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Extreme Linux Server Available to North America 188

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the hot-hardware dept.
jcasman writes "CNet is covering an announcement from Japanese Linux provider Plat'Home on a low-cost, super tough Linux-based server, now available in the US, that can handle extreme heat and cold. 'The OpenMicroServer is kind of an "extreme" use server pushing the boundaries for normal, low-cost hardware. In a 624-day endurance test, the OpenMicroServer performed normally under 122 degree F conditions. The unit also employs a power efficient AMD Alchemy (MIPS) CPU and precise part placement based on thermo-fluid analysis to achieve semi-hermetic construction.'"
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Extreme Linux Server Available to North America

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  • That would be (Score:5, Informative)

    by cephah (1244770) on Monday April 21, 2008 @05:29PM (#23151130)
    50 degrees Celsius for the rest of the world.
    • by guruevi (827432)
      Actually I know my servers have been in 50 degrees Celsius environment for the past few years, nothing bad happened yet to them (not even a hard drive crash)
      • Actually I know my servers have been in 50 degrees Celsius environment for the past few years, nothing bad happened yet to them (not even a hard drive crash)
        Traffic signal controllers routinely run at 60 degrees C on hot days. The gear isn't standard but its not exactly new or exotic either.
    • Yup, there is really nothing special about 0 to 50 Celsius.
    • So it's a Nethack brick for your sauna.

      Brillant!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2008 @05:31PM (#23151160)
    So this server shouldn't get slashdotted?

    I say we test it.
  • by Seakip18 (1106315) on Monday April 21, 2008 @05:34PM (#23151190) Journal

    It can handle down to the freezing point (0 degrees F), too.
    TFA can't be right. Though I got an American education, I'm pretty sure freezing is 0 C/32F. Looks like the article writer didn't read the specs.....sounds like somebody in Norway.
    • by Adambomb (118938) on Monday April 21, 2008 @05:38PM (#23151248) Journal

      sounds like somebody in Norway.
      Nah, its just intended for a NASA re-entry module computer.
    • It can handle down to the freezing point (0 degrees F), too.

      TFA can't be right. Though I got an American education, I'm pretty sure freezing is 0 C/32F. Looks like the article writer didn't read the specs.....sounds like somebody in Norway.

      It should be possible to start most computer systems right down to a few degrees K. The main risk is that something will break through differential expansion as it heats up. I would easily believe that a COTS PC could be started at -100C, but would stabilise above 0 C once it had been working for a while.

    • by Hadlock (143607)
      Freezing point of (salty!) saltwater is 0*F. It's easier to make a scale when you have three constants instead of just two :)
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday April 21, 2008 @05:34PM (#23151192) Journal
    Ok, so it's wide temperature range, low power, and low cost. How about some more detail?

      - Actual power consumption. (How does it vary with load and temperature? What voltage (range) is required?)
      - Price.
      - Processor speed.
      - Internal memory. (Disk? Flash? How much RAM?, ...)
      - I/O ports. (How many? What are they?)

    Etc.

    TFA was fluff.
  • by Dunbal (464142) on Monday April 21, 2008 @05:36PM (#23151218)
    BUT - will it run linu..... oh, nevermind.
  • Being from a cold weather climate where I can see several applications for outdoor applications, I am curious as to what they mean by "down to the freezing point (0 degrees F)." Surely they meant 0 Celsius.
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      Not a whole lot. I've got standard gear running out in the "wild" that runs year after year at their "extreme" temperatures.

      Hell I have a old P-III that has been running a Digipeater on top of a tower in a nema 4 sealed case for 10 years now. It has seen -10DegF on a regular basis, as well as internal temps above 120F.

      What is so special about this server? I've been able to buy intel based stuff that can do this for decades now.
      • by timeOday (582209)
        An old P3 would have a much better chance of surviving high temps than today's CPUs, which are pushing the thermal limits much harder. I think a P3 700 consumes about 18 W.
    • Zero degrees centigrade is the freezing point of distilled water. This is somewhat rare in outdoor applications. The Fahrenheit scale uses the freezing point of salt water as its zero because it is much easier to get some partially contaminated water and contaminate it more than it is to purify the water.
  • Wow! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Monday April 21, 2008 @05:40PM (#23151270) Homepage Journal
    A server that could be used in North Dakota! (Seriously, that place is lethally hot in the summer and lethally cold the rest of the year. Rumour has it that the Indian burial mounds there were built by aliens, as the Indians didn't want to stay there long enough.)

    An extreme end server that is ruggedized against severe temperatures has potential value in a number of areas. First, it certainly meets the thermal requirements for military-grade systems, so I would expect to see this getting some interested looks from that direction. Severe temperatures have killed voting machines, so that's another place that might be very interested in this server. Commodity e-voting with far more reliable hardware will sound a LOT more atractive to many States. The range isn't extreme enough to support some of the really harsh environments out there, but it would be good enough to get a tracked vehicle with a hose attachment into places too hot and too dangerous for human firefighters who wouldn't be able to stay that close to a fire.

  • Extreme? (Score:5, Informative)

    by clarkn0va (807617) <apt.get@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday April 21, 2008 @05:40PM (#23151274) Homepage
    0-50C is hardly extreme. (Use the AC adapter and it's 0-40C--same as just about any of the commodity electronic components in my home).

    Sorry if I'm not overly impressed.

    db

    • Re:Extreme? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Flavio (12072) on Monday April 21, 2008 @05:58PM (#23151504)
      Exactly. I design instrumentation for the power industry. We're talking about equipment which has to run at up to 70 C during the day, every day, with a target lifespan of at least a decade. That can get tricky, specially in humid environments (think of power substations installed deep in the jungle), but it can be done and has been done for the last 50 years.

      0-50 C gets close to consumer grade. As long as you choose power efficient designs, use a decent safety factor for the power supply and buy good parts (meaning no cheap electrolytic capacitors built with stolen formulas), there won't be any problems.
    • by johannesg (664142)
      Yeah. I work in the space industry. I am currently looking at equipment that needs to survive temperatures from -200C to +200C, in a 10-7mbar vacuum (i.e. there is no heat conduction through the atmosphere, so you can forget about fans). *That* is an extreme environment.

      What is described here is merely the room temperature range preferred by my two colleagues (I think they are both weird, but that's another story).
    • Agreed. The outdoor air temperature here can vary from -45C to +45C. And at +45, you can bet that most electronics will be running warmer than ambient temperature.

      I'm most disappointed in this thing's ability to handle cold. Only down to 0C? Pretty much useless around here.
    • Re:Extreme? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by JungleBoy (7578) on Monday April 21, 2008 @06:32PM (#23151906)
      I agree as well. I regularly need embedded servers/controllers and ethernet switches that work down to -40 degrees (C/F are the same here). I install them on mountain tops in Alaska. What really annoys me is when the specs list -40 as the minimum operating temperatures, but they used crappy ethernet PHY chips that need to be kept warm, so they use a heater circuit. They never tell you this in the documentation, you just wonder why the power usage goes through the room when it gets cold.

  • Half the story (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JesseL (107722) * on Monday April 21, 2008 @05:46PM (#23151342) Homepage Journal
    How well does it work in a condensing atmosphere?

    It's easy to work down to 0C when conditions are perfectly dry, it's another story when everything starts to sweat.

    And what kind of airflow are we talking about when operating at 122F ambient?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by snowraver1 (1052510)
      Generally speaking, condensation is not really an issue for operating electronics.

      Using electricity, however much, generates heat. This means that the device will always be warmer than the ambiant temperature. If the temerature drops to the dew point, condensaction forms on objects that are the same temperature or colder than the dew point, but since your device is generating heat, it will remain dew/frost free!

      Think, when there is frost (or dew) do you ever have frost on the exterior of your house? T
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JesseL (107722) *
        How about when powering up a device that's been off for a while?

        Or if the ambient temperature suddenly shifts? Not everything lives in a stationary box.

        I've had to apply conformal coatings to enough industrial electronics to know that humidity does cause issues for them.

        The stuff my company has done in manufacturing power generating wind turbine controls makes this thing's specs pretty unimpressive.
      • I dare say, even powered on things frost up pretty good at my job...

        I give you FROST [networkboy.net]
        and its source [networkboy.net]
        It's cheating, I know... but considering my crap works this cold, how dare they claim to only work to 0 degrees (other than K & R).
        -nB
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      Grab a can of Chemtronics spray conformal coating and I can make it work fine in 100% humidity and constant condensation. It's brain-dead easy to make this stuff more durable to atmospheric conditions. Typically though you put them in a sealed cabinet with a dessicant can so you dont have the problem

  • How can something be "semi"-airtight? Does this mean that if you plug it in and drop it into the bathtub with you, you'll only end up semi-dead?
    • by Yvan256 (722131)
      Kinda. You'll be scared half to death. But don't do it twice!
    • It double's as a carrying cage for Schroedinger's cat.
    • How can something be "semi"-airtight? Does this mean that if you plug it in and drop it into the bathtub with you, you'll only end up semi-dead?


      Well, air getting into it wouldn't really be the problem in that scenario, now would it?

  • by Zaatxe (939368) on Monday April 21, 2008 @06:07PM (#23151576)
    But will it run Vista?
  • by viking80 (697716) on Monday April 21, 2008 @06:18PM (#23151722) Journal
    You do not know what "precise part placement based on thermo-fluid analysis to achieve semi-hermetic construction" means?
    Well, lets break it up:
    a) "precise part placement"
    b) "thermo-fluid analysis"
    c) "semi-hermetic construction"
    It means that
    A) the CPU is placed close to the case, so B)the case functions as a heat sink. Therefore, no fan is needed and the box is C) dustproof.

    This happens to be a fairly common design.
  • The specs on one page mentions PowerPC.

    Also what is the suggested retail price of this?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2008 @06:24PM (#23151802)
    Many evolutionary servologists believe that the computers that function in modern server room environments share a common ancestor that existed before air conditioning and electric power generation. Ancient servers were likely powered by sulfur compounds and operated at much higher temperatures and pressures.
  • With titles like "Extereme Linux Server", what will have next? "Linux servers gone wild" maybe? ;)
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday April 21, 2008 @06:32PM (#23151908) Homepage

    I just came back from the Embedded Systems Conference, where you see systems running on shake tables, or submerged in aquaria. With fish. -18C to 50C is not an industrial temperature range. Normally, the "commercial range" is 0C to 70C, and "industrial range" is -40C to +85C. It's all solid state memory, so there's not much of a temperature problem at the low end, as long as the humidity is low enough to avoid condensation or ice. "Thermo-fluid analysis to achieve semi-hermetic construction." - right.

    Also, the thing has a MIPS processor, and it's a bit late for that. It's not even AMD product any more; the Alchemy line was sold off to Raza [razamicroelectronics.com] years ago.

  • So by the time you buy it, the darned thing's already been obsolete for a year and a half or so?
  • This actually looks like something I could use. I am considering building a mock up of a data center in my condo. The big problems are lack of space, noise, heat, and power. I'd be interested to know the price of one with minimal specs. I'd like to put 6 of these in my closet, and have one run as a NAS, and the other as routers, firewalls, and servers. If they are under $500 I would highly consider them. Putting a real 19" rack in the closet with real 1u or 2u servers is just amazingly hot and noisy. But 6
    • by afidel (530433)
      Why not just run a bunch of VM's on a workstation? Since these only have 128MB of ram any decent workstation from the last couple years could run the same easily.
      • by Trogre (513942)
        There are 4 boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order. Starting now.

        So how's that working out for you so far?

        • by afidel (530433)
          I'm at a combination of ballot and jury. I work for the campaigns of candidates who I like, campaign against those I don't and inform everyone I know who will listen about their civic duty to follow their conscious and perform jury nullification when they believe the law is unjust.
  • by quag7 (462196) <deepspace@dataswamp.net> on Tuesday April 22, 2008 @01:35AM (#23155052) Homepage
    This is good, because I plan on running a cluster in Hell. What I would like to know is whether or not it is resistant to gay christian right republicans, because there will be a lot of them there.

    I don't want to no gay christian republicans all up in my box (And I mean that in every conceivable way).

    Also, in the event that hell freezes over, or snowballs do, in fact, have a chance, or we experience, merely, a cold day in hell, I need to know whether it will survive a hard freeze. I for one continue to be disappointed in the fact that servers like this don't come with notoriously insulating Unix beards. By which I mean Unix beards, the dudes, not Unix beards, the beards. We could cut one open like a tauntaun (Unix beard, the dude) and stick the box inside.

    And then there is smugness shielding. I don't want Satan all up in my grill about uptimes lasting an eternity, which I totally fucking plan on attaining. I for one will not be rebooting every 48 hours for some stupid Vista upgrade.

    Also, do the gates of hell constitute a "firewall"? There's a lot of fire there, and it is kind of wallish. Is port 80 open? Does god forbid export of strong crypto to hell? Are codecs free in the afterlife? Will I be sued by SCO? Because you know they'll all be in hell, and you know Satan has strong connections with Microsoft and lots of capital.

    There will be a lot to navigate (I hear the ferry o'er the river styx is completely wallpapered in hardcore pornographic images of Maureen O'Gara in flagrante delicto with Steve Ballmer and Steve Jobs.

    I need a server up to the challenge. Is this it?

    • I could just point you to the FM, but I will try and help. The manual, btw, is quite old and I am relying on the release by Dante Alighieri, published around 1300 AD. There have as far as I know been no updates.

      The firewall. It's made of burning iron, and completely blocks TCP/IP traffic. The only packages allowed through have to be carried by "Messengers", it is a kind of advanced pigeon post. No information about bandwdidth.

      Many parts of Hell are at room temperature. There is a region which is almost id

  • finally, hardware built with the needs of penguins in mind, Linus is probably shedding tears of joy, icy tears mind
  • Their 'for customers' page (here [plathome.com]) clearly states: "We do not sell the MicroServer series directly to consumers."

    In other words, this device is "available"... if you're a company rich enough to buy many of them. It's not "available" if you just want to buy one to play around with at home.

    This is like those nifty SSD devices [sandisk.com] which are also not being sold directly to consumers.

    These companies refuse to sell directly to consumers, presumably because they don't want to maintain a consumer-facing customer-service

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