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Report: Facebook data centers use 'racks and racks' of Mac minis

updated 05:57 pm EST, Fri December 6, 2013

Mac mini arrays used for iOS app testing, general computing

Social media giant Facebook isn't generally known for its Apple technology use, but a new report suggests that it may have thousands of Mac minis in its data centers. According to ex-Apple engineer and current Facebook employee Christian Legnitto, the Facebook data centers in Prineville, OR and Forest City, NC both have "racks and racks" loaded with the diminutive computer performing "hundreds of thousands of tests every couple of hours" on iOS software in development.

Facebook has made no secret of the fact that much of its backbone is Linux-based. Apple, however, requires that Apple software be run on Apple hardware, necessitating the arrays of machines. Legnitto notes that "when you're shipping to hundreds of millions of users, those one-in-a-million bugs can happen hundreds of times."

Speaking of mobile testing, test engineer Josh Kalderimis noted that "doing testing in the cloud with Linux has been typically easy, but doing it with Mac hasn't. If you wanted to do large scale, you had to do a build-your-own setup." Apple licensing terms don't allow virtualization, so for the social network to not potentially incur the wrath of Cupertino, Kalderimis said that "we play it by the book," referring to the Mac minis and the lack of virtualization solutions.

Apple's retail price on a server-version of the Mac Mini starts at $1,000 and works up from there. Facebook is clearly not paying retail for the hardware, but the performance per dollar and per unit-volume exceeds the aluminum-sided Mac Pro. Additionally, the small and flat computer takes to rack-mounting better than the forthcoming round profile Mac Pro likely will.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. x86isslow

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-17-06

    Here's Microsoft's racks and racks of Mac minis from 2006.
    http://davidweiss.blogspot.com/2006/04/tour-of-microsofts-mac-lab.html

  1. OldMacGeek

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-04-10

    Well, that outdoes my rack of 24 triple-boot Mac minis that I use as an automated test rack.

    :)

  1. paulvail

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 02-20-02

    Can you imagine what they could have done with a few modernized Xserves? You know, a 1U server from Apple that would have had redundant power supplies, lights out management, built in multiple easy-to-access drive bays, fiber ports, dedicated hardware RAID and maybe a non-watered down server application to go with it?

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by paulvailView Post

    Can you imagine what they could have done with a few modernized Xserves? You know, a 1U server from Apple that would have had redundant power supplies, lights out management, built in multiple easy-to-access drive bays, fiber ports, dedicated hardware RAID and maybe a non-watered down server application to go with it?



    Nothing they can't now, except that it would be HELLA more expensive.

    (Hint: Read the article to see what they're actually being used for.)

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