Let’s peek into Facebook’s Blu-ray archival library
Inside Facebook’s Blu-Ray Cold Storage Data Center- Facebook's Blu-Ray Cold Storage Data Center is a facility designed specifically to store rarely accessed data using Blu-Ray optical disc technology
The data center consists of several large rooms with racks of Blu-Ray discs. Each disc has a capacity of 100GB, and they are organized into cartridges that can hold up to 12 discs each. The cartridges are stored in shelves that can hold up to 10,000 cartridges, and the entire facility can store up to 1 petabyte of data.
The facility is designed to be highly energy-efficient, using outside air to cool the servers and discs, and taking advantage of Oregon's cool climate to minimize the need for air conditioning. In addition, the Blu-Ray discs are designed to last for decades, making them an ideal storage medium for rarely accessed data that needs to be preserved for a long time.
Accessing data stored in the Blu-Ray Cold Storage Data Center can take longer than accessing data stored on traditional hard drives or solid-state drives, as the discs need to be physically located and retrieved. However, the cost savings associated with using Blu-Ray technology for long-term storage make it an attractive option for companies like Facebook that need to store massive amounts of data but don't need immediate access to all of it.
Facebook’s cold storage system- Two billion photos are shared daily on Facebook services. Many of these photos are important memories for the people on Facebook and it's our challenge to ensure we can preserve those memories as long as people want us to in a way that's as sustainable and efficient as possible. As the number of photos continued to grow each month, we saw an opportunity to achieve significant efficiencies in how we store and serve this content and decided to run with it.
The result was a new storage-based data center built literally from the ground up, with servers that power on as needed, managed by intelligent software that constantly verifies and rebalances data to optimize durability. Two of these cold storage facilities have opened within the past year, as part of our data centers in Prineville, Oregon, and Forest City, North Carolina.
How Design Tweaks Drive Big Savings- In the cold storage design, air enters the facility through louvers on the side of the building. The cooling is handled by a series of air handlers along the exterior wall, which consolidates the multi-step cooling and filtering into a single piece of equipment.
Why Facebook thinks Blu-ray discs are perfect for the data center- Facebook's hardware guru thinks Blu-ray discs might have a brighter future in the data center than in consumers' homes.
Panasonic to commercialize Facebook's Blu-ray cold storage systems- Facebook has said Blu-ray can cut costs significantly for long-term data storage.
A couple of years ago, Facebook revealed it was using Blu-ray disks as a cost-efficient way to archive the billions of images that users uploaded to its service. Now, Panasonic has said it plans to commercialize the technology for other businesses and is working on new disks that will hold a terabyte of data.
Panasonic is calling its product line "freeze-ray," because it's used for a type of storage known as cold storage, where large amounts of data need to be stored for long periods of time and are rarely accessed.
When Facebook users upload photos, they're often viewed frequently in the first week, so Facebook stores them on solid-state drives or spinning hard disks. But as time goes on the images get viewed less and less. At a certain point, Facebook dumps them onto high-capacity Blu-ray discs, where they might sit for years without being looked at.
Blu-ray discs were at risk of dying out as streaming services like Netflix took over, but the interest from Facebook and other vendors has kept the technology alive and is now driving down costs. Facebook has said its Blu-ray system is 50 percent cheaper than using hard disk drives for cold storage, and 80 percent more energy efficient.
Facebook's first generation of systems used 100GB disks. Later this year it expects to deploy 300GB disks, Panasonic said, and the companies are working on 500GB and 1TB disks. Hundreds or even thousands of disks can go in a single system, giving petabytes of archival storage.
Facebook Creates 1 Petabyte Storage Rack- Facebook has developed a storage system that packs 1 petabyte of data into a single cabinet filled with 10,000 Blu-Ray optical discs. The company sees potential for Blu-Ray to lower the cost of cold data storage.
Facebook hopes to put the Blu-Ray storage unit into production by the end of this year, providing "ultra-cold" storage for older photos. The company showed off its prototype this week at the Open Compute Summit. But it's not just a novelty. Over the long term, Facebook believes Blu-Ray has the potential to move beyond its origins in consumer video and became a durable, cost-effective data storage medium.
Blu-Ray is not ideal for primary storage because data can't be retrieved instantly. But it has other selling points, especially cost. Using Blu-Ray disks offers savings of up to 50 percent compared with the hard disks Facebook is using in its newly-completed cold storage facility at its data center in Oregon. The Facebook prototype also uses 80 percent less energy than cold storage racks, since the Blu-Ray cabinet only uses energy when it is writing data during the initial date "burn," and doesn't use energy when it is idle.
Robotic Retrieval System- In less than six months, the Facebook team built a prototype using Panasonic discs and a robotic retrieval system similar to those used to retrieve the tape from archived storage units. The end result was a seven-foot cabinet that's compatible with the Open Rack standard. The rack includes 24 magazines, which each house 36 sealed cartridges, each of which contains 12 Blu-Ray discs. When a disc is needed, the robotics system retrieves the magazine. See this video from the Facebook Engineering team for a demonstration.
Each disc is certified to retain data for 50 years. The system can operate in a wide range of environmental conditions.