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Facebook’s New Prineville Center

Facebook's Going GreenAs part of the Open Compute Project, Facebook revealed last month their super efficient new database center in Prineville, Oregon. Now, the center is open and showing off why it believes it will earn LEED Gold certification, using 38 percent less power than a typical data center.

Facebook is sharing with the public the technology they developed to become more efficient. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “We’re trying to foster this ecosystem where developers can easily build startups. By sharing this, we think we can make it more efficient for this ecosystem to grow.”

Prineville was chosen for the over 200,000-square-foot data center. The goal of the data center is to “to create the most efficient compute at the best economics possible, and (make it) really good for the environment,” according to Jonathan Heiliger, Facebook’s head of technical operations.

Heiliger said a data center’s efficiency is measured by its power usage effectiveness (PUE — a ratio of the amount of power going into the data center used to compute versus power used to run building functions. An ideal data center has a 1.0 PUE, meaning 100 percent of the power goes into computing; however, the industry average is 1.5. Previously, Facebook has leased data centers that averaged a PUE of between 1.4 and 1.6. With its own design and hardware technology, the Prineville site has a PUE ratio of 1.07. The data center uses 38 percent less energy than Facebook’s existing data centers, including those in California.

Facebook’s manager of hardware design Amir Michael said the company designed servers that feature a 94.5 percent efficient power supply that accepts both alternate- and direct-current power. The design is vanity-free with no paint, stickers, or logos, which allows them to use 22 percent fewer materials. It weighs 6 pounds less than a traditional server. Its also taller for increased thermal efficiency.

While they have made great strides in green efficiency, Facebook has taken heat for the fact that the energy that is supplied to the facility comes from the coal-fired power, delivered via utility company PacifiCorp.

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