Google rocks up to Facebook's DIY-data-center party with six pack of rack blueprints

Time to get high on your own 48V supply

OCP Summit Rather than loiter at the fringes of Facebook's Open Compute Project, Google has decided to enter the game.

Google was, until now, a peripheral acquaintance of the project. Now it's turned up to the party with the enterprise IT equivalent of a six pack of beer: server blueprints.

The Open Compute Project encourages hardware manufacturers to build servers and other data center equipment to a common set of standards and specifications, allowing large organizations to buy the boxes in bulk and use software to customize and control the hardware.

Today, Google has donated rack designs to the Open Compute Project (OCP) that can feed extra juice – specifically, a higher voltage than usual – to servers and increase energy efficiency. Simply put, it is more efficient to distribute electricity at higher voltages.

The blueprints are being scrutinized by the project's experts before they are accepted and published.

"Google will contribute a new rack specification that includes 48V power distribution and a new form factor to allow OCP racks to fit into our data centers," said John Zipfel, Google's technical program manager, on Wednesday.

"We kicked-off the development of 48V rack power distribution in 2010, as we found it was at least 30 per cent more energy efficient and more cost effective in supporting these higher-performance systems.

"Our 48V architecture has since evolved and includes servers with 48V to point-of-load designs, and rack-level 48V Li-Ion UPS systems. Google has been designing and using 48V infrastructure at scale for several years, and we feel comfortable with the robustness of the design and its reliability."

Google hopes these rack designs will be picked up by manufacturers and standardized, making it easier for the web giant to snap up compatible kit from various different suppliers while knowing all the gear os built to a common spec.

"The upshot is that Google wants the entire industry to move to 48-volt racks and have a common standard that will end up benefitting the hyperscalers most because they are much more dependent on IT infrastructure than other businesses," noted Timothy Prickett Morgan, coeditor of our sister site, The Next Platform.

OCP is ideal for hyper-scale cloud providers buying thousands of machines, but it's hoped even small enterprises and large businesses can make use of the blueprints, which are published on the OCP website. ®

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