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Facebook VP Slams Intel, AMD Server Chips

During an interview with GigaOm founder Om Malik at GigaOm's Structure '09 conference, Facebook VP of Technical Operations Jonathan Heiliger was asked about unexpected problems the company had experienced while trying to keep up with Facebook's growing population.

"The biggest thing (that) surprised us is ... less-than-anticipated performance gains from new micro-architectures -- so, new CPUs from guys like Intel and AMD. The performance gains they're touting in the press, we're not seeing in our applications," Heiliger told Malik. "And we're, literally in real time right now, trying to figure out why that is."

Heliger went on to declare that OEMs just "don't get it."

"You guys don't get it. To build servers for companies like Facebook, and Amazon, and other people who are operating fairly homogeneous applications, the servers have to be cheap, and they have to be super power-efficient," said Heiliger. "And that doesn’t just mean putting in a really highly efficient power supply. It means going all the way down, basically starting at the wall outlet, all the way to the processor and figuring out how to optimize that power path,” he continued. "Google has done a great job designing and building its own servers for this kind of use."

Check out the full video of the interview here.

  • jhansonxi
    Maybe Google should get into the server business. I could see their name on the side of shipping containers full of super-efficient servers.
    Reply
  • Hanin33
    that's the price these guys pay for trying to use comoddity parts in place of mainframes and true iron... do they really expect large scale energy efficiency with a surplus of computational power from a system that could easily be bought by a consumer? who's really the deluded one here?
    Reply
  • mcnuggetofdeath
    Facebook has had issues with outages since before Nehalem launched. The guy is just trying to cover his own ass, and thats not cool. They shouldve dumped more money into infrastructure, rather than redesigning something that already works or lining your own pockets with the craploads of ad revenue they generate. And to use someone elses assesment of how a processor performs within a given situation, and expect it to scale indefinitely is a sign of his incompetency. I hope he gets fired.
    Reply
  • curnel_D
    "lining your own pockets with the craploads of ad revenue they generate"

    I could have sworn that's what they're in the buisness to do.

    Facebook doesnt owe us anything.
    Reply
  • paranoidmage
    I think an executive like him should know better than anyone that AMD and Intel are trying to sell a product and only showing benchmarks that make them look good. Not only that, but they are only benchmarks and not true indicators of performance. If he is truly as stupid as he makes himself out to be, Facebook should think about replacing him.

    "The performance gains they're touting in the press, we're not seeing in our applications"

    Maybe he should try optimizing his applications for the microarcitecture instead of expecting the microarchitecture be designed to fit his needs perfectly.
    Reply
  • ph3412b07
    has anybody tried overclocking a blade server?..... lol
    Reply
  • caqde
    Maybe he should try optimizing his applications for the microarcitecture instead of expecting the microarchitecture be designed to fit his needs perfectly.

    Yeah that would likely be the issue. Todays server processors have many cores, if you want your server application to get a speed boost it is time you talk to your engineers working on facebook to start optimizing facebook for many processors. Of course they need to make sure any API's and server software they use is multi-core friendly too. Maybe they can start laying the blame somewhere else.
    Reply
  • Gutbop
    The guy talks about how AMD and Intel processors aren't giving him the performance he wants, but then talks about how Google designs and builds servers that are efficient??

    Did I miss something? Google doesn't build their own processors. They still use Intel or AMD (or IBM) processors. They just design and put together the server.

    Maybe what he really means to complain about is that his people don't design their servers well enough, and he wants Google's people to design his servers instead.
    Reply
  • P_haze420
    Facebook is way worse then myspace.
    Reply
  • Lans
    Maybe they should make their own CPUs for their
    fairly homogeneous applications
    like
    “Google has done a great job designing and building its own servers for this kind of use”
    .

    Reply