IT & Network Infrastructure : U2 Turns to Dell to Keep Massive Concert Stage Rattling and Humming

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2011-06-24 Print this article Print
Dell Nerve Center

Dell Nerve Center

In an obscure tent, way at the back of the stadium, U2's video and sound directors manage all the lights and video from 15 cameras to go with prerecorded video and graphics for the two-hour-plus stadium "U2 360" concert. It's all controlled using off-the-shelf Dell workstations and monitors.
As anybody who's experienced a U2 concert knows, these events can fill a sports stadium with light and sound. To match the intense rock beat of the four musicians—drummer Larry Mullen Jr., bassist Adam Clayton, guitarist The Edge, and singer Bono—the stage presentation simply has to be huge, and it is. In the case of this year's international U2 360 concert series, the stage is seven stories high and weighs 54 tons. It unfolds to cover most of a major league baseball field, and it carries virtually all the electronics directly above the stage where the band works. To ensure that each show comes off without a bit of feedback or any type of video hitch, show producer Live Nation Entertainment, which used to build all its own custom IT, now has deployed a purpose-built control package that sits in a control tent opposite the stage. The IT consists of off-the-shelf Dell Precision R5400 rack-mounted workstations and UltraSharp U2711 monitors for concert video control and management, in addition to Precision M6500 17-inch mobile workstations—used for off-site, on-the-go content creation and rendering. There is not a single customized workstation or monitor in the tent for this concert, and every function is replicated in case something goes down, which is rare. Recently eWEEK had the opportunity to check out the results of a U2 show first hand; the one in this slide show was staged June 17 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.
Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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