bitching about Neowin's writing these days

Nistic said,

I agree. I thought the article was about something totally different...

Yeah, wow. Completely different.

Lazlo said,
Misleading title...

haven't you noticed that neowin likes misleading titles? There were tons in the past and will be tons in the future.

Tony. said,
Interesting stuff, I want a server rack like that.

Yeah!
Operating OS X is crucial for me though, so I'll pass on this one..,
Wish used Intel XServes were less expensive... the gap between g4/g5 and intel is rather immense!

GS:mac