Facebook ekes IT efficiency from sleek data centre design

 

The Data Centre Strategy Summit keynote in full.

Facebook data centre designer Marco Magarelli has given the Australian industry a detailed insight into how careful site selection, new construction methodologies, free air cooling and custom servers have enabled the social network to deliver industry-leading power efficiency at its three main data centres.

Magarelli deconstructed the master plans for Facebook's three campuses — Prineville, Forest City and the first stage of Luleå in Sweden — for attendees of the Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit.

Facebook has taken a greenfields view of every aspect of the data centre build.

Running a single application at huge scale allowed its engineers to design their own server and rack configuration to minimise the need for mechanical cooling.

Its servers are fitted with a custom power unit that can handle 480/277VAC, skipping the need for power conversion and UPS systems and thus reducing power losses to the server by 13 percent.

The Prineville data centre has achieved a PUE (power usage effectiveness) of a staggering 1.08.

At its new Luleå site, close to the Arctic Circle, the team has also engineered out the need for as many emergency generators and is holding 70 percent less fuel on site as a result.

Magarelli said the company took an iterative approach to site and facility design, taking key learnings gathered from its own work and from industry via the Open Compute Project, and applying them to newer works.

Facebook makes many of the data centre design specifications it has come up with publicly available via the project.

"Growth is all about iteration," he said. "We're constantly evolving, exploring new ideas."

Site selection

Magarelli said Facebook has a team that is responsible for sourcing potential locations for data centre infrastructure, which are qualified against certain criteria, such as availability of utilities and fibre with protected routes.

"We looked at finding the most regular shaped parcel of land possible, with the idea here that we would be deploying not just one building but potentially a campus environment," Magarelli said.

"We want a site that's large enough that we can locate not just our current needs but make sure we also have some availability for buildings ... or services that we might not yet know [are] on our horizon."

Part of selecting a large site is also maximisation of capital investment.

"When we spend money bringing [utility and fibre] services to the site, we want to be able to leverage all that capital investment that we've put into the location," he said.

The ability to use outside air to cool proposed facilities is also a key site selection consideration.

"What was important to us was to know the prevailing wind direction, because we wanted to be able to capture the wind - like you would in a boat sail," Magarelli said.

"We would [also] construct our projects from upwind down so that  during construction we're not throwing dust into the [air] intakes of our operating data centres.

"The other reason why [prevailing wind direction is] important is that when we do test the generators, or we need to go on generators due to a utility interruption, we minimise the chances of recirculating any of that exhaust heat and exhaust flue into the data centres themselves."

Magarelli said the initial Prineville campus design focused on minimising the impact of putting a data centre on the site.

"The footprint of the building was [as it is] to minimise the amount of disruption to the soil, to the siting area," he said, noting Facebook sought to replant displaced vegetation and reuse excavation rock for the site landscaping.

Materials for the actual buildings that house the data halls had to be "rugged, durable, [and] have a certain harmony with the surroundings of the site".

At Prineville, pre-cast concrete panels, corrugated metal and insulated glass panels were among the materials used.

The choice of materials at Prineville was also in part driven by a desire to "minimise the amount of truck traffic" that the site required, thus adding to its environmental credentials.

Facebook's iterative approach to data centre design is evident in the changes in building materials between Prineville, Forest City and Luleå.

"Both Prineville and Forest City used precast concrete panels. In Forest City we also introduced insulated precast panels," Magarelli said.

"In Luleå, the material of choice is insulated metal panels.

"We've kind of adopted that in our subsequent projects, so much so that we are now using it as interior partitions within the actual data centre penthouse spaces.

"It goes up very quickly, again reducing the amount of material that one would generate in the construction of one of our centres."

Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.


Facebook ekes IT efficiency from sleek data centre design
Facebook's Marco Magarelli.
 
 
 
Top Stories
Frugality as a service: the Amazon story
Behind the scenes, Amazon Web Services is one lean machine.
 
Negotiating with the cloud email megavendors
[Blog post] Lessons from Woolworths’ mammoth migration.
 
Qld govt to move up to 149k staff onto Office 365
Australia's largest deployment, outside of the universities.
 
 
Facebook's Marco Magarelli.
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...

Latest VideosSee all videos »

The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
Scott Noteboom, CEO of LitBit speaking at The Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2014 in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. http://bit.ly/1qpxVfV Scott Noteboom is a data centre engineer who led builds for Apple and Yahoo in the earliest days of the cloud, and who now eyes Asia as the next big opportunity. Read more: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/372482,how-do-we-serve-three-billion-new-internet-users.aspx#ixzz2yNLmMG5C
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
To COTS or not to COTS? iTnews asks Karl Maftoum, CIO of the ACMA, at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
AEMO chief information officer Susan Sly calls for more collaboration among Australia's technology leaders at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Credit Union Australia's David Gee awarded Finance CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards.
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Damon Rees named Retail CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Woolworths.
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Acting Foxtel CIO David Marks accepts an iTnews Benchmark Award on behalf of Robyn Elliott.
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Sanjay Mehta named Industrial CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at ConocoPhillips.
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Greg Wells named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at NSW Health.
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
William Confalonieri named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Deakin University.
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
David Johnson named Government CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at the Queensland Police Service.
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott discuss the Coalition's broadband policy with the press.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
The Australian Federal Police have arrested a Sydney-based IT security professional for hacking a government website.
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO Chrissy Burns talks data.
New UTS Building: the IT within
New UTS Building: the IT within
The IT behind tomorrow's universities.
iTnews' NBN Panel
iTnews' NBN Panel
Is your enterprise NBN-ready?
Introducing iTnews Labs
Introducing iTnews Labs
See a timelapse of the iTnews labs being unboxed, set up and switched on! iTnews will produce independent testing of the latest enterprise software to hit the market after installing a purpose-built test lab in Sydney. Watch the installation of two DL380p servers, two HP StoreVirtual 4330 storage arrays and two HP ProCurve 2920 switches.
The True Cost of BYOD
The True Cost of BYOD
iTnews' Brett Winterford gives attendees of the first 'Touch Tomorrow' event in Brisbane a brief look at his research into enterprise mobility. What are the use cases and how can they be quantified? What price should you expect to pay for securing mobile access to corporate applications? What's coming around the corner?
Ghost clouds
Ghost clouds
ACMA chair Chris Chapman says there is uncertainty over whether certain classes of cloud service providers are caught by regulations.
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Privacy experts David Vaile (UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre) and Craig Scroggie (CEO, NextDC) claim they were not surprised by the Snowden leaks about the NSA's PRISM program.
Latest Comments
Polls
Which bank is most likely to suffer an RBS-style meltdown?





   |   View results
ANZ
  21%
 
Bankwest
  9%
 
CommBank
  11%
 
National Australia Bank
  17%
 
Suncorp
  24%
 
Westpac
  19%
TOTAL VOTES: 1450

Vote