This is what it means to square a circle
A California-based company has designed custom racks that enabled their customer to stick 44 cylindrical Apple Mac Pro workstations - a marvel of unorthodox hardware engineering - into a typical server cabinet.
An article in TechRepublic details the challenges faced by Racklive, which was tasked with creating a suitable data center enclosure for Apple’s cylindrical computers.
These were then tested by imgix - a cloud-based image hosting and processing service, which relies on OS X’s graphics frameworks.
The Mac Rack
Apple’s Mac Pro was described by its creators as a ‘re-imagination of the desktop’. It throws out the conventional workstation design rulebook: instead of a dense cuboid, we are faced by a 9.9-inch hollow cylinder. Inside, two AMD video cards and a motherboard equipped with a 12-core Xeon form a triangle - the cold air enters at the bottom and is vented at the top.
imgix was set on getting these unusual-looking devices into its data center, and asked Racklive to develop a custom solution.
After several design iterations, Racklive decided to place the Macs sideways, venting hot air into the corresponding aisle much like a conventional server would. Each of the rack mounted units contains four workstations in a 4U form-factor – a total of 44 in a 46U cabinet, along with required power and networking equipment.
imgix says the new racks have dramatically increased utilization and peak power draw over the previous design, which relied on Mac Minis, and plans to install more.
Racklive owns the rights to its rack mount system and told TechRepublic it would be open to selling it to other customers.
But data center engineers don’t need to deploy desktop hardware to fill their facility with cylinders. Another California-based start-up, Vapor IO, has recently launched a product that adopts a similar shape, enlarged to the size of a conventional server cabinet. It is even cooled in the same way, with the ‘hot column’ air rising in the center.