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What the inside of a container data center looks like

Sun Project BlackboxThere has been a lot of talk about container data centers lately (sometimes also called modular data centers). Most of the time we are only presented with an image of a branded shipping container, but let’s face it, all the interesting stuff is on the inside!

So, since we were curious, we here at Pingdom dug through various product pages and presentations to find pictures of the insides of container data centers. As you will see, different manufacturers have very different approaches to building these things.

We have included pictures from Rackable’s ICE Cube 40-foot container data center, and Sun’s 20-foot Project Blackbox (recently redubbed to the slightly less appealing “Sun Modular Datacenter S20”), along with some basic specs for those interested.

Project Blackbox

  • 20’ x 8’ shipping container
  • 8 racks (7 racks with a total of 280 rack units available for servers)

Blackbox
Blackbox
Blackbox

The ICE Cube

  • 40’ x 8’ shipping container (there is also a 20’ option)
  • 28 racks (with 1,400 rack units available for Rackable’s half-depth servers)

ICE cube
ICE cube
ICE cube
ICE cube

It should be mentioned that there are also other options for container data centers, such as the FOREST data center from Verari (which probably looks entirely different inside as well).

Judging by recent news, it looks like container data centers aren’t just a fad, but have come to stay. Sun has been pushing Project Blackbox a lot, and Rackable has stated that they expect to ship 20-50 container units in 2008. Microsoft will be using between 150-220 container units to build up their Chicago data center, possibly from several different providers. Perhaps others will follow suit?

Images courtesy of Sun and Rackable.



25 comments
Mark
Mark

So this is for when Amazon.com needs a backup? ;P

curtis
curtis

So who would use this? Would this be in the event of a disaster? Or is more for military/CIA hush-hush operations?

ok
ok

good site amgnzs

slicerman10
slicerman10

cool, I'm still interested in a laptop, though, cause I mean, ya can't very well take one of these over to a friend's house, but still, cool post!

eltopo
eltopo

yeah, the main point was to have a cheap datacentre wherever. so movie sets, warzones / camps, start-ups, cheap land deals, cheap electricity deals.. I don't think they're a great idea for permanent deployment, though. If you have security on your parking lot at work, it might be an idea, but hundreds of cat5 cables running into a big box on your front proch might tip people off, that there's a lot of money there.

Simon Rain
Simon Rain

I was thinking the other way around. There isn't a lot of work needed to add new containers. You don't have hire a whole construction crew to redesign your data center or build an extension to your building to house new servers. I think I can see a very practical use especially with startup companies and their possible very short lifetime or popularity explosion. And if the company fails, Sun and Rackable can rent them and as soon as people can't pay anymore, they just comeback and roll it away.

Name
Name

ob. Imagine aa Beowulf cluster of these.

Mike
Mike

B U T Full!!.. I'll take 2.... :D (In my wildest dreams...)

Anonymous
Anonymous

The Sun "Blackbox" is not actually black. The demo above is the only black one.

wherewillwhy william moore
wherewillwhy william moore

holy crap batman i want 2 sh*t gimme 5 min and a leatherman hehe sun microsystems is the sh%t, my dream job !

Brian
Brian

We had a demo of one of these at work today. They are not painted black - that's just for the sexy look. When delivered they are white. Cost is about $500K. All you need is power and water. There are redundant hookups on both sides. Very impressive. They said they ar being used on moviesets for onsite rendering. bk2

Tim
Tim

Solar energy is around 700 watts/square meter. The effect of solar heating is negligible compared to the waste heat output by a rack full of machines.

logistyka
logistyka

wow it is sooooo interesting post !

Anonymous
Anonymous

Why is it painted black? Solar heating alone will be a problem. I'm sure if they painted it white they would cut the cost for the AC tremendously.

Lamont
Lamont

Those both look great, but I'd put my money on the Sun system. Every rackable system I've ever bought has had horrible build quality, terrible components and been a total pain in my ass. They spend more time on lighting effects and the marketing on the outside of the container than they do on making systems that don't go down if you bump them slightly.

d legal
d legal

That's so awesome! Growing up I always wanted a laptop but now a I want one of these babies. I wonder what the power bill would be for having one of these run at full capacity for a month.

Jay Cuthrell
Jay Cuthrell

@Jasper: You get started at just around $450k configured but as with anything... the more you fill it, the higher the price.

Diogo
Diogo

The ICE Cube looks like a sci-fi film prop. Remembers me of Universal Soldier, somehow.

Jay Cuthrell
Jay Cuthrell

I figure if Sun Modular Datacenter is the semi tractor trailer business, then companies like Elliptical Mobile Solutions [1] are in the luxury sedan business. Now, who is going to be in the valet and parking deck business? :) [1] http://www.ellipticalmedia.com/spear.htm

Jasper
Jasper

Impressive stuff. I want one of those in my back yard... :D I wonder what they cost?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] wasn’t aware of the concept of container datacenters  until I came across this article on the interiors of them. Thinking about it, I can see the benefit of a self-contained unit: land [...]

  2. [...] post info By dpixel8 Categories: Architecture, Consumerisms, Design, Dpixel8 posts more than just an image, Hacks, art and business I know a few architects around the world are working on designing living spaces to use these over abundant shipping containers, but this is a neat concept as well. These things can be had fairly cheap ($1,500 or so, but possibly more as of late with the rising cost of steel) and this is yet another great idea to recycle. Shipping containers modified to be data centers. [...]

  3. [...] I’ve run data centers for years, and I admire a well-kept one, or at least one that uses space and hardware in a clever fashion. But I’ve never seen one this big that was fully mobile. [...]

  4. [...] 一些有创新意识的工程师意识到,数据中心并不必须得是静止的。 Sun对Project Blackbox 进行了改进,让数据中心设备展开速度比以前更快,压缩度也比以前更高。 [...]