Monthly Archives: July 2013
IDG News Service (New York Bureau) — Intel has shipped its first “open source PC,” a bare-bones computer aimed at software developers building x86 applications and hobbyists looking to construct their own computer. The PC, called the MinnowBoard, is basically a motherboard with no casing around it. It was codeveloped by Intel and CircuitCo Electronics, a company that specializes in open-source motherboards, and went on sale this month for US$199 from a handful of retailers.
Analysis If Intel really wanted to, it could build your entire data center infrastructure with just about all of the components necessary excepting disk drives, main memory, and operating systems for the servers, storage, and switches. And with a stretch, its Wind River Linux could probably cover that last bit. But that is not the Chipzilla plan for the glass house. Rather, Intel wants to sell an increasingly diverse set of components to those who assemble gear and thereby double up its revenues and profits from the data center.
While for smaller data center operators decisions on technological solutions generally involve weighing options different vendors have made available on the market, for Internet businesses whose massive data center facilities contain all of their vital organs, there is also the option of doing it themselves. In many cases, companies like Facebook, much of whose business success depends on the quality of its data center infrastructure, have found the do-it-yourself option to be the best one. The social-network company has designed its own data centers and much of what goes inside them, including IT gear and mechanical and electrical infrastructure components.
Facebook users post 350 million photos on a typical day. On a holiday, like Christmas or New Year’s Eve, they post more than a billion. Altogether, Facebook now hosts more than 250 billion photos — and it’s seeking new technologies to store those old pictures efficiently and reliably at its data centers in Prineville and elsewhere around the world. “These are the precious memories of people around the world,” said Jay Parikh, Facebook’s vice president of infrastructure. “We can’t lose them.”
Next up was Jay Parikh from Facebook to talk to us about the Open Compute Project. Jay jumped in to explain where the project has come since last year … but didn’t explain what the project was, so this is from the official site:
Facebook’s data center energy use grew 33 percent in 2012, as the company installed tens of thousands of servers in its new company-built data centers. The growth of the company’s power usage is disclosed in the company’s latestsustainability report, which also documents the company’s move to reduce its computing footprint in Silicon Valley, even as it boosts its reliance on leased space in northern Virginia.
Facebook’s Open Compute project, which is working on open source servers and switches, will be limited by “weaknesses” in scope that Cisco can exploit, CEO John Chambers said this week. Check this article from PCWorld.com. In an exclusive interview with Network World when he also touched on the consumer market and EMC alliance, Chambers said efforts like Facebook’s to commoditize and wring cost out of hardware purchases will open up opportunities for Cisco to provide solutions that are better tailored to specific customer needs.
There are two trends happening in the IT hardware market, each gaining momentum but offering very different ways of outfitting data centers. On the one hand, companies with enormous data centers such as Facebook, Rackspace, Google and Goldman Sachs are creating their own compute, storage and network devices using cheap, commodity components. The pieces are built to a standard – organized by the Open Compute Project (OCP) – to ensure they interoperate, and they are then are assembled to create hardware that is finely tuned to the specific needs of an organization.
It has become clear that ARM is invading the data center as chips built using its designs grow more powerful for enterprise computing loads and as the workloads and economics of webscale computing make the ARM architecture more attractive. But using ARM cores also changes the cost of designing a new chip, and frees the non-CPU elements on the chip from being dictated by a specific vendor.
MENLO PARK, CA—Building 17 of Facebook’s headquarters sits on what was once a Sun Microsystems campus known fondly as “Sun Quentin.” It now houses a team of Facebook engineers in the company’s electrical lab. Everyday, they push forward the company vision of how data center hardware should be built. These engineers constantly bench-test designs for their built-in-house server hardware—essentially putting an end to server hardware as we know it.