Friday, April 8, 2011

Facebook now wants a say in computer hardware

Facebook, the world's largest social network, wants to get in on computer hardware as well.

The company that revolutionized social networking on the Internet has teamed up with some of tech hardware's biggest names -- Hewlett Packard Co, Dell Inc, Advanced Micro Devices, and Intel Corp -- to launch the "open compute project."

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the project aims to offer specifications and designs for more power-efficient computers that are specifically geared toward running Internet services, shared openly with other companies.

"What we found over time is that a lot of the stuff that the mass manufacturers put out wasn't exactly in line with what we needed and what other social apps needed," Zuckerberg said at a media event at Facebook's Palo Alto, California headquarters on Thursday.

By sharing design specifications, he said he hoped to increase availability and demand for the specialized servers.

Dell will build servers based on those technical specifications, while Synnex Corp will act as overall vendor for the systems. The technology will power servers in the social network's first custom-built data center, in Prineville, Oregon. Until now, Facebook has leased data centers for its infrastructure.

With more than 500 million users, Facebook is the world's No. 1 Internet social network and is increasingly challenging established Web companies like Google Inc and Yahoo Inc as a top destination for Web surfers and a compelling advertising channel for marketers.

The technical infrastructure that powers websites such as Facebook, on which more than 30 billion photos, videos and other types of content are shared by users every month, play a key role in a service's performance.

According to Facebook, the new servers will be 38 percent more energy efficient and cost 24 percent less than off-the-shelf products used to power its service.


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