Rackable announces low-power rack system

The CloudRack C2 rack is the company's second for the cloud market, allowing greater density of servers and blades than its predecessor
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

Rackable Systems has redesigned its racks for corporate systems, with the aim of reducing the amount of power the racks use.

The intention is that each rack produces less heat, so the energy required for air conditioning will be less, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

The new CloudRack C2 is the company's second rack for the cloud market, but in this version the racks are packed in a greater density than in the first version. The racks, containing both servers and blades, can be fitted in a smaller space or fitted with more servers packed into the same space, the company said. Having many computers pushed together into smaller spaces has become a typical feature of datacentres that run cloud-based applications.

CloudRack C2 provides server densities with "up to 1,280 cores per cabinet and 99 percent energy efficiencies", Rackable said in its statement.

The key to high computer densities is to use less power, Rod Evans, managing director of Rackable EMEA, told ZDNet UK on Friday. "Instead of using AC power of 250v, Rackable uses 12v DC power," he said.

The result is that the systems are not only safer to operate, but are also cooler, and can be stacked closer together while still offering lower power use. "We can give a 25 to 30 percent power saving with our racks," Evans claimed.

There are other efficiencies too, Evans said, such as putting a rack "straight onto a concrete floor" so the company does not have to use raised flooring in order to fit electrical units underneath, as they would have to in many datacentres.

Much of the savings can also come from a reduced need for fans, Evans suggested. "Fans can account for 35 percent of the power used in a datacentre, sometimes more," he said. "Low power means less heat, so you don't have to drive the fans as hard, and can manage with fewer, and they are more reliable."

The greatest efficiency comes from being able to operate the datacentre "with the thermostat turned up", Evans said.

Rackable is not alone in its quest to improve heat and power use in datacentres — other companies, such as Rackspace, Dell, HP and IBM, are looking at similar ways, including lower power input, to find efficiency.

Financially, Rackable has not done too well this year. Sales figures for the past year show that it saw a year-on-year fall in revenue of $38.8m (£27m) in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Rackable servers

This picture shows one of Rackable's high-density racks. It reveals how densely packed the racks are, which is made possible with a low-power rack
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