Facebook has a massive data center that deals with all the data that users of the social network upload on a daily basis. The data centers that Facebook uses are packed with the latest technology for storage and performance. It's a bit surprising to learn that Facebook is also using some low-tech storage methods, namely Blu-ray discs.
Facebook has built a robotic device that is able to operate without human intervention. The robot is very simple and is made to pick up things and move them from place to place. Facebook is using the Blu-ray discs for what it calls cold storage. Using the discs to store older data is cheaper than using hard drives or flash storage according to Facebook.
The robotic arm helps to move the Blu-ray discs to and from the drives where the data is written and retrieved from the optical media. Facebook only uses this media for storing content like old photos that are rarely accessed. Facebook's project with Blu-ray discs and robots could signal a more automated future for data centers.
The robotic arm used in the project is from a company called JIT Archive Corp and was originally designed to store data on CDs for offices and hospitals. Facebook and its team worked with the company to update the arm for use in a data center rack. The update involved making the arm longer. The cold storage rack can hold 10,000 Blu-ray discs in dozens of trays. The arm will find the disc needed, and move it to a drive where it can be written and read.