When he isn’t giving away his vast fortune, bringing the internet to remote parts of the earth, or trying to rid the world of all disease, Mark Zuckerberg continues to run a social media network that boasts nearly two billion active monthly users - and that requires some innovative tech.
To show off some of Facebook’s cutting-edge, eco-friendly hardware, Zuckerberg is posting rare images of the technology on his own FB profile. First up is its massive data center facility in Luleå, Sweden, which stores the world’s largest archive of photos, as well as an increasing number of videos.
As the site is located less than 70 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the temperature in the area is often below 50 degrees. Zuckerberg showed the huge fans that draw cold air from the outside to cool the tens of thousands of servers in the data hall. In the winter, when temperatures can drop to minus 30, the heat from the servers is used to warm the building, which is about the size of six football fields.
The natural cooling/heating system, along with the power from a dozen nearby hydro-electric plants, mean the facility is 10 percent more efficient than traditional data centers and consumes 40 percent less power. Google is another company trying to reduce its data center energy usage; the search engine giant is using it Deep Mind AI to efficiently manage servers and environmental controls.
As big as the building is, there are only around 150 people working inside its halls. Zuckerberg says that because of the simplified design, just one technician is required for every 25,000 servers. They often travel about on scooters, given the enormous size of the center.
The Facebook CEO explains how the equipment has been stripped back to its bare bones so it can be accessed and repaired quickly. “A few years ago, it took an hour to repair a server hard drive. At Luleå, that’s down to two minutes," he said.
Max Zavyalov, a network engineer in the Edge & Network Services team, was equally enthusiastic about the hardware: “Look at these racks, the network devices, the cabling. Everything is like reference model!”
Through its Open Compute Project, Facebook releases its data center hardware designs to other developers and engineers. “We come from a proud hacker background and from a company largely built upon open source philosophy in software,” said Joel Kjellgren, Luleå Site Manager. “We just couldn’t understand why the same principles couldn’t apply to hardware.”
It’s not all about power and efficiency; there’s also the question of privacy and security. Zuckerberg posted an image showing the huge number of old and obsolete hard drives that have been crushed to protect their contents.
As a final word, Facebook’s director of data center design engineering Jay Park claimed that “There is no more efficient data center in the world.” And the company isn't slowing down; when the Los Luna, New Mexico site comes online in late 2018, it will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy and the company's seventh data center.