Google Joins Facebook’s OCP, Gives A Cost-Saving Idea

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Google has joined Facebook’s Open Compute Project and immediately suggested a new design for server racks that could assist cloud data centers in reducing their energy bills. Facebook started the OCP for end-user companies to collect and design their own data center equipment which is free of unnecessary features that increase costs for traditional vendor products.

Amazon still to join OCP

Facebook started the OCP six years ago, and Google, which operates some of the most advanced data centers, stayed away from the group even when other big cloud providers like Microsoft joined it. But at the OCP Summit in Silicon Valley, the search giant announced that it has joined.

Amazon is now the last of the four big hyperscale cloud providers that is not the part of the OCP. Even Apple joined the group last year. The OCP Summit runs for two days, and major companies like Intel and Microsoft are submitting new specifications at the event.

The new rack design provided by Google distributes power to servers at 48 volts, which is much more than the 12 volts used by most data centers. The new design is better than the old 12-volt system because it decreases electrical conversion losses by 30%, says Google. The search giant informed conference attendees that the technology is ready for use as thousands of racks have already been deployed in its own data centers.

Google already using this design

Urs Holzle, the senior vice president in charge of Google’s infrastructure, said, “The key thing that we figured out was, to get the efficiency in cost and power, you have to directly feed the 48 volts to the motherboard and convert it only in one step. So these workloads have only one AC-to-DC transformation step, and you step down the 48 volts — for example, at the CPU — to around 1 volt.”

Holzle said they are not just considering higher voltage but rather, Google’s specification calls for a rack that’s a bit shallower as the current OCP’s rack design is too deep for the narrow aisles in its data centers. Further, he said that Facebook and Google worked on the design together, and the former may use the 48-volt racks in its own data centers as well.

Holzle concluded saying, “There’s [sic] lots of opportunities both in the physical form factor to save costs, and then in the overall architecture to save complexity.”

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