Facebook sharing energy-saving data center tech

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Rendering of Facebook's new ultra-efficient Prineville data center.

Rendering of Facebook's new ultra-efficient Prineville data center.

Facebook Inc. on Thursday made public the design and server technology created for its Prineville data center, a facility it said will use 38 percent less power than a typical data center.

In making the technology accessible to the industry, Facebook hopes to gather input to improve on the design. But it also wants the technology to become widespread so that other companies can benefit from the energy and cost savings.

“We're trying to foster this ecosystem where developers can easily build startups,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during a news conference streamed live on Facebook.com. “By sharing this, we think we can make it more efficient for this ecosystem to grow.”

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based social networking giant announced in January 2010 that it had chosen Prineville for a $180 million, 147,000-square-foot data center. Then in August it said it would add another 160,000-square-feet to the facility, more than doubling its size.

Tom Furlong, Facebook's director of on-site operations, said the first phase of building out the data center has been completed, but has yet to come online. He wouldn’t say when that may happen, though the company has spent the past three months installing servers and network equipment.

The second phases of construction are now under way and should come online sometime this year.

The event Thursday served to detail both how Facebook, led by a three-person team, designed both the building and the server technology inside of it to fit the needs of powering social networking needs while driving down cost and power consumption.

Jonathan Heiliger, Facebook's head of technical operations, said the so-called Open Compute Project was launched a year-and-a-half ago with two goals: "to create the most efficient compute at the best economics possible, and (make it) really good for the environment."

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@ErikSiemers | esiemers@bizjournals.com | 503-219-3418

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