2007-06-18

Server form factors

Pedestal, Rack-Mount and Blades are the common configuration form-factors for server units.

In the quest to maximize computing capacity and minimize floor-space, energy consumption and cooling requirements, Rack-Mount units are generally preferred to Blades. Blades may offer better packaging but they exhibit one distinct shortcoming

  • Shared computing resources. A Switch is included to share Network and I/O among packaged Blade-computing units. When hosting large applications and/or offering Virtual-Hosting, this resource sharing is a problem for which sites generally prefer Rack-Mount units.
The recently announced Sun Blade 6000 offers the packaging advantages of Blade format while configuring ten completely independent servers - no sharing of computing resources among participating server units.

The salient points of this design include the following:
  • More memory and more I/O. Up to double the memory and I/O capacity of competing Blades and Rack-Mount configurations is claimed by Sun
  • Reduced energy requirements. Shared power and cooling saves energy when compared to equivalent Rack-Mount servers
  • Processor choice. AMD Opteron, Intel Xeon and SPARC processor-based server modules, as well as support for Linux, Solaris, and MS Windows operating systems
  • Standard I/O: PCIe Express including support fo 1 and 10 Gigabit Ethernet technology.
A good test is to see if Google, known to use close to 1/2 million Rack-Mount units, switches instead to Blades for use in its many new Datacenters.

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