XS23 Cloud Server

There has been some recent press around some of the equipment we’ve developed in our cloud computing group. The core of our business is essentially a consulting and design service and developing new products for customers is a big part of the fun. Because these aren’t mainstream PowerEdge systems, we don’t get the chance to show them off as much as we’d like. Our group has been talking for some time about “optimized designs” for cloud and hyperscale computing without showing what that can really mean, so it’s time to unveil something that’s come out of the lab.

Pictured here is one of our favorites: the XS23.

XS23 front – twelve 3.5” SAS or SATA drives; 3 per server

This product was designed for a customer that needed maximum compute density, a healthy amount of local disk and, of course, lowest power draw possible. Our architecture team threw all that in the blender and out came a 2U standard rack mount chassis that houses four dual-socket servers and twelve 3.5” hot plug drives.

XS23 exploded view: two dual-socket servers mounted in chassis bottom; two in a mezzanine above. Industry standard rack-mount chassis.

Density of this type is certainly not unheard of (half depth or twin 1U’s), but by going to a 2U chassis we were able to fit it with larger, more efficient fans and stack 3 rows of full 3.5” drives across the front. So, even with a 25% higher density than general purpose blades, it provides three local spindles of 3.5” SAS/SATA disk to each server. Of course there are tradeoffs. This was expressly designed for an environment with high node failure tolerance – a cloud application. By designing out a lot of the capabilities that weren’t required (like redundant power) we were able to deliver the performance and power profile required. Efficiencies are gained by shared resources – as seen in a lot of general purpose designs available today. We think the key to designing the perfect cloud server is knowing where to stop and also what not to build in. This is a function of each customer’s unique design goals. Applications truly capable of foregoing high availability in hardware are somewhat rare, but customers in this space have it – as well as a laser focus on their business levers. So in this case we took the problem statement and made the tradeoffs to yield highest efficiency and density within the performance parameters of the application.

It’s important for me to emphasize that the XS23 is not generally available. This system is qualified and supported for only a handful of specific customer applications and locations; it’s not completely productized to bear a PowerEdge badge. I hope you’ll watch this space for more unique designs and the discussion on cloud taxonomy and architecture that Jimmy’s leading.

About the Author: Todd Brannon