New Rackable Servers: Increased Density, Reduced Power Use

Rackable on Wednesday unveiled its CloudRack C2, a rack-mount server system that takes the power supplies out of the servers and replaces them in the rack with hot-pluggable redundant rectifiers to convert incoming AC power to 99 percent-efficient DC power, said George Skaff, vice president of marketing for the Fremont, Calif.-based company.

Skaff said the new CloudRack C2 is aimed at addressing the two main issues of the typical data center: wasted power for the servers and the amount of energy needed to cool the servers.

The CloudRack C2, which Rackable uses to target customers with applications requiring load-balancing, high performance, high availability and hybrid clusters, uses what it calls Rackable Power XE to cut power consumption.

First, it eliminates the need to take AC power to each server in a rack by replacing the server power supplies with front-end rectifiers, which then distribute DC power to the servers, said Saeed Atashie, senior product director for the vendor.

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The fans in the individual server trays were also removed and replaced by a series of hot-swappable fans on the back of the rack that ensure the entire rack is consistently cooled, Atashie said. Those fans feature variable speed, which differs according to the ambient temperature.

The result, Atashie said, was that power consumption was cut to about 8 percent of the normal consumption of standard fans, while allowing the amount of air conditioning needed to run the servers.

"Most server equipment is rated at 35 degrees Celsius," Atashie said. "So when you walk into a server room, you need a jacket. With Power XE, you can run the server room to up to 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. That means you can eliminate CRAC (computer room air conditioning) units in data centers, which feature only CloudRack C2 servers."

By removing the fans and power supplies, the CloudRack C2 servers have more room for components related to processing, Atashie said.

Rackable has designed the server trays so each contains up to four dual-socket motherboards with a total of up to 32 cores per tray, or up to 1,280 cores per 42U rack, Atashie said. Those motherboards are Intel Nehalem-ready, he said.

"So what's in the tray is what the customer pays for—the compute and storage capabilities," he said.

The CloudRack C2 is also highly flexible in terms of configuration choices, Atashie said. For instance, customers can choose from among a wide range of Intel or AMD processors. Furthermore, the servers can be configured with up to 32 cores and 2 TB of storage per tray for performance-optimized applications, to 16 cores with 8 TB per tray for storage-intensive applications, he said.

The CloudRack C2 is currently shipping. Pricing depends on the actual configuration.

Rackable currently works with some 25 solution providers in North America, and is in the process this year of expanding its channel base, Skaff said.

"We want to turn partners into data center experts," he said. "We want to help them become differentiated by using our expertise with their own customers."

However, Skaff said, the company is not looking to quickly expand its partner base. "You can't just sign up and resell our product," he said. "You have to commit to work in the data center with our products and utilize the resources we provide."