The Open Compute Project is committed to minimizing the environmental impact of infrastructure technology and energy consumption through continued evolution in energy and material efficiency. While traditional data center design often occurs in siloed components — a building, servers, and software — the Open Compute Project evaluates the influence of all components within the data center ecosystem, leading to optimized energy and material use as well as reduced environmental impact.
The Open Compute server’s vanity-free design eliminates nearly 6 pounds of material per server, reducing the amount of materials that need to be produced, transported, assembled, and eventually, disassembled. “Designing out,” or excluding, all non-essential features and non-relevant elements from the Open Compute servers allows for a custom chassis that minimizes the overall part count, accelerates assembly, and removes elements like a front panel, paint, and logos. Additionally, Open Compute servers can operate in a higher-temperature environment, reducing the overall cooling load required in a data center.
Open Compute Project in Practice
Facebook’s Prineville, Oregon, data center integrates data center design and server design into one ecosystem, built in tandem, to leverage the strengths of both the physical structure and the hardware it houses. As a result of the Open Compute Project, the Prineville data center, which opened in April 2011, is one of the most energy efficient in the world. As of the end of Q4 2012, the Prineville data center had a power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.09, meaning that more than 91% of energy from the grid makes it into every Open Compute server.
This PUE is significantly better than the EPA’s best practice of 1.5. Facebook’s energy consumption per unit of computing power has declined by 38%. The data represents annualized PUE beginning in April 2011 when the Prineville data center went live.
Facebook is also committed to reporting WUE — Water Usage Effectiveness — and installed new instrumentation at our Prineville, OR data center for this purpose. WUE, which The Green Grid developed, is a ratio of Annual Site Water Usage to IT Equipment Energy. By definition, WUE is an annualized calculation; however, we will report results on a quarterly basis, and those numbers will eventually become a 12-month trailing metric.
As of the end of Q4 2012, our WUE is 0.40 L/kWh. This represents the WUE for the data center’s first building over the past 9 months. You can learn more about water efficiency at the Prineville data center.
The Prineville data center uses outside air evaporative cooling, removing cooling towers and centralized chillers from the design. The traditional inline UPS system was also eliminated. Further energy efficiency savings were realized through the removal of a 480V to 208V transformation, resulting in less power loss during delivery. In a traditional data center, 11-17% of energy is lost just to transformation processes; only 2% is lost during the same process in Prineville. The passive cooling infrastructure and Ethernet-powered LED lighting also reduce the total energy required to run the facility.
In November 2011, the Prineville data center achieved the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. The data center consumes 52% less energy than a data center built to code requirements, consumes 72% less water for occupant use, and meets 100% of irrigation needs through rainwater capture.
Learn more about Facebook’s green initiatives.