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A Server That Can Fall From the Sky, and Survive 91

Posted by timothy
from the but-don't-stand-underneath dept.
alphadogg writes "A rugged server from NCS Technologies introduced on Friday can withstand drops, will work in extreme temperatures and can be deployed via parachute into crisis areas or war zones if needed. The Bunker XRV-5241 is a 1U rack server designed for organizations such as the military and first responders that need servers in rugged environments. The server has been tested to meet U.S. Department of Defense specifications for environmental, temperature and shock requirements." Hope they drop some hardened screens, too, to help with setup.
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A Server That Can Fall From the Sky, and Survive

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  • by ls671 (1122017)

    This is perfect for me. When my girlfriend goes nuts, she throws everything around, including computers. She broke a few already. My thinkpad T-43 amazingly survived a few hits from her.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 27, 2013 @05:47AM (#42706309)

    Needs pictures of the inside so we can see what makes it so rugged, but not even the manufacturer website has internal pictures, and the outside is just a generic 1U server.

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @06:36AM (#42706421) Homepage

      Here's a link to the manufacturer's site, with pictures that don't need Javascript or social networking enabled:

      http://www.ncst.com/content/bunker-xrv-5241 [ncst.com]

      • "This server is suited for submarine and tacked vehicle racks"

        Tacked vehicles? Tacked? Forgive me - I'm really not a grammar nazi or spelling nazi, but FFS, you would think that a corporate web page might get things right. WTF is a tacked vehicle? A sailboat? Possibly - but it's pretty certain that they mean TRACKED vehicles, like tanks and command vehicles.

        If I'm trying to appeal to medical professionals, I'd like to get my terminology straight, at the least, so that I might actually make some sales.

        • As an aside - why does Firefox spell checker tell me that nazi is misspelled?

          Because Nazi is a proper noun and should be capitalized, and while that isn't a spelling error, it wouldn't make sense for them to purposely include an orthography error in their dictionary.

      • How to make military-grade network gear:

        1. Get network equipment.
        2. Slap it in a ruggedized box.
        3. Slap an extra 0 or two on the invoice.

        That said, I wouldn't mind having some PacStar [pacstar.com] gear around for the next disaster.

      • That link has no pictures of the inside, nor descriptions of what makes it so rugged. You completely missed the only two points of the post you replied to, and effectively restated the nothing-burger that is the submission.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 27, 2013 @05:49AM (#42706321)

    when one of these things accidentally drops on someone below and the official report is death from "server overhead."

  • Don't worry Iran... (Score:4, Informative)

    by flyingfsck (986395) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @05:50AM (#42706323)
    Bah, only +50 Celsius. Quite useless in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Siria...
    • by ls671 (1122017)

      Holy shit, I never realized that temperatures could go that high on planet Earth, there is even unconfirmed report of 87 Celsius in Iran:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_weather_records [wikipedia.org]

      • by Scoldog (875927)
        NSW in Australia has just survived a heat wave where there was recorded 50 degree Celsius in some of the bush towns. Where I lived, it hit 46 degree which is the highest temperature ever recorded
      • I measured the temperature of a concrete runway surface at 72 Celsius.
      • by RockDoctor (15477)
        There is a (disputed) report of something like 57degC in Lybia, and generally accepted reports of 55-odd (IIRC) from Death Valley USA. I've worked in 49degC in the Arabian Desert (trying to maintain analytical machinery with oven temperatures that have to stay below 65degC in those conditions, when your AC doesn't work, is not "fun" by anyone's meaning of "fun"), and lower temperatures are just routine.

        87degC ... I really doubt. It might not be under standard conditions (not that most of the others were me

    • I have run regular HP DL360 servers quite happily in various locations around Afghanistan. Heat is a problem, but it isn't the ambient heat that's the issue. The environment is very dusty and moving parts (especially fans) have a very short life. Once the fan is dead, the heat then becomes a problem very quickly.
      I notice the TFA doesn't mention any filtration, so these boxes are no better than OTS kit in that respect.

      Also, getting blown up and shot at tends to reduce the useful life of boxes too.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        If your problem is "the bad guys are shooting at us" then you don't need servers you need infantry.

        It's once you have infantry and the bad guys are (mostly) not shooting at you that you want servers.

        An army is a portable civilisation, and that means you've got to bring everything including the kitchen sink, quite literally, but obviously the first people you land are the infantry to fight any bad guys who might object to you putting a kitchen sink in their back yard.

      • by horza (87255)

        Why not scatter some Raspberry Pi boards, the working ones that survive the drop can then form a mesh network. No moving parts at all, and so low power that a decent solar panel can make it completely independent off-grid. Being a Pi, somebody will probably hack one onto a Roomba to clear minefields.

        Phillip.

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      The highest temperature on Earth ever is 55. That's not much bigger.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    PC World has the same press release, but with useless exterior pics of the pizzabox. It's captain-obvious that all 1U servers look pretty much the same outside. Guess those are good for a primary audience that finds servers exotic, but where's the article-relevant innards? And the drop case.

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/2026354/new-server-can-be-parachuted-into-war-zones.html [pcworld.com]

  • The problem is parachuting in the nerdy IT guy to set it up plus his supply of Code Red Mountain Dew and Doritos. So far, tests of their survivability has been dismal.
    • Pre-install OpenBSD, and route the console port via GSM. I will configure it from my mum's basement with my Samsung Galaxy S3. Just email me the Mountain Dew, Doritos, root password, and its ISDN number.
  • by pepsikid (2226416) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @06:06AM (#42706361)
    This wouldn't work for me, because the only thing that keeps some of my servers from misbehaving is the fact that they know I can drop-kick it down the stairwell if it acts up one more time.
    • You're a brave man. I'm looking at the Poweredge 2600 next to me, and I'm pretty sure that if I were to thrust any appendage of mine at it, the server would definitely be the one to later say down the pub "You should see what happened to the other guy!"
  • by AchilleTalon (540925) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @06:20AM (#42706391) Homepage
    Back in the nineties, when I was younger and working for a large computer supplier, they already have their PC (could be a small server as well) ruggerized to survive drop from helicopter platforms, mosquitoes invasions and chopped mosquitoes jam in cooling fan intakes and so one. Well, maybe it wasn't supporting extreme temperatures, I don't remember, that a few decades ago and yes, they were designed for the exactly same customer.
    • by vlm (69642)

      Just a few years before you were working there, I was using the previous gen of deployed gear, Unisys/BTOS big green machines, and all that. We found that BY FAR the biggest problem was cabling. I'd like to see wartime deployable cabling, now that would be interesting. "We" tend to baby our gear, but you can imagine what UPS/FEDEX/DHL do it it before we get it, so a durable version of the shipping package isn't all that hard to make.

      • You'd like to see wartime deployable cabling? I have a better solution. No more wartime. Just stay home and stop sending your soldiers to play in the sand. Then take all that research money and spend it in something worthwhile. I want to see mars-landing deployable cabling.

  • > Hope they drop some hardened screens, too, to help with setup.

    No screens but don't worry: it comes with SIRI!
  • > Hope they drop some hardened screens, too, to help with setup.

    Sorry but what about disk images with ssh all set up and ready to go before throwing it from the plane? Most servers I have root on are thousands of kilometers away. The closest is about 600km from this screen and keyboard.

    • by Dekker3D (989692)

      SSDs wouldn't be damaged as much by an impact after a long drop. HDDs would, though.

      As for getting it running and on the internet automatically, I don't think it quite does that yet. Do you want it to be a robot server, seeking its own internet and power cord?

  • Ah, so these are the servers behind those still-functional-after-hundreds-of-years terminals in our future post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland!

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @07:54AM (#42706551)
    They should totally make a movie about this. They could call it Skyfall.
  • Finally, S.H.I.E.L.D. technology released to the general public.

  • Nice Slashvert. (Score:4, Informative)

    by couchslug (175151) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @08:08AM (#42706577)

    I see fans and a more-or-less standard case.

    So fucking what? Build it like a tactical radio, with a cast. finned case with no vents and passive cooling then I'll be impressed.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Falling servers from the sky
    Fearless LANs with bandwidth high
    PCs link by night and day
    Rugged racks in a tough array.

  • by houghi (78078) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @09:05AM (#42706697)

    They can drop it from the sky with a parachute and it will not break? What will they come up next?

    Deployment of the parachute will be the biggest force. A skydyver will have 3-4G for a few seconds. [wikipedia.org]. Military will got to about 8G.

    Considering that the servers will most likely not running, I am sure that the average packing for shipment should be enough. Just see that there are no moving parts and you should be able to get a lot more durability.

    My guess is that the real damage will happen when some person drops it from the table during installation, not when it comes down on a parachute.

    • by bbartlog (1853116)
      I would expect the g forces on impact with the ground to be higher than those on parachute opening, even if they're transient. But overall I agree with your comment: parachute drop is not really the same as 'falling from the sky', and doesn't require much special preparation for the server. Maybe some packing peanuts.
  • Wow, cloud computing is becoming more reliable then ever!
  • by Keruo (771880) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @09:47AM (#42706817)
    Somewhere at DoD:
    Guys, I wanted you to build one thing, ONE thing only and you screwed up!
    I wanted server capable of running SkyDrive, not one capable of Skydive!
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @10:27AM (#42707015) Journal

    I was going to post that the military shock requirements for transport are MIL-810 and that's only a 2m drop on any surf/edge/corner without operational damage, but it turns out, it doesn't even meet that spec without requiring extra packaging:

    "The Bunker XRV-5241 can withstand a free-fall drop of around 1 meter, but for parachute deployment it needs to be packaged into the case for additional protection."

    You know, we can package inertial guidance mechanisms (some of the most shock sensitive components you're likely to ship, which have about 1/5th the shock resistance of a china plate) to meet MIL-810, so if you're going to require that we add special packing to meet the basic transport spec we may as well not spend $4k on this and save the money for packing.

  • From Law and Visas - Good comments Thanks guys
  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @10:53AM (#42707149)

    Dropped from the sky by Parachute is supposed to tell me it's rugged? We had about 300 kids design systems at home to protect eggs dropped from a helicopter when I was highschool. I do not find this impressive.

  • by ClickOnThis (137803) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @02:50PM (#42708857) Journal

    Can't wait to see the "2-hour delivery" radio button on their checkout page.

  • So far, with my inattentive glance through comments, I don't see cat pee mentioned anywhere.
  • Why do they need 500W for a 1U chassis that accommodates only two low voltage (60W for 6 core, 70W for 8 core) Xeons, 4 2.5" drives and 8 DIMM's?

    That's only ~250W of peak load.

    • by Firethorn (177587)

      Why do they need 500W for a 1U chassis that accommodates only two low voltage (60W for 6 core, 70W for 8 core) Xeons, 4 2.5" drives and 8 DIMM's?

      That's only ~250W of peak load.

      TFA says 750 watts? Then again, going by the second site listed, it's redundant, and the exact configuration is probably configurable.

      It was probably cheaper to over-spec - IE a 250W PS would cost more than the 500W, plus the 500W is probably more efficient/requires less cooling.

      If it's 750 watts total, that's 325 per redundant PSU, which is a 'comfortable' but not excessive margin for the peak load you quote. It'd also be about the peak efficiency curve.

  • Somebody flung a Dell Dimension L733r out of the second story into my backyard about 10 years ago. It still worked and still runs a telephony application when needed. The only discernible damage, other than grass stain, was that one of the plastic clips holding the motherboard in place broke. The remaining clips have been sufficient.

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