Feeds

Facebook reveals 700TB of tiered RAM and flash power Graph Search

The Social NetworkTM lifts skirts, shows glimpses of MySQL, Hadoop and Unicorn

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Facebook has revealed a little more detail about how it built Graph Search, the feature it took live a couple of weeks back to enable better searching of the billion posts it now collects each day.

The reveal came in a blog post, as is the fashion at this time, that explains building better search across posts is hard because Facebook has “70 different kinds of data we sort and index on, many of them specific to certain types of posts.”

That's all managed by MySQL, which passes data to a HBase cluster before Hadoop gets to work. At this point “Unicorn”, Facebook's name for the tech powering its search engine, gets involved and the result is a colossal index with a very substantial cache that the company tries to treat as gently as possible.

Keeping the cache happy is not a trivial task, so the company has devised the following tiering regime:

“However, storing more than 700 terabytes in RAM imposes a large amount of overhead, as it involves maintaining an index that is spread across many racks of machines. The performance cost of having these machines coordinate with each other drove the Unicorn team to look into new solutions for serving the posts index. The solution we decided on involves storing the majority of the index on solid-state flash memory. We managed to preserve performance by carefully separating out the most frequently accessed data structures and placing those in RAM.”

RAM as tier zero and flash as tier one are suggested as the recipe for fast access to data by just about the whole storage and big data industries, so Facebook's infrastructure will please many a sales and marketing person and probably make its way into lots of slideware before too much time passes.

Perhaps a little more interesting is the post's statement that Graph Search was built “in the past year by a few dozen engineers”. Plenty of lesser projects take more time and more people, suggesting the most interesting thing IT pros and their managers can learn from Graph Search might be how the project was managed and the hardware designed and implemented, rather than the configurations chosen. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster
6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
Symantec backs out of Backup Exec: Plans to can appliance in Jan
Will still provide support to existing customers
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.