Rackable Plans Air-Cooled Version of Container

The interior of one of Rackable's ICE Cube containers.

The interior of the Rackable ICE Cube container.

Rackable Systems (RACK) says it plans to introduce an air-cooled version of its ICE Cube data center container in the first quarter of 2009, hoping to expand the market for its portable data center.

In the company’s third-quarter earnings call, CEO Mark Barrenechea said Rackable didn’t sell any ICE Cube units in the third quarter, but has purchase orders for about $16 million in containers for delivery during the fourth quarter. Barrenechea said that “adoption is beginning now” for the ICE Cube with the 4Q orders, which are likely related to a federal government container contract announced earlier this year.

“Our goals certainly were $20 million to $50 million revenue related to the ICE Cubes (for 2008) and at this point we’re sort of anticipating being on the lower end of that range,” Barrenechea said in Monday’s earnings call with analysts.

Rackable uses water cooling for the ICE Cube, one of the early entries in a fast-growing new product category for data center containers. The air-cooled version is designed to offer deployment options in scenarios where water hookups may not be readily available.

“If you’re doing new data center construction, we think the water-based solution provides the optimal efficiencies both for density and power reduction,” Barrenechea said. “If you’re looking for more disaster recovery or mobility, (the air cooled container has) one less connection you need to make. A water-power-network (configuration) now gets reduced to network and power.”

Rackable is also developing a “new and radical UPS design” for its ICE Cube units, Barrenechea said. “The current UPS systems are centralized, overbuilt and expensive with no ability to tune the power requirements to a server, cabinet or application,” he said. “We think there is a better way. The better way is to decentralize and create an inexpensive approach inserting passive charging battery technology into each cabinet.”

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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