NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Schneider Electric, the French energy distribution and automation giant, is working on a server chassis based on Facebook’s disaggregated rack design to make it easier for the common IT shop to use design concepts Facebook developed for its own data center needs. In parallel, Schneider is also working on an enclosed pod that will house multiple such chassis and supply them with cooling.
Schneider, which for several years has been a member of the Open Compute Project, the open source data center and hardware design initiative Facebook started, has been designing custom chassis based on these concepts for hyperscale data center operators in Asia and Russia, Steve Carlini, senior director of global data center solutions at Schneider, said in an interview with Data Center Knowledge on the sidelines of the Data Center World conference here. The company is making them into products for a more general audience because demand has been growing, he said.
“Our goal is to simplify the deployment of this new OCP architecture,” he said. There’s no definitive target date for launch of the new chassis, but the general expectation is that it will be on the market around the end of this year.
Emerson Network Power, one of Schneider's biggest rivals in the data center market, has had an Open Compute rack on the market for several years. Emerson's rack was based on the first generation of OCP servers.
The chassis is a rack where individual server components, such as CPUs, hard drives, memory, and network cards, share common resources, such as power supply, cooling, and network connectivity. Those components can be swapped out individually, making it possible to upgrade just the CPU if needed, without having to rip and replace an entire server.
Another big difference is power. It enables the user to bring higher voltage directly to the rack instead of stepping it down first. Carlini said Schneider’s chassis will give customers the ability to choose the voltage they bring to the rack and how it gets treated.
The enclosure Schneider is working on will provide cooling for the new chassis and allow the chassis to be rolled in for quick installation, he said.
Earlier this year, Schneider submitted a data center facilities operations framework called Facility Operations Maturity model to OCP.
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Corrected: a previous version of this article said the chassis Schneider is developing will allow customers to bring medium-voltage power to the rack. It has been corrected to say the product will allow higher-voltage power to the rack if the customer chooses to do so.