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Facebook Built a Prototype Storage System Using 10,000 Blu-ray Discs

by Maximum PC | February 1, 2014February 1, 2014 6:00 am PST


An energy efficient storage system for infrequently accessed data

It’s a bit early to write the obituary for optical discs. Though many desktop users have made the transition to the cloud,Facebook found a use for Blu-ray discs — 10,000 of them, in fact — as part of an energy efficient storage system capable of holding a petabyte of data. Facebook showed the prototype system at the Open Compute Project summit meeting in San Jose, California, noting that it’s intended to store data that rarely needs to be accessed.

Candidates for Facebook’s “cold storage” solution include duplicates of photos and videos that Facebook keeps on hand for backup purposes, IDG News Service reports. Facebook says its prototype system cuts storage costs in half and reduces energy use by a whopping 80 percent, compared to its current cold storage system based on hard disk drives (HDDs).

Over time, Facebook expects to increase storage by a factor of five. It’s a cost effective roadmap, since Blu-ray discs costs less than hard drives, plus there’s room for manufactures to increase the density of Blu-ray media.

“We see this as a new area of demand for the technology,” said Jason Taylor, Facebook’s director of infrastructure.

The prototype storage system consists of an ordinary looking cabinet with stacks of Blu-ray discs inside. A robotic picker plucks a disc from a pile and moves it to one of the 16 Blu-ray burners so that data can be written to it.

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Covering everything from hi-end gaming PCs to tablets, peripherals and home theater rigs, Maximum PC's print and Web editions stay one step ahead of...