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Open Compute Developing Wider Rack Standard 237

1sockchuck writes "Are you ready for wider servers? The Open Compute Project today shared details on Open Rack, a new standard for hyperscale data centers, which will feature 21-inch server slots, rather than the traditional 19 inches. "We are ditching the 19-inch rack standard," said Facebook's Frank Frankovsky, who said the wider design offered better heat removal and a unified approach to power, including a 12 volt busbar. The Open Compute Project, developed by Facebook to advance open source hardware design, believes an open approach can avoid the mistakes of blade server chassis design."
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Open Compute Developing Wider Rack Standard

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  • metric? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SkunkPussy ( 85271 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @10:58AM (#39878411) Journal

    The first mistake is that they are still talking in inches instead of metric units.

  • 2" shim market (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @11:01AM (#39878457)

    I detect a few years of market window for rails with 1" shims attached (19+2x 1" = 21) to allow old servers to wedge into the new racks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2012 @11:06AM (#39878533)

    Why invent yet another new standard when there's a perfectly good one already in use, with lots of inventory in place?

    Telecom has used 23" racks for years. There are standard adapters already available to mount 19" hardware in a 23" rack. 23" racks are already available in the marketplace.

    Further, why 12Vdc? Telecom has been using DC plant for decades and there is a ton of existing 48Vdc equipment on the market. There area existing cabling standards for all this as well.

    Just seems like an attempt to fracture the market and create an opportunity to solve a problem that's already been solved.

  • Re:metric? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2012 @11:19AM (#39878695)

    Arguing metric vs. imperial units is pretty much the epitome of bikeshedding.
    We can do arithmetic nowadays.

  • by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @11:27AM (#39878811) Journal

    As soneone responsible for machine infrastructure, this is a big deal.
    21" racks means that I have to change the layout of my lab. Currently we have the mandatory 42" aisle (or whatever ADA requires) running the length of the lab, with banks of racks pedistileing (sp?) out from the wall with power and data. If all the racks were 2" wider I'd lose a rack in each row, so unless these machines improve density... it's a no sell for me.

  • Re:metric? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2012 @11:40AM (#39879013) [] Technical issues should use SI units.

    The Mars Climate Orbiter was a case of someone not labeling their units. The unit system wasn't the problem.
    Secondly SI isn't always the best unit of measurement for performing calculations. In plasma physics we use eV in stead of joules for energy because it simplifies our work. In astro physics measuring distances in the SI unit of length, the meter, is impractical. If you are doing anything with relativistic electro magnetism, it's best to do your calculations in cgs because it eliminates useless constants.

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @11:53AM (#39879195) Homepage Journal

    It's not about the resistive losses, mate.

    First, eliminating power supplies at each server eliminates multiple point heat sources. One honking rectifier stack somewhere does the job. Cool that separately, and maybe even more efficient conversions, though the jury is still out on that for me. Honking-er bus bars will not be as efficient as AC distribution, but the losses will be tolerable. Remember the stack? Getting that cooled outside the server room is useful.

    Using 48VDC makes a lot of sense just because there is a pile of telco equipment made to do that, and well understood. It will have to be regulated at the server level anyways, and the current goes down also.

    But then again, it's not about being compatible, nor even evolutionary. This is a revolution, and if the old guard can't be enslaved, it must be killed off. So telco standards are out of the question. Besides, those extra 2 inches.

  • Re:metric? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by richardkelleher ( 1184251 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @12:19PM (#39879449) Homepage

    The first mistake is that they are still talking in inches instead of metric units.

    This was my thought exactly. If we continue to build new standards around obsolete measurement systems we are just pandering to the Luddites. It is time to move America forward into the 19th century. If we can't engineer for the 21st century, we should turn the creation of standards over to people can.

  • Re:metric? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by David Chappell ( 671429 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @01:32PM (#39880095) Homepage

    The first mistake is that they are still talking in inches instead of metric units.

    I would imagine that the reason is that 21 inch racks are already a standard. They are widely used in telephony. Introducing a third standard (say 55 cm racks) would likely complicate things for little gain. Better to just call them 5334 mm racks.

    This has already been done repeatedly in engineering. When I visit Europe (I am an American) I see things in Imperial units all around me, but most of the time nobody but me knows that they are. 6 mm steel cable? Why not 5 mm? Because 6mm is 1/4 inch. While is their 900 grams of buckwheat in this bag rather than 1000 grams? Because it is a two pound bag filled eight grams short. Railway gage in the former Soviet Union? 1524 mm. Yup, thats five feet. See that 1220x2440 mm sheet of plywood. Yup, 4 by 8 feet.

    This by the way is why it is so hard to convince Americans that they should switch the building and engineering trades to the metric system. All our building materials are sized on Imperial units. Converting these dimensions to oddball metric sizes would mean that builders would need to memorizes all sorts of weird dimensions and carry pocket calculators to figure out where the center of something is. There have been many serious attempts to do engineering projects in metric units. First they find out that they can't get materials in even metric dimensions. Then the vendors ask what they mean when they order 914.4 mm doors. Then the builders ask to have the drawings converted into 'the real measurements'. It begins to seem too much like masocism and on the next project they go back to units everybody understands.

    Many professions and markets have converted to metric in the US. Medicine mostly has. So has alcohol distribution. So have laboratories. So have our automobiles. But, I don't see any way for the building trades to convert.

    The metric system is clearly superior in scientific contexts. There the argument about ease of conversion is powerful. However this argument is meaningless in daily life. The only unit conversion the average person does is feet to inches. You don't need to know how many feet are in a mile in order to know whether you are exceeding the speed limit.

    I have found one use for metric units in daily life: increasing ones 'geek cred'. Since expressing dimensions in metric units is a form of elitist obfuscation, it is a great way to be annoying.

  • Re:metric? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2012 @01:53PM (#39880303)

    But units wouldn't need to be labeled if everybody used the same system. The continued existence of the zombie Imperial system is the root cause of the problem.

    Which is why SI has a number of accepted units []. You'll note that both the eV and the astronomical unit are there, but not the feet or yards used by Lockheed to send a rocket past Mars.

    ALWAYS LABEL UNITS! This was the ONLY cause of the problem with the mars orbiter. If Lockheed used kilometers as their units instead and Nasa assumed meters the probe still would have had problems. If I tell you I have an energy of 5 does that mean 5 eV or J? You don't know if I don't label it.

  • Re:metric? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @02:53PM (#39880917) Journal

    Imperial units are much easier in some cases, being divisible by a whole bunch of numbers not easily divisible on metric. What happens when you have a one meter (M) whole unit, that you need to divide into 1/3? The nice thing about imperial units, is that typically they are easily divisible by 2, 3, 4 (6, 8, 12) while metric units are not. 1/3 of a meter is how much exactly? 2/3 of a liter?

    Metric is nice and elegant, so don't get me wrong, but imperial has its own elegance.

  • Re:metric? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shompol ( 1690084 ) on Thursday May 03, 2012 @05:09PM (#39882981)

    Secondly SI isn't always the best unit of measurement for performing calculations.

    While Imperial units are always the worst.

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl