The explosive growth of Facebook to more than 500 million users has made the social networking company one of the largest purchasers of server hardware, with at least 60,000 servers living in its data centers. Facebook VP of Technical Operations Jonathan Heiliger has sometimes been critical of server vendors’ ability to adapt their products to the needs of huge infrastructures like those at Facebook. In a conference earlier this year, Heiliger identified multi-core server vendors Tilera and SeaMicro as “companies to watch.”
So when a rumor surfaced yesterday that Facebook might shift to low-power ARM chips for all the servers in its huge new data center in Oregon, it was interpreted by some as plausible – and perhaps marking a key moment in the emergence of low-power server technology. ARM processors are widely used in smart phones.
“If Facebook’s experiment pans out, it may change how things are done in the data center, and collapse prices,” wrote Charlie Demerjian at hardware site Semi-Accurate, which reported the rumor. “Things have changed in the data center, you just haven’t seen the results yet.”
Except for one small detail. “This story is completely false,” Heiliger wrote in the comments. “Facebook continuously evaluates and helps develop new technologies we believe will improve the performance, efficiency or reliability of our infrastructure. However, we have no plans to deploy ARM servers in our Prineville, Oregon data center.”
Heiliger’s debunking of the rumor was first noted by Brian Caulfield at Forbes’ Velocity column.