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Google joins Open Compute Project with 48V rack design

15 Mar 2016

Google has joined Facebook’s Open Compute Project and will contribute a new rack specification to enable OCP racks to fit into its data centers.

The new rack specification also includes 48V power distribution.

The announcement from Google marks the company’s first involvement with the OCP, which was started by Facebook five years ago and aims to drive standardisation in IT infrastructure for the data center through open source hardware.

The project also includes other major players such as Microsoft and Apple.

Google says it sees an opportunity to contribute on the Open Rack specification to bring 48V architecture to racks.

Efficient power supplies is a topic close to Google’s heart, with the company sharing details of its 12-volt architecture for racks inside its data centers back in 2006.

John Zipfel, Google technical program manager, says the company kicked off the development of 48V rack power distribution in 2010 as it found it was at least 30% more energy efficient and more cost effective in supporting higher-performance systems, such as high power CPUS and GPUs.

Zipfel says Google’s 48V architecture 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,” he says.

“As the industry’s working to solve these same problems and dealing with higher power workloads, such as GPUs for machine learning, it makes sense to standardise this new design by working with OCP. We believe this will help everyone adopt this next generation power architecture and realise the same power efficiency and cost benefits as Google.”

He says the company is collaborating with Facebook on a common 48V rack that it intends to submit for consideration by OCP.

Zipfel says there are also other areas of possible collaboration for Google with the OCP, with Google recently engaging the industry to identify better disk solutions for cloud-based applications.

“We think that we can work with OCP to go even further, looking up the software stack to standardise server and networking management systems,” he says.

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