Dell Provides Radio Frequency Shielding Technology for Mobile App Development & Testing

Digital transformation. It’s both a buzz word and the market reality that we live in today. But it’s not companies that are driving this change. It’s the customer. Customers expect relevant content anytime, anywhere and on any device of their choosing. With fast mobile connections and the promise of 5G, it’s only going to become more common to see people surfing the Internet and accessing apps everywhere they go. Consumers downloaded 194 billion mobile apps to their connected devices in 2018[1] and mobile apps are projected to generate more than $935 billion in revenue via paid downloads and in-app advertising in 2023.[2]

While you’d probably expect a Dell blog to address how we’re helping organizations embrace these digital trends with new compute/storage/networking products or solutions, we’re going to change things up this time. Today we’re going to talk about how we’re addressing the world of mobile devices and app development & testing with Dell’s RF Secure Rack Enclosure. This rack enclosure is designed to facilitate mobile device testing in a controlled WiFi environment. [You read that right. Let’s switch gears and get ready to talk about radio frequency and electromagnetic interference [EMI]).

While our digitally connected world creates new customer experiences and revenue opportunities for companies, it can also create some significant obstacles to overcome from an app development & testing perspective. Whether testing phones, tablets, fitness trackers, VR headsets, etc. you need to isolate the devices and block EMI in the WiFi radio frequencies to eliminate any cross-talk that can put testing to a standstill. Often times companies testing at scale are doing this in huge EMI chambers that can be room size or bigger, filled with various devices and IT equipment.

Example of mobile devices on a slide tray

Here’s where the Dell RF Secure Rack Enclosure is different. We’ve built a RF shielded enclosure around a standard 42U IT rack, meaning organizations can put mobile devices and standard IT equipment inside the rack and control it so inside WiFi signals cannot escape the rack and vice versa (WiFi signals outside the rack cannot enter). For organizations doing testing at scale, you can add rows of the Dell RF Secure Rack Enclosure into your datacenter environment and each enclosure will be treated as an isolated test unit.

Going from large EMI chambers to designing a rack size solution wasn’t easy, but we purposely designed the RF Secure Rack Enclosure for both office and datacenter environments. The standard 600mm rack width preserves row density and eases datacenter deployments. At the same time, the 84-inch rack height, aluminum construction and acoustic design means the enclosure is short, light and quiet enough to fit under most door frames, onto elevators and operate in office environments.

Thermals were another key consideration in the design since the RF Secure Rack Enclosure can house dozens, hundreds or even up to 1,000 mobile devices. Because small, deep holes are good for RF shielding, but bad for airflow, we took a different thermal approach. The enclosure features a large, continuous EMI-tight vent that minimizes airflow impedance and eliminates thermal dead zones. We combined this with four variable speed fans that distribute cool air over the devices.

From a power perspective, customers have different requirements and they want the option to power their rack from either the top or the bottom. While that’s normally easy enough to address, with RF shielding racks there are concerns about breaking the EMI seal, adding height to the rack structure and creating complexity for the customer. We addressed these concerns by permanently installing a power filter at the top of the rack enclosure and providing customers with the option to get power from the bottom by just plugging in an outlet.

Also unique to Dell in the RF shielding space is our experience engineering, integrating, configuring, deploying and installing rack technology. The RF Secure Rack Enclosure can ship pre-integrated with IT, arriving to customers fully built, ready to be rolled in and turned on. We’re also able to leverage our supply chain scale to meet large RF shielding capacity needs.

The Dell RF Secure Rack Enclosure is the latest example of the rack capabilities coming from the Extreme Scale Infrastructure (ESI) team. Check out the above video from our lead engineers and reach out to your sales representative if you’d like to learn more. We’d enjoy the opportunity to discuss use cases, technical details and our additional capabilities that are unique to serving the needs of this market.

[1] Worldwide; App Annie © Statista; 2016 to 2018; iOS App Store, Google Play and third party data.

[2] Worldwide; iReasearch © Statista; 2014 to 2018; combined mobile in-app advertising and paid app revenue.

About the Author: Julie Metting

Julie Metting is part of the Extreme Scale Infrastructure (ESI) product management team that focuses on enabling unique / emerging server solutions and driving new technologies into dynamic markets. Julie’s been in the technology industry for nearly 15 years and has held a variety of positions including product management, product marketing and communications.