Facebook uses 10,000 Blu-ray Discs to create 1 Petabyte cold storage

By on January 31, 2014, 12:00 PM
facebook, blu-ray, storage, cold storage, petabyte

Facebook has developed a prototype storage system that uses a 7 feet tall cabinet filled with 10,000 Blu-ray optical discs to store one Petabyte of data. The company is planning to use this cold storage system to store rarely accessed files, such as backups of users' photos and videos.

Blu-ray discs are ideally not used for primary storage because data retrieval is slow, but they are a good option for maintaining backups, especially if you consider the cost factor. According to Facebook's vice president of engineering, Jay Parikh, who was speaking at this year's Open Compute Summit, the new storage system would save Facebook 50 percent in costs and 80 percent in energy usage when compared to standard HDD cold storage techniques.

Parikh showed the prototype system on stage at the summit. From outside, it looks like any other server cabinet, but it uses a robotic arm inside to move the discs around. Facebook also released a video explaining how the system works.

Although the design of the storage system would be made public through the Open Compute Project, it is still not clear which portions of the build Facebook will submit to the project.

The prototype Blu-ray system is apparently already in use, and has 30 Petabytes of storage capacity. According to a GigaOm report, a second such resource will be online soon. The company expects to expand the storage capacity to 150 Petabytes within a few months.

Blu-ray is just an option for the cold storage, according to IDG News, Facebook is eventually eyeing a version based on low-power flash storage.




User Comments: 10

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ikesmasher said:

Untl one day someone kicks the prototype over...and half the discs snap and die.

TheBigFatClown said:

Well, when you have as much disposable income as Mark Zuckerberg does, I guess this is a fun science project. It will probably be obsolete in....oh.....the next 3 years....Maybe they can sell it on Ebay or something after that. I wonder if all the blu-ray discs are BDXL. Probably not since they said this was the most cost effective solution.

TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

It will be slow as hell, presumably it gets taken from the Blu-rays to a normal server if it starts getting more traffic.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

"The company is planning to use this cold storage system to store rarely accessed files, such as backups of users' photos and videos."

wtf?

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Neat idea, now why can't this be applied to hard drives in a similar matter, ie have the platters in a cartridge system and then bring them to the drive motor to be read. Transfer speed won't be negatively affect, just access time for obvious reason. Is this theoretically possible even. I can almost envision it, the containment unit will have to be seal and essentially a clean room in a box, that might be the biggest hurdle. After that it's robotics to move things around and an incredibly secure and stable mounting system for the platters. Any takers?

lipe123 said:

Why didn't they use flash drives right off the bat?

Isn't flash drives cheaper than Blu-ray discs and also doesn't require power to retain data and has much faster access and store speeds.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Untl one day someone kicks the prototype over...and half the discs snap and die.
Would this not be an issue with any solution?

Why didn't they use flash drives right off the bat?

Isn't flash drives cheaper than Blu-ray discs and also doesn't require power to retain data and has much faster access and store speeds.

Blu-ray Disk is approximately $1 per 25GB. Can you say the same for flash drives? I don't think so, seeing as a 32GB flash drive cost around $16.

10,000 BD = $10,000 or less

The equivalent in flash media would be approximately 12 times if not more in cost. Who wouldn't want to save $100K, when there are options available?

rvnwlfdroid said:

Personally this sounds like a pretty good low power consumption "backup" solution.

Guest said:

I really hope there is more than one reading laser in there.....oh my.

I remember how horrible the original 6 disc (data) changers were, and how Windows insisted on indexing EVERY disc upon a reboot.

I think this was cooked up on a coke binge.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Neat idea, now why can't this be applied to hard drives in a similar matter, ie have the platters in a cartridge system and then bring them to the drive motor to be read. Transfer speed won't be negatively affect, just access time for obvious reason. Is this theoretically possible even. I can almost envision it, the containment unit will have to be seal and essentially a clean room in a box, that might be the biggest hurdle. After that it's robotics to move things around and an incredibly secure and stable mounting system for the platters. Any takers?

It's easier to replace an entire HDD. Plus, it's platter/head contact which is usually the point of failure, not the actual platter shattering etc. Separate HDDs give you individual control motors + spindles + read heads etc.

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