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Facebook Open Source Hardware

Open Compute Project Driving Open-Source Hardware Development 29

The Open Compute Project was launched by Facebook early last year to facilitate collaborative development of highly-efficient computing infrastructure. They wanted to make datacenters cheaper and less energy-intensive to operate. Since then, many industry heavyweights have joined up, and the effects of the project are becoming evident in how companies buy hardware. "Instead of the traditional scenario in which the company’s buying decisions are determined by what the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) such as Dell, HP, and IBM are offering, open sourcing hardware give companies the ability to buy the exact hardware they want. Businesses are increasingly more curious about open source, and many of them are already deploying open source tools and the cloud, [Dell's Joseph George said]. They are increasingly looking at open source software as viable alternatives to commercial options. This level of exploration is moving to the infrastructure layer. 'Driving standards is what open source is about,' George added. With specifications at hand, it is possible to manufacture server and storage components that deliver consistent results regardless of who’s in charge of production.
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Open Compute Project Driving Open-Source Hardware Development

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  • Off the shelf components are dirt cheap, slap on Linux and run KVM and that VM can run with the specs you're looking for. The idea is cool, but I doubt the prices will get anywhere near what we are looking at now.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Even if the price is equivalent, the end result is 'outsourcing' decision making and deflecting responsibility when something goes wrong.

    • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @09:53PM (#40680941) Journal

      Off the shelf components are dirt cheap, slap on Linux

      True, off-the-shelf components are comparatively cheaper

      True, Linux, in principle, is free, as in Free Beer

      But that does not mean the combination of off-the-shelf components and Linux is the best there is

      Proprietary hardware / software combo may carry a very high price tag, but, when we are talking about enterprise level computing, or computing in the level of data-centers, there are times proprietary equipments make more sense than off-the-shelf components - in term of stability, performance, and/or energy efficiency

      I am all for open-source, but my own experience in the computing scene - especially in large-scale deployment - tells me that the best option there is might not be the cheapest option

      • You don't think Facebook is "enterprise level computing"?
      • But that does not mean the combination of off-the-shelf components and Linux is the best there is

        Especially if you pick the cheapest components you can find. And, of course, you need to customize your server installations properly. Installing your favorite distro from a LiveCD (designed for a worksttion not a server) and then tacking on whatever programs you really need is probably not the best way to go. Still, if you pick your components with care and optimize your installation for what you need, yo
    • I think this is going to happen, but it will start at the big companies first and reach low end consumer hardware later. From the OpenCompute project About page, [] "The result is that our Prineville data center uses 38 percent less energy to do the same work as Facebook’s existing facilities, while costing 24 percent less."

      Energy costs are a big concern at the major hosting, social networking, and search companies. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, Ebay, etc...
    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      TFS: "Businesses are increasingly more curious about open source"

      Citation needed; if only that were true. Yeah, Apache and Linux-based servers, but little to nothing else.

  • This might be off-topic but I would love to see as part of an open compute platform an open source video camera that does its recording in VP8. This would encourage more independent artists because there are no royalties and unlimited use is granted. While VP8 is still patented by Google, it's license is totally royalty free and non-restrictive.
    • The problem with making an opensource camera is actually the imaging sensor, the rest of the hardware is fairly trivial compared to that. Finding a well documented high resolution image sensor is hard at the best of times. Finding an affordable one is even harder.
    • Building "open source" cameras for more than 10 years I would say that the codecs designed fro video distribution may be not the best for the cameras, where you have to preserve as much as possible of the original sensor data while having reasonable compression. It does not need to be completely lossless (as for editing) - the sensor (and just the physical world itself) has some noises, the the compression errors should be just below that. For the video distribution the task is different - reduce bandwidth
  • Datacentres currently are estimated at consuming between 1.1% and 1.5% of the total power generated across the world. That's bigger than almost every other industry out there, heck that's bigger than quite a few medium-sized countries. With this sort of size then even a small percentage gain in efficiency makes a huge difference to costs. A modern datacentre has a yearly power bill of $10million or more, and so if you can find a way of doing the same processing using 2% less power - well those numbers sudde

  • What is the scope of this Open Compute Project - how deep does it go? Is it starting from the very basic microprocessor level - say something like OpenRISC - and growing from there? Or is it somewhat higher level - like taking the reference platforms provided by the likes of Intel, AMD, NVIDIA and others and building from there? Is this an Open Sourced project so that in case any current manufacturers go under, getting custom made computers w/ almost identical specs will be do-able? In other words, is
  • i looked in on this project to help earlier this year and found that it's 100% bullshit.

    1) the Open Compute Project claims to want energy efficiency but they are using AMD Operon and Intel XEON chips (so inefficient!) instead of something power efficient like ARM chips. why? in case you didnt see, the project is COMPLETELY run by big businesses that have proprietary bullshit that they want to run.

    2) they also claim to be making low cost machines. those chips cost >$500 each which is waaaaaay more than

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