Monthly Archives: February 2013
Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU), often referred to as the Google of China, has adopted new, low-power servers from Marvell Technologies (NASDAQ: MRVL). A large tech company adopting low-power servers isn’t typically news, but in this case it’s certainly news for the chip sector. Baidu’s new servers are built around ARM Holdings (NASDAQ: ARMH) chip designs, a key shift in server design. ARM dominates the smartphone chip market, providing the designs found in the majority of mobile devices, and now has eyes on the server market.
Digital storage is crucial to many business models, especially cost sensitive cloud based business models. These applications are often on the cutting edge of technology while at the same time facing enormous challenges in terms of data center energy consumption and operating costs, scaling up storage capacity to meet demand and protecting user data.
Nearly two years ago, Facebook unveiled what it called the Open Compute Project. The idea was to share designs for data center hardware like servers, storage, and racks so that companies could build their own equipment instead of relying on the narrow options provided by hardware vendors. While anyone could benefit, Facebook led the way in deploying the custom-made hardware in its own data centers. The project has now advanced to the point where all new servers deployed by Facebook have been designed by Facebook itself or designed by others to Facebook’s demanding specifications.
Given the degree to which open source software has worked its way into the corporate data center, it’s interesting to dream about how “open source hardware” espoused by the Open Compute Project might let us cast off the yoke of vendor lock-in and save money on data center hardware. The reality is that hardware designed to meet the needs of Facebook and Rackspace may not be much use to the average enterprise data center. The first thing you have to realize about Open Compute designs is that, like the rich, service providers are different. They don’t buy servers one or even a hundred at a time; they provision whole data centers all at once. Those servers are also committed to very specific use cases rather than general-purpose computing.
This week, we caught up with Keven McCammon, onsite manager at Facebook’s flagship Forest City data centre in North Carolina. Billed as one of the most energy efficient data centres in the world, and the first to deploy v2 OpenCompute Project web servers at scale, Forest City is the template that all future Facebook data centres are set to follow. We asked McCammon about the new technologies being deployed and the day-to-day runnings of the facility.