Facebook nixes virtualization, eyes Intel microservers

15.03.2011
Facebook is bucking the trend toward server virtualization and is interested in microservers for inexpensive growth and quick failover, the company's lab director said Tuesday.

The social networking giant came out in support of Intel's plans for an expanded lineup of processors for microservers, as Gio Coglitore, director of Facebook labs, spoke at an Intel press briefing in San Francisco. At the event, Intel said it would introduce four new chips for microservers this year and in 2012, ranging from a 45-watt Xeon to an Atom-based processor with less than 10 watts of power consumption. All will have server-class features, such as 64-bit compatibility and ECC (Error-Correcting Code) memory.

Facebook has tested microservers in production and is interested in the architecture for its massive data centers, Coglitore said. The inclusion of those server features is key for the company to be able to use microservers, he said.

Microservers, a concept that Intel introduced in 2009, are small, low-power, one-processor servers that can be packed into a data center more densely than rack or blade servers. The microservers in a rack typically share power and cooling and may also share storage and network connections, said Boyd Davis, vice president of the Intel Architecture Group and general manager of data center group marketing.

Manufacturers including Dell, Seamicro and Tyan have adopted the architecture, which has been most popular among large cloud service providers for large-scale, low-end hosting and Web serving, according to Intel. The company expects microservers to remain about 10 percent of its server processor market.

Front-end Web servers are where Facebook is nearly ready to start using microservers, according to Coglitore. "With Intel's announcement, it's just about to happen," he said. Facebook will probably start implementing microservers on a large scale beginning late this year or early next year.