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How Google Is Influencing Server Design

As the need for fast, large-scale computing to power sites like Facebook or even computing clouds has grown, manufacturers such as Rackable Systems (s RACK) are taking notes on server design from Google (s GOOG), which builds its own systems. The goal of their mimicry is to provide more computing power in a smaller form factor while using less energy.

An article in EEtimes today details the emergence of these Google-inspired servers, which include features such as heat-tolerant processors to save on cooling costs, a focus on motherboards containing 12v-only power supplies for servers, putting two servers on one board and stripping out unnecessary parts.

These are all ways Google apparently modifies its boxes to deliver information faster and more cheaply. Rackable’s new CloudRack servers will offer dual servers on one board that crams more computing power into a smaller space, as well as 12V-only motherboards. The use of only 12 volts on a motherboard is supposed to make the power supplies more efficient by reducing the energy lost when having to convert electrical current to run at various different voltage levels.

IBM’s (s IBM) iDataPlex servers, designed for the cloud, have stripped away unnecessary hardware — a move aimed at reducing power-consuming components and saving space. Heat-tolerant processors allow a data center operator to keep air conditioning bills down, saving as much as 4 percent of total energy costs for each degree dropped. So as computing requires more scale, Google’s innovations influence other buyers and sellers of technology even as the search giant slows its own data center construction.

11 Responses to “How Google Is Influencing Server Design”

  1. Michael Marrs

    Sadly these lessons are lost and foreign in telco land, no matter how much lip service the VP’s give to being nimble, smart and cutting out the crap. The telco engineering priesthood still requires everything to be 5 nines, and to add as much features as possible to keep the project going for another 2 years in order to keep the product dev, marketing, project management, and engineers securely imployed.

  2. The KISS principle in action: Keep It Simple, Stupid. This also utilizes the first principle of good engineering: before you start designing things, examine your unspoken assumptions and consider which of them can be modified to good effect. We shouldn’t be surprised at something like this coming out of Google, however; their Chairman and CEO has a Ph.D. in computer science from Berkeley (earned after he received a degree in electrical engineering and computer science at Princeton), has been Chief Technical Officer at Sun, and is himself a gifted engineer and computer scientist. Larry and Sergei may have developed the first search engine while at Stanford, but Eric is every bit as bright as they are — and almost everything about Google reflects that fact.

  3. Typical of the tech industry to have a huge fit of ‘me-too’ once they have seen a leader do something. The linked story has a quote which is quite important, toward the end where it is said while the idea is great, it is not work for every scenario, since there are valid requirements where different voltages are required on a board.