Rackable's portable data center goes on sale

The Concentro packs 1,200 servers along with power and cooling equipment in a 40-foot shipping container. Photos: Data center in a box

Rackable Systems has begun selling a data center packed into a modular storage container, getting to market ahead of a rival system from Sun Microsystems.

Called Concentro, the system squeezes as many as 1,200 servers along with power and cooling equipment into a 40-foot shipping container. It can be mounted on a truck for portability. The company argues that it's the bee's knees when it comes to energy efficiency, dense packing of computing power and rapid setup of ordinarily complicated computing gear.

The idea is similar to Sun's Blackbox , but Rackable's shorter servers can face toward the central aisle; Sun's full-length models fit sideways on racks that slide into the aisle. Concentro is available for order now, and the Milpitas, Calif.-based company said it has "several new orders pending."

Sun's rival product isn't far from reality, though. "We're finalizing the first deals. We'll have Blackbox on customer properties in the next six to eight weeks," said Dave Douglas, Sun's vice president of eco-responsibility, at a media event on Friday.

Rackable's Concentro uses Intel's quad-core Xeon 5300 "Clovertown" processors, two of which can fit into each of the 1,200 servers. Concentro also can be used to house storage--as much as 30 terabytes of capacity.

Sun and Rackable both are racing to promote products that simplify data center design. But neither was actually first--at least when it comes to portable data center prototypes. American Power Conversion started rolling around its demonstration system in 2005, a data center on a truck.

Concentro uses direct-current (DC) power , an element in Rackable's energy efficiency.

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About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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