Category Archives: Research
Optical storage has also been used for long-term data retention and environmental stress tests indicate that the latest generation of Blu-ray optical media should have an expected life-time of at least several decades. At the Creative Storage Conference Bill Cubellis from Sony said that properly made archival grade optical discs should have a shelf life of 50 years. At the Open Compute Project Summit in January 2014 Facebook presented a 1 PB Blu-ray disc storage system prototype with 10,000 discs. Facebook estimated that this system would reduce the storage costs by 50% and the energy consumption by 80% compared to their current cold storage system (probably HDD based).
Founded in 2011, the Open Compute Project has been gaining attention from more and more organizations. The promise of lower cost and open standards for IT servers and other hardware seems like a worthwhile endeavor; one that should benefit all users of IT hardware, as well as improving the energy efficiency of the entire data center ecosystem. The open source concept has proven itself successful for software, as witnessed by the widespread adoption and acceptance of Linux, despite early rejection from enterprise organizations.
This was a busy week for digital storage meetings with the Facebook sponsored Open Compute Project Summit right across the street from the SNIA Winter Symposium and the Non-Volatile Memory Storage Industry Summit. I want to talk about both events and their implications to the future of digital storage. This piece will cover some observations about digital storage at the Open Compute event.
People share more than 4.75 billion things every day on Facebook, like status updates, wall posts, photos, videos and comments, Facebook says. They also “Like” more than 4.5 billion things daily and send more than 10 billion messages. It requires a mind-boggling huge technical infrastructure to deliver all of that — hundreds of thousands of servers, hard drives, and so on.
No-name server makers posted stronger year-to-year revenue growth than traditional powers such as Hewlett-Packard and IBM in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to new Gartner data. The news, which falls in line with a trend going back to the third quarter of 2011, makes sense as webscale companies — Google, Facebook, etc. — demand inexpensive but custom-tailored servers for their data centers.
Building a data center based on Open Compute Project designs in a relatively hot and humid area like Forest City, North Carolina, presented some interesting challenges. Chief among them, of course, was whether the 100% outdoor air cooling system Facebook debuted in our Prineville, Oregon, facility could operate as efficiently in an environment where the ASHRAE 50-year maximum wet bulb temperature is 21% higher, at 84.5°F instead of 70.3°F.
Server sales are up after a sluggish start to 2012, but growth isn’t coming from the incumbent server vendors, say several new reports. The “other” category, which includes Quanta and other companies building custom servers for large cloud companies had the most impressive growth, suggesting a significant impact for Open Compute designs at the expense of major server makers like Dell and HP.
Amir Michael, Facebook’s manager of system engineering, is stood in the company’s hardware lab trying not to get in the way of the assorted engineers, wheelie-chairs and bottles of water scattered around the room, describing Facebook’s attempt to democratise hardware. “We’re trying to take away a lot of the uniqueness of server design” to create a “clean, open canvas” for companies to base their datacentres around, he explains.
The server business last year netted vendors $34.4 billion on sales of 8
bmillion servers according to IDC, but those numbers don’t show how that business is changing. For that compare the growth in the traditional x86 market that sold those 8 million servers which grew a mere 3.7 percent year over year, to what IDC calls the densely optimized servers used in webscale deployments. That segment grew by 51.5 percent year over year in units sold, and now represent 3.2 percent of all server revenue and 6.1 percent of all server shipments.