Rackable servers aim to undercut virtualisation

Server maker Rackable has introduced a line of datacentre-oriented systems that it says can provide a lower-cost alternative to virtualisation
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

Server maker Rackable has introduced a line of datacentre-oriented systems that it says can provide a lower-cost alternative to virtualisation.

Server virtualisation provides a way to cut costs and simplify infrastructure by dividing a single physical system up into many virtual servers. Rackable's MicroSlice architecture achieves a similar effect through the use of small Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX motherboards, originally designed for PCs or embedded systems, the company said.

This technique can fit up to 264 servers per cabinet, while drawing on as little as 72 watts of power per server, Rackable said in a statement announcing the launch on Wednesday. It did not specify pricing, but said that in larger configurations, the price per server node can drop below $500 (£360).

The fact that no software is required cuts costs further, Rackable said — a feature it calls "physicalisation".

The systems are designed for workloads such as web serving, print and file serving, running searches and powering cloud services.

The products with the highest server density in the new line are two CloudRack trays, one based on a Micro-ATX board and the other based on Mini-ITX. CloudRack trays have no cover and do not have their own fan, but fit into a specially designed enclosure where large fans cool all the trays together, as a power-saving measure. Rackable introduced the CloudRack form factor in October.

The TR1000-AT1 tray, based on the Mini-ITX motherboard form factor, houses up to six servers, each with AMD's dual-core Athlon and its N690E/SB600 chipset, two DIMM memory slots and one 2.5-inch hard drive.

The TR1000-ATP1 tray, using the Micro-ATX form factor, houses up to three servers, each with a dual-core Athlon, or tri-core or quad-core AMD Phenom CPU, four DIMM slots and one 2.5-inch hard drive.

Rackable is also offering two 1U-form factor servers, which can be used in standard enclosures, and which are based on the dual-core Athlon. The C1000-AT1 has two DIMM slots and one 3.5-inch internal hard drive, while the C1002-AT1 has the same number of DIMM slots, but supports two 3.5-inch or four 2.5-inch hard drives. Both of these units are based on Mini-ITX motherboards.

The systems are certified for Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008, as well as Linux distributions from Red Hat and Novell, and are available immediately. Rackable said it expects the systems to support Intel processors sometime this quarter.

More information on MicroSlice can be found on Rackable's website.

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