For Mac server users, desperation is the mother of invention

What's an Xserve user to do when he needs a dense, rack mounted OS X solution?
Written by David Chernicoff, Contributor

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.

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