Facebook flaunts data centre efficiency

Checking what your friends are up to isn’t the only thing you can do on Facebook – you can now snoop on how much energy the social media business is […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Checking what your friends are up to isn’t the only thing you can do on Facebook – you can now snoop on how much energy the social media business is using.

The networking site has created two new interactive graphs which show the power usage efficiency or PUE of its two huge data centres in the United States. The ‘dashboards’ update with information about the Prineville and Forest City data centres every 60 seconds.

Experts at the Uptime Institute say the average PUE of a data centre is 2.5. In comparison Facebook’s average PUE at the Prineville site appears to fluctuate between 1.6-1.8, while the Forest City site moves between 1.09-1.11.

A similar measure of its water, the Water Usage Effectiveness which is a ratio of data centre water use to the energy delivered to the servers, shows Prineville uses 0.44-0.56 litres for every kilowatt hour of power, while the Forest City is around 0.18-19.

The buildings are said to be full of “vanity free” equipment, with no extra plastic and “significantly fewer” parts.

Writing on the Open Compute blog which Facebook runs, the Programme Manager for Facebook’s sustainability team Lyrica McTiernan explained they were “proud” of their data centre efficiency.

She said: “We think it’s important to demystify data centres and share more about what our operations really look like. Through the Open Compute Project (OCP), we’ve shared the building and hardware designs for our data centres. These dashboards are the natural next step, since they answer the question, “What really happens when those servers are installed and the power’s turned on?”

The data centres aren’t finished yet which may lead to a few “wonky numbers”, she added: “All our data centres are literally still construction sites, with new data halls coming online at different points throughout the year. Since we’ve created dashboards that visualise an environment with so many shifting variables, you’ll probably see some weird numbers from time to time. That’s OK. These dashboards are about surfacing raw data – and sometimes, raw data looks messy.”