After years of secrecy, Google revealed the inner workings of its ultra-energy efficient data centers at yesterday's Data Center Efficiency Summit.
Each of Google's servers comes with its own 12-volt lead-acid battery as a back-up to the main power supply, and all of its data centers are made up of standard shipping containers. Individual centers each contain 1,160 servers and consume up to 250 kilowatts of power.
While most data centers use massive centralized machines called uninterruptable power supplies (UPS) as a back-up in case of power failure, Google's server-mounted back-up UPS batteries have proven to be much more efficient—so much so that Google has reached efficiency levels that the EPA doesn't picture as being practical until 2011.
Google's data center design, described by company server guru Ben Jai as "our Manhattan Project," has been in use since 2005 and is currently in its sixth or seventh incarnation. The design is 99.9% energy efficient, compared to standard UPS set-ups which are 95% efficient at best.
So why did Google wait until now to reveal its data center design? Probably lack of interest. Efficiency has only recently become a concern to cash-strapped organizations. Now that Google has unveiled its advanced techniques for reducing data center costs, other companies can catch up—if they're willing to license Google's patented UPS design.
Related: The Fast Company 50 - #2 Google