Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Saturday, August 8, 2020
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Wind Will Power New Facebook Datacenter 

Facebook announced this week its fifth datacenter under construction in Fort Worth, Texas, would be powered by renewable energy sources, including wind.

The social media giant said the new $1 billion datacenter would use only renewable energy sources after it completed a deal to bring 200 megawatts of wind energy to the Texas power grid.

Ken Patchett, director of datacenter operations for Facebook's western region, said in post the wind energy deal was worked out with Citigroup Energy, Alterra Power Corp. and Starwood Energy Group. Construction on the 200-megawatt wind farm is underway at a 17,000-acre site about 90 miles from the new datacenter. Facebook said its expects power produced by the wind energy project to hit the grid sometime during 2016.

"Two hundred megawatts is more energy than we will need for the foreseeable future," Patchett added.

Among the energy conservation innovations being integrated into the new Facebook datacenter is the ability to use outside air for cooling rather than air conditioning. The company said it is using evaporative cooling to lower temperatures in its server rooms. The technique involves spraying the inside air with a fine mist of water. When humidity peaks, a "direct expansion" coil system kicks in to dehumidify datacenter air.

The technique has allowed Facebook to construct datacenters in warm climates like North Carolina and Texas.

Patchett said the Fort Worth datacenter also would incorporate the latest versions of Facebook's Open Open Compute Project hardware designs for energy efficient servers along with storage and networking. They include its 6-pack modular switch, the Wedge top-of-rack network switch and Yosemite, its modular chassis for high-end micro-servers.

The wind-powered Fort Worth datacenter joins Facebook's global infrastructure that includes sites in Prineville, Ore., Forest City, N.C., Altoona, Iowa, and Lulea, Sweden.

Facebook launched the Open Compute Project in 2010 to release its hardware and datacenter designs. It shifted to open-source hardware designs when it opened its Prineville datacenter. The company estimated last year it has reduced infrastructure costs by $1.2 billion, a figure that does not include energy savings.

Along with energy efficient hardware and datacenter designs, Facebook has also rolled out a datacenter fabric at its Altoona facility as an upgrade to its production network. The network upgrade responds to soaring machine-to-machine (M2M) traffic along with hitting limits on the number of server clusters able to handle M2M along with "machine-to-user" traffic.

Facebook said the goal was to "make the entire datacenter building one high-performance network, instead of a hierarchically oversubscribed system of clusters." A disaggregated approach was adopted in which large devices and clusters were replaced with "server pods," which company architects describe as breaking "the network up into small, identical units."

The result was "uniform high-performance connectivity between all pods in the datacenter," the company said.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

One Response to Wind Will Power New Facebook Datacenter

  1. [email protected] Center

    Thats a great move from the social media giant since a data center is going to use a lot of energy. Renewable sources of energy like solar energy, wind energy are the best options that should be harnessed to save the environment for future generations. Kudos to Facebook.


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