Facebook , the social networking giant which has made Mark Zuckerberg among wealthiest man on earth, recently announced a newest indirect cooling technology that promises to make data center more energy and water efficient. With 2 .19 billion users base, Facebook is one of the most heavily-trafficked websites on the internet. As per latest Alexa ranking facebook.com is third most visited site over internet. More traffic means more engaging your data center is going to be.
In January 2010 Facebook announced plans to build its own data centers, beginning with a facility in Prineville, Oregon. This typically requires a larger up-front investment in construction and equipment, but allows greater customization of power and cooling infrastructure. The social network has since expanded capacity in Prineville and built data centers in Forest City, North Carolina, Lulea, Sweden, and Altoona, Iowa. The company is also building data centers in Fort Worth, Texas, Clonee, Ireland, and Los Lunas, New Mexico.
Servers at data center require efficient cooling system to operate at optimum level. In most of the data system Facebook uses outdoor air and direct evaporative cooling systems for cooling. While in some locations, they use indirect cooling systems to protect IT equipment from harsh environmental conditions, such as high levels of dust, extreme humidity, or elevated salinity. Using outside air for data center cooling can be cumbersome in situation when there is high concentration of air pollutants in area. This is the reason Data center operators in China have struggled a lot and they are having higher equipment failing rate.
In the recent blog post, Facebook unveiled a new indirect cooling technology it plans to start using in data centers it builds in the future. It features an advanced evaporative cooling system that uses water instead of air to cool data centers.
“When deployed, the new cooling will allow us to build highly water- and energy-efficient Facebook data centers in places where direct cooling is not feasible,” Veerendra Mulay,Facebook’s research and development mechanical engineer, wrote. “Based on our testing in several different locations, we anticipate the (new) system can reduce water usage by more than 20 percent for data centers in hot and humid climates and by almost 90 percent in cooler climates in comparison with previous indirect cooling systems.”
Facebook currently uses indirect cooling systems in two locations worldwide. The new indirect cooling system – called the StatePoint Liquid Cooling (SPLC) system – will allow the company to consider building water- and energy-efficient data centers in areas that might not have been feasible before, he said.
“We evaluate the needs on a site-by-site basis,” he said about the choice of data center cooling design Facebook uses in each new location. “We look at the climate, the salinity in the air, and other conditions. But if we go indirect, this new technology is what we will use.”
Previous indirect cooling systems use two different air loops: an outside air loop and a processed data center air loop, Mulay said. The outside air is first cooled by evaporative cooling, and then that cold air cools the processed air used to cool the data center equipment.
With SPLC, a new loop – the “processed water loop” – is introduced. Instead of the traditional approach of using water to cool air, the new design uses air to cool water, which results in lower water consumption, according to Mulay.
The SPLC technology works in three modes to optimize water and power consumption.
- Normal mode
When outside air temperatures are low, the SPLC’s most energy- and water-efficient mode uses that air to produce cold water.
- Adiabatic mode
When outside air temperatures rise, the SPLC system engages the heat exchanger to cool the warm outside air before it goes into the recovery coil to produce cold water.
- Super-Evaporative mode
In hot and humid weather, the SPLC will operate in this mode, where outside air is cooled by a pre-cooling coil and then used to produce cold water.
Facebook co-developed the new data center cooling technology with Nortek Air Solutions. Nortek owns the patent for the SPLC technology.