Facebook publishes specs for efficient data centre

Social networking giant has published the design specifications for the efficient data centre infrastructure it developed to cut energy consumption

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Facebook, the largest social network in the world, has published the technical specifications for the efficient data centre systems it developed to reduce its own energy consumption.

The systems were designed for Facebook's new data centre in Oregon, which it says runs at a power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.07.

In what it calls the Open Compute Project, Facebook is publishing everything from the server specification and rack design to the configuration of its power infrastructure and cooling systems.

The company says it hopes other organisations use the specifications to find flaws and to develop improvements. Computer maker Dell and US distributor Synnex have said they will sell equipment built to Facebook's specifications.

Facebook has come under criticism for its energy footprint, especially from activist group Greenpeace, which last year slammed the company's use of coal generation to power the Oregon facility.

The Open Compute Project was not enough to silence Greenpeace's criticisms. "It’s commendable that Facebook is working to increase the energy efficiency of its business, and specifically its data centres, an area of neglect for many years," said Greenpeace campainger Casey Harrell in a statement. "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 simply not enough

“If Facebook wants to be a truly green company, it needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions," Harrell commented. "The way to do that is decouple its growth from its emissions footprint by using clean, renewable energy to power its business instead of dirty coal and dangerous nuclear power."

Like Google and Yahoo before it, Facebook has made a number of the internally-developed technologies publicly available under an open source license. Examples include non-relational database NoSQL and Hive, a highly-scalable data warehouse system.