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Facebook Opens Their Data Center Infrastructure

Unknown Lamer posted more than 3 years ago | from the but-facebook-is-supposed-to-be-evil dept.

Facebook 90

gnu let us know about Facebook releasing specifications for their data center infrastructure as an open hardware project. They've released detailed electrical and mechanical data for everything from the server motherboards to the data center power distribution system. Digging further reveals that the specifications are licensed under the new Open Web Foundation Agreement which appears to be an actual open license. The breadth of data released really is quite amazing.

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Source Code (2)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751220)

So can we get our hands on the source code as well? Ahem ...

Re:Source Code (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35751260)

Not before you can get your hands on lots and lots of valuable personal information

Re:Source Code (1)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751280)

PHP?

Why for?

Re:Source Code (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751400)

PHP?

Why for?

Indeed. FORTRAN IV was good for my father, it's good enough for me.

Re:Source Code (2)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751598)

mmm, I must admit to developing in PHP.

Building purely event-driven systems using the language is more and more appearing to be lipstick on a pig. I'm can't invest a tonne of energy like facebook into severely beating the language into some semblance of efficiency.

Ugh, I guess I should motivate myself to become more proficient in Python or Java.

Re:Source Code (2)

sensei moreh (868829) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751790)

Hey, Fortran IV was good for me too - but not good enough. The computer center director at the university at which I was working offered to help me get one of my programs working, but only if I rewrote it in Pascal. So I did.

Varnish? What for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35754876)

Facebook relies on Varnish... which is even slower than the HTTP servers it is supposed to "accelerate".

See this study where Nginx and Lighttpd, to cite only the well-known, are shown to be BOTH much faster and consume much less CPU resources:

http://nbonvin.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/serving-small-static-files-which-server-to-use/

No wonder why you can afford to open-source your projects when they are so crappy...

Re:Source Code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35751594)

Jesus Christ, Google said they'd release the source code once they clean it up! Just be patient! Oh, sorry, wrong story. ATTN FACEBOOK: We demand that you release the source code immediately!!!

Faceboook (3, Interesting)

yeshuawatso (1774190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751266)

So open to our partners we'll even give them access to the servers themselves to poke around in your personal info directly.

On a serious note, the data center is pretty cool. Here's another source of pretty blue images that show better images regarding the evaporation cooling system.

http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/37295/?a=f [technologyreview.com]

You might have to 'skip' a couple HP ads but after about 2 or 3 they get the message that you're not interested.

Re:Faceboook (2)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751322)

A stark contrast to Google's nigh-on paranoid stance, the point of which I never really understood. It will be very interesting to see whether Facebook's open approach ultimately results in a lower infrastructure cost than Google's traditional secrecy. In this case my money is on open. Now how can I get some of that IPO? (Not a Facebook fanboy by any means, privacy issues are deeply disturbing.)

The cool thing about the Google/Facebook rivalry is, it's Linux vs Linux. I guess we'll be seeing more of that.

Re:Faceboook (3, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751662)

The difference is that Google at least lubes up before performing the search...

Re:Faceboook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35752480)

As I read this comment, I was wishing for a mouthful of coffee to spew all over my monitor.

Re:Faceboook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35756428)

I agree it is an epic battle of Linux. On another note I think it is important to look at why each is doing what they are doing. Google is not opening up about their hardware because they don't need to. Facebook is opening up about their hardware because they need to. Facebook in the past year or so have faced some pretty serious after shocks from those who are technically savvy and everyone knows that when you piss off the techs eventually that negativity filters down to the people which depend on them to fix their stuff. As far as I am concerned this was nothing more than a publicity stunt to take away from the negative press they've been getting. Google on the other-hand opens up a lot of software. VP8 & Android (eventually Honeycomb) are some examples. Both organizations are showing significant advancements from where they started. If I owned a more traditional technology company I'd be worried.

Re:Faceboook (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751380)

While Web firms such as Google and Microsoft invest a lot in improving data-center efficiency, they keep their designs a closely guarded secret.

Actually Google made their data center designs public years ago (quite similar to this setup, but IIRC they were using containers for a modular data center and they were using plain air cooling w/ AC) but not as an open hardware project.

Re:Faceboook (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751600)

Actually Google tried to keep the container based design secret, only trouble was everybody else thought of the same (obvious) thing. See Sun's "black box".

Re:Faceboook (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751914)

Google only reveals a design they are about to retire from what I've gathered, their current and N-1 designs are never discussed as far as I can tell.

Re:Faceboook (1)

kriston (7886) | more than 3 years ago | (#35754014)

I remember the cork-board server chassis and the fire hazard they presented. Facebook pulls way, way ahead of Google with these professional specifications. I'm especially fond of the omitted video processor, too.

Re:Faceboook (1)

Bug-Y2K (126658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35752188)

Google has never made their *datacenter* designs, or even their locations public. They have shared their server design, or at least an outdated one.

From what I've heard from Ex-Googlers they never actually deployed the container concept beyond one half, of one of their many, many facilities.

Now if only... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751306)

They would stop pestering me about how I need to get back on Facebook and blather on about everything I've been doing lately.

i mean, that's what /. is for. ffs.

Re:Now if only... (3, Funny)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751330)

by (1706743) and 4 others like this.

Re:Now if only... (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751836)

by (1706743) and 4 others like this.

Actually... that's a good point. We can currently alter relationships with other users on here, but it'd be interesting if we could "like" posts -- and see how that rating compared to regular moderation. You could even go so far as to say "5 friends, 10 friends of friends, 30 foes and 500 friends of foes liked this." Take it even further, and add "If you liked this comment, you may also like..." and provide a widget that lists comments/submissions liked by friends and friends of friends.

Re:Now if only... (1)

NoAkai (2036200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35754782)

I can definitely see something like this happening in the future, hell, just recently we got the Google +1 button [slashdot.org] , the EVE Online forums recently added [eveonline.com] a "native" (i.e. not linked to Facebook) like button. Not to mention all the Facebook "like" buttons strewn all over the web. But to summarize, I think we will be seeing a lot more "native" like-functions appear over the web, especially on forums and other sites aimed primarily at discussion. If nothing else, it may help cut down spam and "me too" posts.

Re:Now if only... (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35756152)

the EVE Online forums recently added [eveonline.com] a "native" (i.e. not linked to Facebook) like button.

Did you see the ad for it? It made me choke on my beer. It was so much like OMG PONIES.

What a waste of time and space (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35751310)

Open source data centers? Can things really be that lame?

Where's the storage? Where's the fault tolerance? Where's the monitoring? Where's the fire suppression? Where are the diesel generators? Where's the physical security?

Where's....jeesh...there's so much more to a datacenter than just servers and racks.

Some yahoo just got the idea to apply "open source" to something random. Damned if it makes any sense at all, but hey, it's OPEN SOURCE, so it's got to be GREAT!

Meh. Idiots all.

Re:What a waste of time and space (4, Insightful)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751418)

But didn't you just demonstrate the value by listing off the issues as you perceive them? Next step is discussion of your points to see if they are/are not addressed. Congratulations on your contribution to the open development process.

Re:What a waste of time and space (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35751480)

No. It's just dumb. Anyone with any smarts knows there are things such as blueprints, best practices, white papers, books, magazines, etc etc that cover this area in great detail. It's not like data center design is a big secret or has a lock-out to any interested parties.

Point is, this is just an ignorant application of a concept.

Re:What a waste of time and space (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751652)

So you think that just because the subject has been written about extensively a data center will just assemble itself magically in an optimal configuration?

Re:What a waste of time and space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35752412)

Of course not. They'll be built by people who know what the heck they're doing. Not by open-source wannabees.

Trying to open-source a datacenter design will not create anything optimal. It will just be a one-size-fits-no-one fiasco.

Re:What a waste of time and space (1)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | more than 3 years ago | (#35753172)

So, you are implying that all important open source software like Linux, BSD, Apache etc, is written by people who are "open-source wannabees"? Get real man, just because they open-sourced it doesn't mean it's going to become a wikipedia-like clusterfuck. Experienced and important people in the industry will be provided with the detailed blue-prints so that they can provide suggestions according to the requirements and budget.

Re:What a waste of time and space (1)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | more than 3 years ago | (#35753194)

That's the ideal case, of course.

Re:What a waste of time and space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35753248)

No. What's being said is that open-source wanabees shouldn't be building datacenters. They should stick to software.

Remember: If builders built buildings the way programmers build programs, the first woodpecker would destroy civilization. Lots of truth in that.

Re:What a waste of time and space (1)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | more than 3 years ago | (#35756648)

Replace "programmers" with "Microsoft" in that last sentance and you'd be closer. Seriously, I've seen OSS software take one -heck- of a lot more before breaking than Windows(Or, God forbid, some little piece of freeware/adware). OSS stuff generally works because when it breaks it gets /fixed/, and usually quickly too.

at this very moment (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35751362)

there are people having anal sex.. in your butt..

In soviet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35751390)

in soviet russia facebook opens you

Volume Please.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35751446)

It's interesting, if they didn't didn't play the background music at twice the volume as the people talking.

Awesome (1)

linuxguy (98493) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751454)

This is the sort of stuff everybody can benefit from. I wish more companies did this. And as an Oregon resident, this is doubly good for my state. BTW, what are large concrete security barriers doing there around the facebook data center? Is Facebook concerned about someone bombing them? Or do they serve a different purpose?

Re:Awesome (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751482)

They want to protect your data and your privacy, of course.

Oh, sometimes I crack myself up! In all seriousness though, props for releasing this information. (Also -- wanting to protect your data but not your privacy is not a real contradiction...just going for the cheap shot.)

Re:Awesome (4, Funny)

drpimp (900837) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751552)

Feng shui ?

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35751582)

They're not for security, but aesthetics. If they were intended for security, they'd prevent the long straight away into they lobby.

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35751792)

They are concerned about Pokes.

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35752150)

If you look at it from afar, the building was designed to look like a chip.

Re:Awesome (1)

Bug-Y2K (126658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35752200)

Purely decorative. They are not "security barriers" they are just decorative concrete slabs.

At least he's consistent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35751498)

At least Zuckerburg is consistent when it comes to sharing information.

Like (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751524)

I wish they'd release more than just the raw data; I'd love to hear/read what & how they came to the final design. Their quasi-competitor Google has always been good with this! (Remember the Chrome zines?)

Slashdot Effect (2)

standbypowerguy (698339) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751630)

Is it just me, or has Facebook been slashdotted? The page has been loading the whole time I typed this.

Re:Slashdot Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35752178)

And just *where* are WE in the list of top 20 www sites?

Not to be too anti-"us", but slashdot is hardly in a position to handle an all-out-at-once ... "Facebooking" with the 250+ million daily visitors they get as the #1 site of the web.

am I missing something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35751868)

how many of us are in a position where we need "open" plans on how to build a sparkly new data centre to serve half a billion people?

Listen facebook, if you want to do something worthwhile for humanity, you are in an amazing position to do so. Your actions right now are defining what we mean by "privacy" for the next century or more. If you sat down and wrote up a privacy policy with the sincerity as if you were writing the US constitution - defining your terms and what rights people should have - then you would be doing a great service to humanity

as it is, you're just showing off

Re:am I missing something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35754710)

You're not missing anything. The whole concept is just stupid.

Using CentOS (2)

ecliptik (160746) | more than 3 years ago | (#35751898)

Buried in the Intel Motheboard PDF on page 10 section 6.8 it says they're using CentOS 5.2 as the OS:

Update from the operating system over the LAN – the OS standard is CentOS v5.2

Also, in the chassis design it seems there are rubber passthrus to allow cables to go between servers above and below each other.

Re:Using CentOS (3, Informative)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 3 years ago | (#35752836)

Facebook publicly says they use CentOS. They also have a large Mirror for lots of different Open Source tools: https://developers.facebook.com/opensource/ [facebook.com]

Re:Using CentOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35753830)

Also, in the chassis design it seems there are rubber passthrus to allow cables to go between servers above and below each other.

That chassis position sounds like my wife demanding sex.

Re:Using CentOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35754502)

Um NO! Those rubber pass throughs are left over from abandoned attempts at water cooling.

Just a quote: "Facebook’s engineers designed a new type of server from scratch. Components can be snapped onto the circuit board like Legos, making assembly and maintenance less time-consuming."

Hmm Apple and IBM have both been doing this type of server/workstation design for YEARS. You never have to start on scratch...unless...your stupid.
Nothing innovative here, and no its not the most efficient design.

The other thing...Other servers have RAM in them. What? Face book does not use RAM? Nice... now that is efficient....

Kind of interesting (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#35752004)

Not sure how practical a PSU optimized for 277V input is for general use and the 450W max power is a bit tight for some Nehalem based configurations but overall it's pretty cool. The cold side containment, open frame cases, air side economizer, higher set points are now pretty standard design consideration. The airflow and fan optimizations were very cool but I'm not sure how applicable they are to most datacenters with a variable demand (I imagine FB runs their servers at a constant workload with only enough unused capacity to account for other datacenter outages).

Re:Kind of interesting (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35752244)

Commercial power (large buildings) is 3 phase 480 volt. (One leg of 3 phase 480 is 277 volts.) Normally motors (such as HVAC fans) are run directly from the 277/480 for highest efficiency and sometimes even the facility lighting will be fluorescent fixtures with 277 volt ballasts (again, highest possible efficiency.) There will be on premise transformers to knock the 480 down to 3 phase 208 volt. (One leg of 3 phase 208 is 120 volts.) This is used to power equipment (such as computers) that can not run directly from the primary 480 supply. By developing a power supply that can run from 277, you eliminate the power loss associated with that on premise 480 to 208 transformer. Each source of power loss you eliminate lowers your monthly electric bill.

Re:Kind of interesting (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#35752526)

Oh, I understand. It's just that most existing IT infrastructure is 120/240V or 208V, if you're doing a greenfield full on datacenter design 277V probably makes sense because you're potentially buying enough equipment to get rates close to the market rate for 100-240V auto-ranging power supplies and you can specify what your PDU design will be. But if you're like 90% of the market you either have standard service off a utility panel in shared space or an existing datacenter with UPS's and PDU's specified for the more traditional voltages. As an example I would have a hard time switching because my A side UPS is setup to go into multiple 240V busways from Starline and my B side UPS goes into panels that feed 240V L21 whips. Changing either over to a 480/277 setup would be quite capital intensive even if done at UPS replacement time, far beyond what a couple percent efficiency improvement could save. On the bright side for me we're going to reduce our power use by ~6.5kw next week when we shut off the servers for our old ERP environment, moving everything but the database to VM's was a real win all around =)

Re:Kind of interesting (1)

thsths (31372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755372)

> Not sure how practical a PSU optimized for 277V input is for general use and the 450W max power is a bit tight for some Nehalem based configurations but overall it's pretty cool.

277V is perfectly fine. It gives about 400V DC, which maintains a decent safety margin to the absolute peak voltage of 600V for standard MOSFETs. And it should require only very minor changes from the standard 110-240V power supply.

450W are a decent amount, too, assuming you can actually load the PSU with 450W (and it does not burn out at 80% capacity, like some of the cheaper "1000W" models).

POE LED lighting (1)

blackketter (72157) | more than 3 years ago | (#35752020)

The lights are even powered by Power-Over-Ethernet. Slick. Anyone know who supplies these?

From http://opencompute.org/specs/Open_Compute_Project_Data_Center_v1.0.pdf :

4.11 LED Lighting Systems
Energy-efficient LED lighting is used throughout the data center interior.
        Innovative power over Ethernet LED lighting system.
        Each fixture has an occupancy sensor with local manual override.
        Programmable alerts via flashing LEDs.

Re:POE LED lighting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35753650)

That's stupid. Putting your facility lighting into your data network?

Don't these idiots study failure modes? Apparently not.

There are many reasons software engineers aren't real, licensed engineers, and this is one of them.

Re:POE LED lighting (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 3 years ago | (#35754220)

That's stupid. Putting your facility lighting into your data network?... There are many reasons software engineers aren't real, licensed engineers, and this is one of them.

Presumably the installation is up to code and includes backup lighting, as is required for commercial buildings. But keep up the good work!

Re:POE LED lighting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35754332)

Providing power for workspace lighting over narrow wires? WTF?

STUPID STUPID STUPID.

"Why did the lights go off? Someone bricked the switch."

Real fine engineering, dudes.

Re:POE LED lighting (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35758282)

I don't see how POE is inherently 'efficient' *if* it's a power-only connection. I can see it as convenience if you have gobs of ethernet ports and you don't want to run cable, but otherwise I'd think a more simplistic circuit would do the job as good or better.

Grammatical Error (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35752118)

Your title reads: "Facebook Opens Their Data Center Infrastructure 35"

Since the word Facebook is singular it requires signular verbs and singular possessive adjectives. You have have the singular verb but have a plural possessive adjective.

The title should read: "Facebook Opens ITS Data Center Infrastructure 35"

Re:Grammatical Error (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35755410)

It is also correct to say so, u grammar uptight freak. Facebook can also be in reference to a collective, and that kind of grammar is all too common for such cases esp. in non-American english. They are acceptably known as "discretionary plurals". New Zealand are playing South Africa in the upcoming Rugby world cup.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35752634)

...Their not actually trying to make anything open source, so much as get others to conform to their system to make future expansion easier. Good to know, at least as a warning I suppose.

Switching infrastructure? (1)

Kirgin (983046) | more than 3 years ago | (#35752750)

What are they using for switching infrastructure? How are they handling incoming web load distribution?

GNU? (1)

adamdoyle (1665063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35753276)

gnu let us know about...

Are they referring to the actual GNU organization or just some random /. user with username "gnu?"

Mostly meanignless.... (2, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35753290)

Looking over the site, it's mostly warm fuzzies (look how green we are) and obvious (the system board specs are mostly bog standard reference designs). The chassis aren't particularly dense or make efficient use of the airflow, and no system vendor can ship implementations of this without running afoul of FCC regulations. There seems to be a lot of thought centered around a tech doing in-depth failure analysis of a failed board in person when even base boards come with IPMI implementations that allow all that to be done remotely. ROL is frankly a horribly dumb idea when you have IPMI capability in nearly every server board with acknowldgement and security. I know I'll get hit with people saying that IPMI costs extra, but the essentially free variants are sufficient to remove the RS232 connector and compete with 'ROL'. The free variants also tend to be flaky and sometimes need static arp tables, but so does WOL (in effect).

A rather direct dig at Google (2)

melted (227442) | more than 3 years ago | (#35753370)

Google perceives its datacenter know how as its major strength. This sort of removes a bit of that strength.

Go /. spin machine, go! (1)

TheScreenIsnt (939701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35753388)

I'm looking forward to hearing how this fits into MZ's world domination plans.

Re:Go /. spin machine, go! (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755734)

Easy, it reads less like a prescriptive howto and more of a blend between fluff about being green for the public and a requirements document for Tyan, SuperMicro, Asus, and any other board vendor that they might not have thought to explicitly include in their procurement process before. There isn't particularly much that is immediately actionable for datacenter builders.

Re:Go /. spin machine, go! (1)

TheScreenIsnt (939701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35757462)

So the motive (and I'm not arguing, just curious) is to try to get some cred with the open source crowd (with whom they probably know they have an PR problem) without actually giving anything useful away?

Re:Go /. spin machine, go! (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35763894)

I would have expected more in-depth techinical stuff (e.g. the expensive part of designing a system that facebook certainly outsourced) if it were a 'legitimate' open hardware project.

They may genuinely think they did something fancy though, I admit. Many customers don't go this in-depth on their requirements or mechanical designs, but they barely scratch the surface of the complexity of actually building any of the components. Of course, that's the case of most 'open hardware' involving complex things, you still are buying the stuff from a board vendor who has the physical capability of making the boards. The rest of the exercise is a dressed up homebrew capability of x86 systems from the inception of the PC before the word 'open' was cool.

The network? (1)

bsquizzato (413710) | more than 3 years ago | (#35753928)

So, nothing about the LAN / SAN?

Finally, no video system on a server (4, Insightful)

kriston (7886) | more than 3 years ago | (#35753940)

Finally, it's so refreshing to see a server system specification that does not call for a video system, does not have onboard video, and properly directs console output to a serial port.

I've been disgusted with all the VGA crash carts, PS/2 keyboards and mice in server rooms, and all those video processors eating up system memory on servers. Servers should not have video.

Think of all the carbon dioxide and excess energy consumed by all the idle on-board video processors on most x86 and x64 servers out there. I shudder to think of all the planets resources being wasted displaying a graphical user interface that nobody will ever see, and, worse, reserving precious memory that should be used to serve users holding a useless frame buffer.

Have you ever smirked at a Linux server machine that is still running X and six virtual consoles? This news is really exciting that someone is honestly taking server hardware design seriously, just like Sun, HP, DEC, SGI, IBM, and others did in the 1980s and 1990s before all these x86 servers came about.

Bravo, Facebook, on a job well done.

Re:Finally, no video system on a server (3, Interesting)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35754944)

Server video cards embedded on motherboard don't use the system ram, they have an embedded 8 to 128 MB memory chip. Sure, they have a tiny frame buffer in the system ram but there are other things using more system memory than that frame buffer.

As for power usage, such plain vga video card embedded on the motherboard uses a couple of watts on idle - the chip doesn't even need a heatsink so it's not really a power saving feature if you remove it.

You would be saving much more power by using a power supply with high efficiency and wattage close to the actual server usage, instead of using (optionally redundant) 500-800 watts server power supplies.

Seriously, complaining about a few watts... some 1U servers have at least 4 x 40 mm high speed fans inside, each using 2-5 watts of power (because they run at max speed all the time) and you're complaining about a couple of watts on a video card.

Re:Finally, no video system on a server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35761238)

2 watts x 90 servers in a triplet = 180 watts * 40 triplets I counted in one picture = 7200 watts * $0.1/kwh = $6300 per year in power = Difference in salary between a noob that needs vga and someone who can use a serial terminal.

Re:Finally, no video system on a server (0)

Junta (36770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755844)

They all take hardware design seriously, but if they put out a system without some sort of video, sadly, 98% of their customers won't buy it because they aren't confident in it.

MS users rarely ever know MS can be managed via serial and even those that do know there is a high chance some third-party software won't be manageable. Employers certainly know random tech off the street will need video on MS to get by.

Even amongst Linux users who likely would be using nothing more than a text interface, there are serious issues. For one, Linux implements *no* method for the system firmware to describe serial output. So you can't put in arbitrary linux boot media without first tweaking the kernel command line. There exists a specification for firmware to communicate this data, but it's considered IP of Microsoft and forbidden to Linux. One could argue for a sophisticated environment making their own boot infrastructure with standards baked in this wouldn't be much of an issue, but many places aren't that sophisticated and even those that are face different servers with different preferred ttyS and baudrates. If Linux implemented some sort of communication path and had some big hitters make it a requirement or if MS came out and said 'any OS is entitled to parse the serial settings', that could change things.

Finnaly, for some people, serial just has some unavoidable limitations. I agree that serial is the best and a good infrastructure will maintain a long running record of serial output that is far superior than crash cart use, but in the more lazy 'crash cart' scenario, video is better because the framebuffer can show the error or panic output that induced you to connect the crash cart whereas in serial, once the output is done it is gone forever if noone was paying attention.

Re:Finally, no video system on a server (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#35758818)

Even amongst Linux users who likely would be using nothing more than a text interface, there are serious issues. For one, Linux implements *no* method for the system firmware to describe serial output. So you can't put in arbitrary linux boot media without first tweaking the kernel command line. There exists a specification for firmware to communicate this data, but it's considered IP of Microsoft and forbidden to Linux.

Or Linux just defines its own method. Several BIOSes can redirect output to serial (there are serveral x86 boards include soekris ones that have no video), which is all you need to get to something like GRUB, at which point GRUB tells the kernel to use a serial console (well supported and used by practically all embedded LInux devices).

Yes you're not able to stick in any old Linux boot CD and have it work unless they have serial console support built in (rare - most immediately do a video mode switch and use a framebuffer console rather than plain text console), but if you've got a thousand servers like this, I'm sure the guy maintaining it can build his own boot CD with the requisite support.

Re:Finally, no video system on a server (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35763848)

But if you want your server vendor to be replaceable, suddenly you have another system where the port you need is now ttyS1 when you had been using ttyS0. Or the BMC can only do 57600 wheras you have been doing 115200.

In short, yes there are several firmwares than all this can work. It would be a *lot* better if the board designers had a way of automatically describing the serial console capabilities to the kernel so that serial console would work after the kernel tears down frimware handling of IO.

Re:Finally, no video system on a server (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35758800)

Now, if they just weren't in the business of collecting biographical information - frequently from very young children - and selling it to the highest bidder.
 

Re:Finally, no video system on a server (1)

Hobart (32767) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760634)

Have you ever smirked at a Linux server machine that is still running X and six virtual consoles?

Have you ever sat at a Sun SPARC server that has flubbed the console tty, and doesn't have other ones that you can switch to?

Re:Finally, no video system on a server (1)

kriston (7886) | more than 3 years ago | (#35761434)

I had not experienced that. As you know, a line break would go to the PROM monitor at which I just type "continue" or "go" and hit Enter a few times and we're all set. If I really somehow messed up the TTY, it's always recoverable, just turn off the TTY and turn it back on. Or maybe you just type CTRL-Q to release the paused output (which is likely what happened in your case).

In large installations I use a serial port concentrator. I sign into the concentrator and choose the system to log into. Alternatively, I assign a serial port to its own IP address. From there I have full control (all RS-232 signals plus system reset, system power, and some telemetry) from anywhere. No stupid graphical terminals. I could diagnose and resolve a problem logging in using a wireless PDA like a Blackberry, Palm, or PocketPC.

This was back in 1997.

What else can you do (1)

tokul (682258) | more than 3 years ago | (#35753962)

What else can you do to get technies into your data mining database? "We support open source, our datacenter is omg huge and lets forget all privacy issues".

FaceFacts FaceBook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35754458)

Interesting! Just how can you put together a data center and have YOUR SECURITY SUCK. I received TWO spams this week from my friends compromised accounts, even through it was a Victoria's Secret spam, it should have not come from my 13 y.o. nephew.

Hardware pfff (1)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35755360)

It is not the hardware I am concerned about, it is the software that's where evil is.

SlugFest...a real bummer (1)

killmofasta (460565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760118)

OK. Given 45 mins I can come up with at least 3 improvements.
Given a week? I could have at least made the case frame at least a pop-in-pop-out, no wires affair...

Give 1/10 of the time these loud mouths spent, I would have 4 up platters on bakery racks.

One easy hint! You are ordering at least 1000 motherboards, have the powersupply connector at a 90 degree angle so that it holds the powersupply connector to the side of the motherboard area, and holds the motherboard in. No screws. and for god sake... put some RAM in the machines.

Re:SlugFest...a real bummer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35771634)

Does anyone remember Jean Louis Gasse assembling a Mac IIcx from parts in seconds? Now that was a Snap in affair, as well as IBM servers have done this for decades,

http://www.vectronicsappleworld.com/macintosh/maciicx.php

Apple introduced the Macintosh IIcx on March 7, 1989

"At the IIcx's introduction, Jean-Louis Gassée, President of Apple Products, demonstrated the IIcx's modular design by assembling one from parts in front of the audience. This made the IIcx less expensive to build, easier to repair, and earned it heavy praise and a warm reception amongst the Mac community."

Apparently students at Stanford U are designing laptops: look up tool less assembly:

http://tightwadtechnica.com/?tag=toolless-assembly

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