SGI Adopts ‘Universal’ Container Approach

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SGI expanded its data center container offerings Thursday, introducing new models that can house different server form factors and brands. The new Universal class of ICE Cube modular data centers will accommodate all SGI server and storage systems, including full-depth servers in addition to the half-depth Rackable brand servers that had been the original focus of the ICE Cube design. SGI will also introduce an air-cooled version of the container in addition to the chilled-water models.

The expanded design clears the way for SGI to offer containers packed with its Altix ICE, Altix UV, COPAN and InfiniteStorage lines, in addition to Rackable products. The Universal ICE Cube will also work with third-party servers and storage. The new approach may broaden the appeal of the ICE Cube line at a time when adoption of containers appears to be expanding beyond its original target markets.

Better Targeting of Vertical Markets
“Our new Universal ICE Cube data centers extend SGI’s leadership in modular data center innovation, allowing us to offer our customers greater flexibility in design and deployment,” said Rick Chapek, SGI senior vice president of hardware engineering. “SGI can now offer targeted ICE Cube configurations across vertical markets that span technical computing, federal government and defense, oil and gas, and Internet, meeting customer specific application and deployment needs.”

SGI joins IBM, Verari and HP among the vendors offering data center containers that can house third-party gear. The data center container market is attractive to server vendors as a form factor supporting large volume sales of their equipment. But customers like choice, and want the ability to mix and match gear from different vendors.

SGI’s  new models include a 40-foot container packed with 46,080 computing cores in 16 ultra-tall 60U racks, which can each support power densities of 45kW a rack. In storage configurations, SGI will offer a 40-foot container with a 24 x 49U rack configuration, supporting up to 29.8 PB of storage capacity.

New Dual Row Models
SGI will continue to offer dual-row ICE Cube models optimized for Rackable half-depth servers, which can now also support two additional standard-depth cabinets, which will allow customers to combine Rackable servers with a wide variety of storage, server and networking equipment.

“By deploying advanced cooling technologies and integrating standard-depth racks that can support a wide variety of server and storage solutions, these new ICE Cube designs provide customers with the flexibility that they require to support a diverse set of applications across their data centers,” said Michelle Bailey, research vice president for Enterprise Platforms and Datacenter Trends, IDC.

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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