Rackable Taps Intel 'Nehalem' Chips for Cloud Offering

 
 
By Scott Ferguson  |  Posted 2009-03-20
 
 
 

Rackable Systems is stepping deeper into the emerging field of cloud computing infrastructure with a server rack cabinet that offers a combination of Advanced Micro Devices and Intel processors, including newer "Nehalem" chips.

Rackable announced its new CloudRack C2 cabinet earlier this week on March 18. In addition to using up-to-date Intel and AMD processors, Rackable is looking to push the envelope in terms of both power and density when it comes to building data centers that support the cloud.

For example, Rackable CEO Mark Barrenechea said the design of the company's C2 cabinet will allow data centers to run even hotter.

In this case, the Rackable technology allows the data center to run at up 40 degrees Celsius-104 degrees Fahrenheit-which allows IT managers to use less air conditioning and less power in the room.

The cabinets are built with hot-swappable fans and Rackable is also following the lead of other companies such as Sun Microsystems by incorporating SSDs (solid-state drives) into the individual server trays to help reduce power and cut down on moving parts, which also extends the life of the hardware.

Rackable is using an SSD that Intel released a few months ago.

The C2 cabinet also allows for better use of power by converting AC current to 12-volt DC power supplies through hot-pluggable, N+1 rectifiers. This technology is called Power XE by Rackable. The result is better phase balancing and more efficient use of power within the data, which can save money, Rackable said.

"If your power bill is $50 million and we can claim 20 percent of that back, we have just saved you $10 million," Barrenechea said during an interview. "We think that this is a bright-line value proposition with our C2 rack and Power XE technology."

Unlike previous configurations, in the CloudRack C2 Rackable moved all the power supplies away from the server trays and into the cabinet itself, allowing the company to cram more technology into the C2, which comes in two sizes: 23U (40.25 inches) and 46U (80.5 inches).

At the same time, Rackable is also looking to make its C2 cabinet denser. By moving the heating and power components away from the server trays or chassis, Rackable is able to pack more than 1,200 processing cores into the cabinet.

In addition to the current crop of quad-core Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron processors, Rackable is planning to offer systems built with Intel's upcoming "Nehalem EP" processors. (Intel is expected to release these chips at the end of March.)

In releasing the C2 and focusing so much energy on power and density, Rackable is looking to target the offerings coming from some of the bigger players in the market, such as IBM and its iDataPlex array.

"We think we have a bright-line advantage when it comes to power efficiency," Barrenechea said. "Getting to 99 percent efficiency and phase balancing and running at high temperatures has been a goal of the industry for many years. We really feel like we're going to be first in the market with that advantage. We also feel like the C2 is the deal configuration environment."

The Rackable C2 is now available as a made-to-order system. Company executives declined to discuss specific pricing.

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