AMD Data Center Consolidation Effort Starting to Pay Off

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2014-03-24 Print this article Print

AMD chose the Suwanee site because of the less-expensive power in Georgia and the tax advantages in the state, according to Bynum.  The executives said those advantages, combined with moving the Austin data center and the selling of the Texas campus, will result in $8.5 million in annual savings.

The Georgia facility has space for 10 1,500-square-foot data halls, though currently only two are being used. Much of the rest of the building is old warehouse space that will be converted as more of the older sites are consolidated into this one. Each data hall also has accompanying air cooling and power rooms. Both operating data halls account for about 6,000 square feet of IT space, with about 204 racks of IT equipment. About 1.2 megawatts of power are being used now, though the current capacity is 2 MW. That capacity can be expanded to 10 MW, according to company officials.

AMD reduced the 289 racks of IT equipment in its Austin facility to 160 racks in Suwanee, reducing power usage from 2.8 MW to 1.2 MW. The company is using a range of methods for cooling the data center and its systems, from hot aisle containment between the racks to higher chilled water temperatures (which means less infrastructure needed than in typical data centers) and—when possible in the Southern state—the use of fresh outside air.

The data center is processing 31,000 jobs per hour, or more than 23 million a month.

Through the consolidation, AMD is able to refresh its IT with more modern equipment, helping to reduce space and power requirements as well as operating costs. For example, AMD is virtualizing more than 90 percent of the corporate data center environment—the company's engineering grid is not as heavily virtualized—enabling the company to decommission 76 percent of its physical servers and 72 percent of its virtual servers before making the move from Austin, and reducing rack space by 45 percent.

Older servers running on one- and two-core processors were replaced by servers from Hewlett-Packard and Dell powered by two- to 16-core Opteron processors and 256GB of memory, the company said. Four racks of 4-year-old servers were replaced by a single rack of more modern and efficient systems, helping to reduce costs. The data center also is using some systems from AMD's SeaMicro business.

"What surprised me was [as the company got set to move the Austin facility] was how much gear we had that we did not know we had," Dominguez said. "It was amazing to me."

The changes were not limited to hardware. AMD made significant moves with its hardware, such as moving from an Oracle relational database to a system leveraging Apache Hadoop, Apache HBase using the Apahce HDFS distributed file system and other Apache Foundation technologies running on Opteron-powered Dell servers. The move improved performance and save AMD money, according to AMD's Lewis.

She noted the work AMD has done in the open-source community, not only with the Apache Foundation but also through the Facebook-led Open Compute Project, including the development of the Open 3.0 server motherboard. AMD's new data center also will help showcase what can be done in data centers by leveraging open technology, she said.

"The concept of Open Compute is still a new concept," Lewis said. "People are picking it up and playing with it."


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