Data center efficiency is quite the hot topic these days, and companies are keen to emphasize their green credentials. Rather than releasing their stats on a quarterly basis like most other companies, Facebook has launched a new live dashboard showing the efficiency of its Oregon and North Carolina facilities, and the numbers speak for themselves.
The dashboards, which update every minute with a two-and-a-half hour lag, provide public access to a number of measurements including Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE), humidity and temperature. PUE is perhaps the most important of these, and is the standard measurement for gauging the efficiency of any given site.
A perfect PUE would be 1.0, with everything after the decimal point representing the comparative degree of wasted energy. For example, a PUE of 2.0 represents a full watt used on overheads for every watt used by the IT equipment.
The dashboards show a three-month trailing PUE of 1.10 for the Forest City facility and 1.09 for the Prineville center. To put this into context, Google, a company that takes great pride in its green credentials, reported a PUE of 1.13 last year. Furthermore, best practice PUE is considered to be around 1.5 and a typical PUE is around 2.0.
The social networking giant achieves these impressive statistics through what it calls “vanity-free design," excluding all non-essential features and components from the final build. Furthermore, unlike typical data centers, Facebook's facilities don't utilize water towers or the re-circulation of water chilled air. Instead, they rely upon the outside air for cooling, pulling it into the facility and passing it over the servers.
In the past, Facebook has shared the building and hardware designs of its data centers through the Open Compute Program (OCP), and it views this new level of transparency as the logical next step in demystifying data centers and improving their efficiency. The end code for the dashboards themselves will also become publicly available in the coming weeks, making it that little bit easier for other companies to implement a similar system should they so wish.
Facebook isn't the first company to release a dashboard showing its energy stats. eBay recently launched a similar service, though its version doesn't focus solely on efficiency and doesn't provide live stats.
The company plans to provide live stats for its Luleå facility currently under construction in Sweden. In the meantime, it'll be interesting to watch and see whether Facebook can squeeze even more efficiency out of its data centers.
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