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Google: Hotter Than You Think

It's always fascinating to watch companies going through the process of becoming behemoths, a path that is usually accompanied by a transition from openness ("Here's our new initiative--will you be writing about that?") to a far more secretive outlook ("Sorry, we can't talk about that thing we were talking a lot about last year").
Google is certainly no exception. The company has become more and more inscrutable about its workings, and as this look at its strategic plans indicates, that includes its server deployment. For a company whose chief physical asset is a server farm, that's no light thing. Part of the Google rags-to-riches story is its canny deployment of commodity x86 servers to drive that amazing search algorithm. Problem is, those suckers are hot, and although company engineers have gone a long way in the development of custom cooling technology, they also caution that power costs may become a real burden on the Google data center infrastructure.

So that huge sound you just heard right now is the massed voices of thousands of server administrators all over the country yelling, "Welcome to the club!" EVERY company that's upped its server deployment is fencing with power costs from their cooling needs. As many of the larger ones are finding, that may drive a move to more efficient chips like the Sun UltraSPARC for Google's next generation of servers. So we can probably say goodbye to the increasingly ragged myth of "growing young successful company doing it all on off-the-shelf boxes." Google is one of the big boys now, and if its power needs are getting more expensive, well, they don't call 'em growing pains for nothing.