Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A look at Sun's Blackbox

Attended a very nice function by Sun at Darling Harbour in Sydney today to take a look at their server in a shipping container.

Racks are squeezed into a standard shipping container in a front to back packing arrangement. Between each rack are fans with heat exchangers that cool the air by using cold water. So the air flows into the front of one rack, out the back, through the heat exchangers and then in to the front of the next one.

Water is much more efficient for removing heat than air. I note that the standard unit contains a dehumidifier...

Racks slide out for access to both front and back. It's a clever idea and achieves higher density than you get in a normal data centre.

The warm water is cooled either in a building's system or in an external cooler and then it re-circulates. The air flow is a loop inside the box too so it all stays cool when closed.

Applications include things like:
  • Temporary data centre (perhaps for the Olympics or to render a film)
  • Building a data centre in a car park or warehouse (because you don't need an expensive space with false floors and airconditioning)
  • Door stop
  • Paper weight
It's a clever idea, although there must be some consternation about Google getting a patent on the same idea. Sun is a much more interesting company than it was a few years ago, there was a genuine buzz of enthusiasm from staff and customers at the event today.

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