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Facebook to give UCSB $1.5M to study data centers

By   /   Thursday, February 4th, 2021  /   Comments Off on Facebook to give UCSB $1.5M to study data centers

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Facebook will give $1.5 million to UC Santa Barbara’s Institute for Energy Efficiency to fund research into energy-efficient data centers and artificial intelligence, UCSB announced Feb. 4.

The institute will use the three-year grant to “investigate advanced energy-efficient data center infrastructure, including low-power optical interconnects for computer networks and machine learning with reduced carbon footprint,” according to a UCSB news release.

“A gift of this scale is very rare and definitely transformative,” William Wang, UCSB’s Mellichamp Chair of Artificial Intelligence and Designs, said in the release. “Last summer, we collaborated with the Facebook AI Group to build an inference engine for Natural Language Processing that achieved ten times more energy efficiency than the current model. It further demonstrates the importance and potential impact of working with industrial partners to understand real-world problems and connect scientific research and engineering.”

Facebook has a clear interest in more efficient data centers. The company has eight data centers in operation in the United States and five more that have been announced but have not opened yet. It has been using 100% renewable energy since 2018 and has pledged to reach zero net emissions by 2030.

In addition to the funding, Facebook will provide researchers with data and input based on the company’s experiences designing and operating data centers. The institute plans to name one of the experimental data center laboratories in its new building, Henley Hall, the “Facebook Data Center Energy Efficiency Lab.”

“Facebook is a world leader in data center efficiency, and we are happy to partner with them to further deliver the next generation of technologies to deliver efficiency gains,” said UCSB engineering professor John Bowers, the director of the Institute for Energy Efficiency. “They will provide us with the problems that need to be addressed, and we will work together to solve them.”

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