Google has joined Facebook’s Open Compute Project and proposed a new design for server racks that could help cloud data centers cut their energy bills.
The OCP was started by Facebook six years ago as a way for end-user companies to get together and design their own data center equipment, free of the unneeded features that drive up costs for traditional vendor products.
Other big cloud providers such as Microsoft jumped on board, but Google, which is known for operating some of the world’s most advanced data centers, stayed away. On Wednesday, at the OCP Summit in Silicon Valley, it said it has now joined.
Google’s first contribution will be a new rack design that distributes power to servers at 48 volts, compared with the 12 volts that’s common in most data centers. The increase will help to accommodate more powerful computing equipment. Google says the new design is more efficient than its old 12-volt system because it reduces electrical conversion losses by 30 percent.
“As the industry’s working to solve these same problems and dealing with higher-power workloads, such as GPUs for machine learning, it makes sense to standardize this new design by working with OCP,” Google technical program manager John Zipfel writes in today’s announcement. “We believe this will help everyone adopt this next generation power architecture, and realize the same power efficiency and cost benefits as Google.”
It’s not clear why Google chose to join the OCP now, though if it wants the industry to rally behind a new power standard, the OCP is a good place to propagate it.
Google’s membership makes Amazon the last of the four big hyperscale cloud providers that’s not part of the OCP. Even Apple, which is known for being highly secretive, said it had joined the group last year.