Facebook Data Centres Publish Real-Time Green Data

facebook prineville data centre

How green are Facebook’s data centres? Check out the dashboards

Facebook has published data centre efficiency figures on real-time dashboards for two of its data centres in Prineville Oregon and Forest City North Carolina. Its Lulea, Sweden facility will soon follow.

The move is a response to criticism of Facebook’s energy usage, and a means to publicise its involvement in moves to improve data centre efficiency, such as the Open Compute Project. The two data centres have very creditable PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) ratings of 1.09 and 1.10, according to the dashboards, which show data with a 2.5-hour delay. The dashboards also display another environmental measure – the centres’ water usage.

facebook prineville data centre dashboardPUE figures online

“Why are we doing this? Well, we’re proud of our data centre efficiency, and we think it’s important to demystify data centres and share more about what our operations really look like,” said Facebook sustainability program manager Lyrica McTiernan in a blog post at the Open Compute Project, a Facebook-backed scheme to develop lower energy technology for data centres.

The Open Compute Project publishes the specifications of the custom-built “no-frills” servers which Facebook uses in its data centres, and the dashboards answer the next logical question, said McTiernan: “What really happens when those servers are installed and the power’s turned on?”

PUE measures the amount of energy used in the entire plant, divided by the amount that powers the IT equipment – so a 1.1 figure  means only about ten percent of the energy is “wasted”, and compares well with legacy data centres which have, in the past, had a PUE as high as 2, meaning as much energy is used in cooling systems as in the servers.

Similarly, WUE measures how efficiently a site uses water, and how much polluted water it produces.

The dashboard displays fluctuations in PUE and WUE over the last day, as well as periods of up to a year, along with the humidity and outdoor temperature at the sites.

Facebook says the dashboard will also be published for its European data centre, being constructed in Lulea, Sweden, which uses hydroelectric power, and is Facebook’s first data centre outside the US.

The code for the dashboard is available as open source, and McTiernan says she hopes others will use and improve it:  “Sometime in the coming weeks we’ll publish the code on the Open Compute Project’s GitHub repository. All you have to do is connect your own CSV files to get started.”

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