For Mac server users, desperation is the mother of invention

For Mac server users, desperation is the mother of invention

Summary: What's an Xserve user to do when he needs a dense, rack mounted OS X solution?

TOPICS: Apple, Data Centers

You’re an organization with an absolute need to have the latest and greatest version of OS X running in your datacenter on current generation Mac hardware, and the Xserve product line, of which you already own 40 units, and which Apple has abandoned. So now what do you do now when you need to update them with something with similar rack density? Well for one enterprising engineer, his decision was to build a custom datacenter rack to house 160 Mac Mini’s.

Working for a software developer that designs products for Windows,  Linux, and Mac operating systems our enterprising blogger Steve (no other information as to name or company) has chronicled his development of a rack enclosure to hold 160 Mac Mini’s, giving him 640 cores or 1280 threads of dedicated CPU power. He explains why his company went this route, rather than using a non-standard virtualization solution (not the least of which is because the Apple EULA allows OS X to be run only on Apple hardware).

To get this to work he needed to design custom 1U drawers to hold four Mac Mini’s as well as plastic diverters and additional cooling systems to keep each mac within its temperature operating range, a task easier said than done because Apple never envisioned the systems being packaged quite this way.


Despite living in a datacenter, these 160 Mac Mini's are not used to serve any applications; they are configured as individual systems to run tests on the OS X version of the companies software product, using automation tools to accomplish this task.

And Steve tells us in his blog that this is just the first step; his next rack will jump up to six Mac Mini’s per rack drawer to get 240 machines capable of running OS X into the same space.

Topics: Apple, Data Centers

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  • and with apple pricing that should cost just under..

    Obama's 2013 fiscal deficit.. ($1.19 trillion)
    • Relevance?

      And why don't you run, since most people who do can't get it back down...
      • Because..

        I have a personality that a chemistry professor once likened to flourine gas..highly reactive to every known substance. I would tell people how stupid they are to their face, thus not be elected.
    • Price is probably reasoonable for a fully populated rack, actually

      I'd guess that it's around $140K; not a bad price for 160 quad-core Intel Core i7 2.3GHz, 4GB RAM, 1TB Hard Drive rack systems, regardless of datacenter equipment vendor.
      David Chernicoff
      • Not really a good deal

        You can buy 8+ core servers for even under $500 with hdd with 16GB ram, multi 1TB hdds in raid, and they are made for normal preexisting racks. I personally have a dual cpu 8 core half depth 1U 16GB server 1TB hdd that I picked up for only $120+free hdd I got. At this price it would be less then $25,000 for a setup with better performance with each machine having 16GB ram and a better upgrade potential ECC ram, a professional serverboad made by a real server company, a real server OS (linux), multiple ethernet ports on each machine, more add in ports such as 1 PCI-E 16x and 1-4X and the possibility for multiple redundant power supplies. This setup would be more beneficial to a major amount of companies, be cheaper, more powerful, and have better uptime, everything a professional company needs.
  • The form factor is cool and compact

    I'm sure small form factor PC and Linux boxes could be designed in a similar fashion. I like this rack and believe it could be used as a means to save energy. More cores in a smaller space could be cooled in smaller rooms requiring less air conditioning. A win for everybody.
  • Sonnet sell a range of 1U Mac Mini mounting hardware.

    Sonnet sell a range of 1U Mac Mini mounting hardware. And have done for some time.

    So what's the story here?

    Slow news day?
    Henry 3 Dogg