Tech giant Google announced today that it will be joining the Open Compute Project (OCP) with the contribution of a new design to bring 48V power distribution to rack computing. The company said its contribution will include a new rack specification and a new form factor that will allow OCP racks to fit in its data centers.
OCP, a five-year-old industry collaboration headed by Facebook, seeks to help drive standardization in IT infrastructure through the use of open source designs and components. The group consists of an established collection of consumers and solution providers in the information technology sector. The project’s annual summit is taking place this week in San Jose, Calif.
30 Percent More Energy Efficient
The design is part of the Google's long-standing efforts to improve energy efficiency inside its data centers, said John Zipfel, technical program manager for Google. “We began advocating for efficient power supplies in 2003, and in 2006 shared details of our 12-volt architecture for racks inside our data centers -- the infrastructure that supports and powers rows upon rows of our servers,” he said today in a statement.
Google’s 48V design is at least 30 percent more energy efficient than its current 12-volt architecture that it uses for the racks inside its data centers, the company said. That increased efficiency could translate into major cost savings. Google began evaluating alternatives to the 12V design in 2009 as a way to boost efficiency and performance for high-end computing products such as high-power CPUs and GPUs. Google first began producing the 48V design in 2010.
Since then, it has evolved considerably, and now 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,” Zipfel said.
Next Generation Power Architecture
Google’s decision to join OCP and contribute its design isn’t unprecedented. It released the designs for its 12V architecture in 2006. Since many companies in the tech industry are working on similar problems stemming from higher-power workloads such as GPUs for machine learning, Google said it made sense to standardize the new design by working with OCP.
“We believe this will help everyone adopt this next generation power architecture, and realize the same power efficiency and cost benefits as Google,” Zipfel said. The company will be collaborating with Facebook on a common 48V rack design.
Zipfel said today’s announcement is only a first step for the company, which is looking at other possible areas of collaboration with OCP. Among the projects Google could contribute to in the future is developing better disk solutions for cloud-based applications, and standardizing server and networking management systems.
A number of other companies, including Microsoft, Arista, Broadcom, Dell, and Mellanox, also announced that they will be contributing networking components to the project.
Image Credit: Google. Pictured: Google Data center in Douglas County, Georgia.