Facebook Launches Live Data Center Efficiency Dashboard

facebook prineville data center dashboad
Screen capture. Facebook

Facebook/Screen capture

The largest tech companies including Apple, Facebook, Google, Yahoo and eBay, have all taken big steps in the past few years in improving the efficiency of their data centers. Apple and Facebook have both constructed data centers that will be largely powered by renewable energy, but there is still plenty of room for improvement, and more so, there is always room for more transparency of how much energy is being used and where it's coming from. So that's why it was a nice surprise to hear that Facebook is now providing near real-time statistics on the efficiency of its North Carolina and Oregon data centers.

The dashboard pages for the data centers show live PUE (power usage effectiveness) and WUE (water usage effectiveness) numbers as well as outdoor temperature and humidity. PUE is a measurement of how much energy going into the data center is used for IT machinery instead of other power loads like heating, cooling, and other facility management. The lower the PUE number, the more energy-efficient the data center, with 1.0 being a perfect PUE and 1.5 to 2.0 being typical for data centers.

The data updates every minute, with a 2.5-hour delay. You can view current stats and minute-by-minute results over the past 24 hours or look at average performance over the past week, month, quarter or year.

The Prineville, Oregon facility has a trailing 3-month average PUE of 1.06, while the Forest City, North Carolina facility has achieved a 1.10 average -- both are excellent, but also, both of these data centers were built to achieve maximum energy efficiency. Both facilities use open-air cooling instead of pumped water cooling, which despite the major difference in climate between the two places, has proven equally effective at keeping energy use down without compromising equipment performance.

Facebook is currently building a massive data center in Lulea, Sweden that will handle all internet traffic from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. That data center will run on renewable sources (mostly hydro), and because it will be located so close to the Arctic circle (about 100 kilometers south of it), the cooling requirements will be taken care of by the cold climate. When that data center begins operating, Facebook will have a live dashboard for its performance too.