Facebook has been building a new data center of its own in Prineville, Oregon. The facility is being touted as the ‘Sub-Zero’ building, though that is not the official name. Now, the vice president of operations at Facebook, Tom Furlong, has revealed that Facebook will be making use of new, unique low-power methods for the data backups which will be stored in the Sub-Zero building.
The name, Sub-Zero, in itself is significant. Facebook claims that it is trying to bring down power consumption of the equipment in the facility to significantly low levels. To accomplish this, Facebook is trying to design a hard-disk storage server which will automatically shut down when not in use – this way, it wouldn’t have to consume power unnecessarily.
According to Furlong, “It’s going to sit in a dedicated building that is optimized to support this device that we don’t need to access very often.” The chief use of this Sub-Zero facility would be to achieve large-scale deep archiving of the data.
The social network normally saves two copies of its entire data. One copy is readily available whenever there’s a problem with the live server while the other copy is used only for emergency use, and thus has to be rarely used. Referring to these two copies, Furlong states, “You have one that is pretty readily accessible, and you have one that does not need to be accessed except in the event of a true restore.”
It’s this other copy of the data, the one that will be needed in an emergency, that will be housed in the Sub-Zero building. Since there will rarely be a need to boot data from this copy, the new server is designed to automatically shut off when not in use. Facebook claims that its goal is to drop the power consumption of its servers from the standard 4.5 Kilowatts to 1.5 Kilowatts in the Sub-Zero building.