back to article Intel gives Facebook the D – Xeons thrust web pages at the masses

Facebook is using Intel's Xeon D processors to build stacks of web servers for the 1.39 billion people who visit the social network every month. The OpenRack server design is codenamed Yosemite, is pictured above, and is available for anyone to use under the OpenCompute project. The hardware "dramatically increases speed and …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Errr - cooling?

    "Each processor consumes up to 65W, 90W for the whole server card, and 400W (TDP) for a full sled. A single rack can hold 48 sleds,"

    That is a 20kW rack. Easy enough to assemble such a thing just using conventional blades but not that easy to keep the thermal issues under control. Last time I was involved in such a thing it required water or CO2 active rack cooling (TROX and KoolTherm are the names I recall) and it wasn't rated a success since the infrastructure required to support the cooling offset any space saving from the rack density - and that's before you factor in the extra facilities maintenance complexity and catastrophic consequences

    of a coolant leak (insert Star Trek quote of choice)

    Five or six years ago mind. Has there been some quiet revolution in this area recently? (and no, I don't count cold aisle containment).

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Errr - cooling?

      Yeah, that's up to 400W a sled.


    2. Nate Amsden

      Re: Errr - cooling?

      Looking at a news report from MS's server designs they released April 25 2011, talks about 57U racks with up to 96 servers consuming 16kW of power in their shipping containers (IT PAC as they were called, not sure if they are still called that). Able to operate in 95 degree ambient temperature(inlet temperature - they can use water to cool outside air as high as 105 degrees down to 95 degrees at the time anyway - the servers themselves are air cooled though). Of course that was five years ago, cooling techniques have only improved since.

      So yeah hot/cold containment is what it's all about still, assuming your gear can operate safely at those temperatures..

      SuperNAP near Vegas, looking at an article about them again from 2011

      "The over 31,000 cabinets inside the SuperNAP range anywhere from a few kW and can go as high as 30kW."

      They have some pretty crazy patented containment stuff though. Inlet temps at Supernap according to that article(July 2011) range from 68-72 degrees.

      While such high density sounds cool I suspect in most cases it doesn't make much sense outside of highly specialized facilities. I have a picture in my mind of a dense rack I saw about 10 years ago, at the time probably 8kW, in the middle of a cage, with about 200 square feet of dead space around it because the facility couldn't support the true density of that system.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Errr - cooling?

        Companies like Facebook that are interested in ultra dense racks like this can custom design the whole datacenter around such cooling requirements. You may not be able to do it after the fact with air cooling, but if you design it from the start with that, and abandon the idea that it has to be comfortable for a person to walk around in*

        *They can do that, because they let servers fail in place rather than replacing them, and can take a whole facility offline for extended planned maintenance if/when necessary.

        1. Lysenko

          Re: Errr - cooling?

          @Nate, Doug

          Ah, I see. I have never gotten near anything so esoteric. DC's for big financial and insurance institutions was where I was operating and while they had (what they considered) huge network load requirements, the issue was latency between the high speed transaction processor engines and the trading hub, not concurrent independent process loading. That also meant that the concept of flicking over to a backup DC under any circumstances was a category 1 catastrophe. Lose even a few ms. in the trading systems and it could (apparently) cost millions, scheduled or not. As a result there were a dozen engineers about the place 24/7 so creating a wetware hostile environment in the room itself was out of the question.

  2. kkrewell

    When is a SoC not a SoC? When it's a Xeon D-1500

    Intel server SoC is not a real SoC (system on chip).

    This definition from Wikipedia is pretty good: "A system on a chip or system on chip (SoC or SOC) is an integrated circuit (IC) that integrates all components of a computer or other electronic system into a single chip." And a chip is one, monolithic die. It's pretty clear from Intel's own materials that the Xeon D-1500 is actually a system in package (SIP). The I/O Hub is a separate die from the Xeon processor die.

    I don't think it's a good precedent to allow Intel to redefine a standard and well known industry term for their own expedient needs. Intel is obviously feeling the pressure from the ARM SoC (real SoCs) vendors like and is trying to catch up by building a single package server processor that emulates an SoC. Intel is trying to mislead analysts, customers, and reporters, and I find that a poor choice by the company.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: When is a SoC not a SoC? When it's a Xeon D-1500

      Fair points. But, and playing devil's advocate here, what's the difference, really? Whether it's discrete, SiP or SoC, it still looks the same to software, even low-level code.

      I meant to put in the article (and TPM on our sister site The Platform mentions it) that it's not truly a SoC (like a bunch of ARM cores with an LCD controller and USB and power management glued alongside in a single package) but I forgot, probably because it's not that important.

      I just don't think it really matters, personally, but I'll add a tweak to this story anyway. I just worry this affair has a whiff of holy war about it.


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