Friday, April 3, 2009

Google's Server Power Supplies

This past Wednesday, Google finally provided a peek into their data centers. Green Data Center blog has a great roundoup of various articles related to this workshop, including pictures from Google's container data centers.

One of the more interesting aspects revealed Wednesday was the fact that Google has batteries attached to each of their servers.

At first, this seems rather odd. Google's explanation for this is that they use this arrangement as a 99.9% efficient replacement for UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) systems. Wow...99.9% efficient!

This is definitely a different approach from what most data centers do today, and it seems really far out there--until you break it down in its component parts. A simplified block diagram looks like the following:
Broken down this way, the arrangement really starts to look like a laptop. The Google server power system apparently operates just like a laptop:
  • External power supply provides ~12Vdc
  • Battery is included with every computer
  • When the external power supply fails, the battery provides power until the generator starts or power is switched to a different source

Graceful shutdown in power outages may or may not be an issue for Google's applications (likely not an issue).

Google certainly thinks they've got a winner with this approach, and goodness knows they've had experience deploying this at scale. In a future posting, I'll look at some of the pro's and con's of this approach.

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