Rackable Says New Servers Store More for Less

The storage server maker claims that new additions to its servers, such as using DC power, will help lower costs, increase capacity and improve thermal efficiency.

Rackable Systems, a maker of high-density storage servers with basic software features for large-scale data centers, introduced on June 19 several new additions to its family of rack-mount products.

The Milpitas, Calif., company, which sold Google its first 10,000 servers in 1999, builds servers that can be connected to produce storage capacity as high as 273TB per cabinet, Rackables director of storage product marketing David Yu told eWEEK.

In this configuration, each cabinet holds 14 server units, Yu said.

Based on an open architecture approach using industry-standard components, Rackables storage servers are available in both half-depth and standard-depth form factors, Yu said, which allows back-to-back mounting for high density and thermal efficiency.

The new Rackable Systems S6026 storage server, which features 26 hot-swappable SATA (Serial ATA) drives per 6U, can be mounted back-to-back in one cabinet to produce 273TB of storage with the processing capability of 56 cores, Yu said.

"Because we have all the I/O cables in front [of each unit], and because the airflow is redirected out a chimney on top, servicing is much easier and the cooling better utilized," Yu said. "All the drives are also accessible from the front."

Traditionally, AC (alternate current) comes into the data center from an outside power source. Once inside the facility, it goes through multiple conversions back and forth with DC (direct current) before finally reaching the servers, which run on DC.

However, at those conversion points, electricity is lost and heat is generated, persuading some users to look at an all-DC network as a way of increasing efficiency and saving money.

The new units use DC power, Yu said. Proponents say that DC power produces 20 to 40 percent less heat and improves server reliability by 27 percent.

In addition, given the options in some DC layouts, fewer parts in the power string mean lower cost and easier management.

New enterprise-class, standard-depth designs feature added redundancy and expansion card flexibility, Yu said.

Todays fastest single- and dual-core 64-bit processors from AMD and Intel can be used across Rackables full range of bulk storage servers, he added.

Rackable considers its products to be "commodity based, in that they have few bells and whistles," Yu said.

"What we dont offer are features like failover, replication, bundle storage management, and some others," Yu said. "We see our servers as building blocks enterprises can use to build their own extreme-capacity storage systems."

/zimages/1/28571.gifCan DC power cut data center costs? Click here to read more.

This basic software approach is a big factor in keeping the overall cost for Rackables servers down, Yu said.

"We can get the price way down to something like $2 per gigabyte," he said.

Too many companies today are overpaying for bulk storage, and these new servers provide an alternative for customers looking to consolidate and scale their storage infrastructure, Rackables CEO Tom Barton said.

"Our commodity-based storage servers are an ideal choice for data centers seeking lower-cost, high-capacity storage alternatives," he added.

Rackables bulk-tier storage servers include a full range of 2U, 3U and 6U form factors with drive counts ranging from six to 26 drives per system. Options include redundant power and cooling, hot-swappable drives, battery backup and DC Power capabilities.

The S6026, which will become available in the third quarter of 2006, starts at a list price of $26,000 for a configuration using 500GB drives.

/zimages/1/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...