Several years ago when Facebook found its computing requirements were beginning to outstrip its infrastructure's ability to keep up, the company launched a project to design a data center that would not only be scalable enough for its needs, but also would be more cost effective and power efficient.
The social media company's success with that effort prompted it in 2011 to share its newly acquired data center design skills with others in the industry via an initiative called the Open Compute Project (OCP). Along with Intel, Rackspace and Goldman Sachs, the company positioned OCP as an open standard for energy efficient and highly scalable computing, using mostly commodity hardware.
The latest to join the OCP effort is Google, which Wednesday announced plans to contribute a specification it developed internally for rack-based computing equipment in data centers. Google's specification covers a 48V rack power distribution unit and a new form factor designed to accommodate OCP racks in its data centers.
Google has been designing and using 48V infrastructure at scale in its data centers for years and is confident enough about the robustness of its design to release it to the OCP community, said John Zipfel, technical program manager, at Google in a blog post.
The industry as a whole is working on addressing data center energy consumption issues and dealing with increasingly high-power workloads, Zipfel said. "It makes sense to standardize this new design by working with OCP," he said. "We believe this will help everyone adopt this next generation power architecture and realize the same power efficiency and cost benefits as Google."
Zipfel described the release of the rack specification as an initial, first step for Google in the OCP community. Google will explore other areas of collaboration, including those involving server and network management systems. he said.
As one example, he pointed to an initiative that Google announced recently that involves working with other vendors and academic researchers to develop new data center class disk technologies that are optimized for cloud data storage environments.
The company says it wants to explore the impact that physical changes, like taller drives or different groupings of disks, will have on performance, energy consumption and design efficiency. The goal is to be able to design disks that offer higher capacity and more I/O operations per second at a total lower cost of ownership compared to current generation disk technology.
Google's objectives with the OCP initiative are similar in nature and continue the company's advocacy of more efficient data center power technologies that it's engaged in for more than a decade. In 2006, the company publicly released details of a 12V rack architecture that it had been using internally for years to support its massive server infrastructure.
According to Zipfel, the 48V rack power distribution system, which Google started developing in 2010, is 30 percent more energy efficient than the 12V version for high-performance systems.