Elements of Google's most secretive product--its unique PC server design--is beginning to ripple throughout the rest of the industry. Like many companies with giant Internet data centers, Google uses big clusters of commodity x86 servers. But unlike its competitors such as Yahoo and Microsoft, it has created a motherboard design tailored for big data centers.
Google has not disclosed details of its motherboard design, but it did release a white paper calling for designs built on 12V-only power supplies. Besides such supplies, Google's design is said to use at least two full servers per board and remove many of the unneeded parts found in many mainstream server motherboards in an effort to shave cost, reduce power consumption and increase reliability. Google has designed and procured the boards solely for its own use to date. But now companies such as Rackable Systems Inc. (Fremont, Calif.) and others say they expect to be shipping similar boards soon.