Rackable Embraces Warmth in Cabinet Design

Rackable Systems today announced a new type of cabinet that embraces warmth instead of cooling, turning the issue of power management on its ear. Instead of the obsession with turning its computer cabinets into a refrigerator, Rackable decided to let things warm up a bit.

Rackable’s (NASDAQ: RACK) CloudRack C2 dispenses with two features long believed necessary in a rack mount enclosure: cooling and a power supply. Instead, Rackable allows the C2 to run normally at temperatures almost double the usual rate.

At the same time, it’s taking out the heat-generating power supply that connects to every rack. Instead, the racks connect directly to DC power plugs. So instead of a power supply for each rack, the cabinet itself has one very large AC to DC converter, and all of the racks connect to that converter.

It’s a Rackable invention, but Mark Barrenechea, president and CEO of Rackable Systems, might be tempted to part with it. “Right now it’s part of the Rackable advantage, but if Michael Dell would like to borrow it, he can certainly give me a call,” he joked to InternetNews.com.

The result is a cabinet with 99 percent power efficiency because the DC power draw at each rack is exactly what the rack needs at that time. The C2 cabinets can hold up to 1,280 cores, or 320 processors. Rackable offers AMD (NYSE: AMD) Opteron and Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) Xeon processors, and plans to offer the forthcoming Nehalem-EP X55x0 line of Xeons once Intel releases them.

Safety at warmer temperatures

The CloudRack C2 is thermally optimized to allow datacenters to operate at up to 40 degrees Celcius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s nearly double the 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit of many servers. Intel research recently showed that datacenters can operate safely at higher temperatures, and the industry’s obsession with turning servers into a freezer are not founded.

“For every watt to power a node, there’s a second watt to cool it,” said Barrenechea. “With C2, we are supporting, evangelizing, articulating, recommending and going to warranty that you can run your datacenter at higher temperatures. Our long term mission is enabling the eco-datacenter, and we won’t rest until the second watt is eliminated.”

The C2’s power efficiency helps eliminate what’s called “stranded power,” where it literally is unused in the system. This can increase power usage by up to 20 percent, meaning a datacenter can use 20 percent less power, or increase its density by that much.

Because of so many fundamental changes to the design, the C2 won’t support older Rackable computer racks. It will only use racks designed with the new DC plug in mind.

The CloudRack C2 is available now from Rackable and resellers.

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