Fujitsu rethinks data centre cooling with cloud rack design

Fujitsu unveils its new Cool-Central architecture to save on floor space and eliminate hot and cold aisle setups.

IT managers can now position server racks back-to-back or start their floor plans with their first row of racks pushed up against the data centre room wall, resulting in huge savings in floor space, according to Fujitsu.

The company's new Primergy CX1000 Cloud eXtension server, launched recently at Phantasialand in Brühl near Cologne, Germany, is specifically designed for use in cloud computing and large-scale out environments, ideally by cloud service providers.

The x86 server platform, codenamed "Ben Nevis" after Scotland's mountain with reputation of being the cloudiest location in the world, is an innovation in rack and infrastructure design, not in server innovation, according to Dr. Joseph Reger, chief technology officer of Fujitsu. He said the CX1000 illuminates the need for the traditional hot and cold aisle setup and allows two machines to be placed back to back, due to the company's Cool-Central architecture.

The cloud has ridden in on the back of cost saving, and radical solutions are needed for technology to match these aspirations.


Daniel Lowe, managing director of UK Solutions,

According to Daniel Lowe, managing director of UK Solutions, a U.K. data centre service provider, Fujitsu's move is understandable given the increased financial pressure due to the recession and the growing demands of clients.

"The steady progress of cloud services moving from the marketing hype into a reality is driving the need to deliver raw processing power and storage for the least possible capital and operational expense. The cloud has ridden in on the back of cost saving, and radical solutions are needed for technology to match these aspirations," Lowe said.

Data Centre Cooling architecture
Hot air, which is usually blown out through the space behind the racks, is released through two large fans on top of the unit. With a closed-off back, all networking cables are positioned on the front (to the side) of the rack design, leaving a space in the back of the rack for air to move freely upwards. An internal chimney design, consisting of several different sized holes, funnels hot air through the top of the standard size rack. This leaves the IT manager with the option of connecting the fans to the air conditioning system and blowing the hot air straight out of the data centre room.

Consisting of 38 server nodes as part of 38 "cookie trays," Reger explained how the CX1000 fits into Fujitsu's cloud services strategy. This strategy includes the company's full portfolio of products, solutions and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Fujitsu revealed how it is using these systems in its own data centres as a way of creating an environment where the vendor can eventually offer its own IaaS services to customers.

Lowe said Fujitsu should be commended for offering this new approach in the current market, but also pointed out that "customers need to be mindful that if the cloud computing trend continues to grow, as predicted by many industry experts and analysts, then they'll have to decide their priorities -- cost and speed over quality and service."

The server nodes do not have a power supply or a fan. Instead of putting a power supply on each rack, Fujitsu has opted for a central power supply that in turn feeds each rack.

The unit comes as a basic design, in which extras can be tailored and added to fit customers' needs -- those that wish to utilise infiniband, for example. Each node is a 1U server, which includes a motherboard with two sockets for Intel's new Xeon 5600 processors. Each of these nodes also support one or two SAS or SATA hard drives and dual Gigabit Ethernet connectors. Despite being configured for Ethernet a PCI Express Card is included, to utilise Fibre Channel if need be. It can be configured with 16Gb or 64Gb of memory.

The list price starting at $89,000, and the price tag increases with CPUs, storage and memory.

The rack design also lacks a cabinet door; it has been devised to do away with the need for full system redundancy and hot pluggable components. This is built on an off-the-shelf component idea in order to replace individual server nodes in case of a system failure. Based on fully virtualised system environments, a nonresponsive server's services are switched to another server, via software, and then restarted. The dead server can be removed by fully extracting the "cookie tray" and replacing it with a temporary spare.

Despite being able to disassemble the unit, tray by tray, Reger made clear that it comes as a complete unit.

"We've gone back to basics and no, you can't have it half full!" he said. "It doesn't come half-populated. It comes as a unit."

Jens-Peter Seick, senior vice president of the x86 server product unit, said some IT managers are religious about their air flow strategies and how many different servers they like to manage.

"If you like to manage several different servers, because that's what you like to do and why you became an IT manager, then this data centre design isn't for you. If you love standardisation and a design that enables you to get on with other parts of the business, then this is something for you to consider," Seick said.

Intel Xeon 5600 series
Intel launched its new Xeon 5600 series, which can be included in Fujitsu's new unit, on the same day as the CX1000 launch. Codenamed Westmere and the next generation to its Nehalem-EX processor, it was unveiled by Intel's Raejeanne Skillern, director of cloud computing marketing, who said it's not her job to cross out the word grid and replace it with the term cloud.

"We design our processors for the cloud. We try to be a system-level partner…we want to enable products to run in this type of environment. It's what's under the hood that counts," she said.

According to Skillern, a single Xeon 5600 series-powered rack can replace 15 racks of single core Xeon servers (launched back in 2005).

Microsoft and Dell try to steal Fujitsu's cloud thunder
Hot on Fujitsu's heels, however, is a chief rival. Dell has also released a number of new hardware and software service offerings optimised for enterprise cloud computing environments. At a recent event in San Francisco, Dell launched new servers, a new partner programme and new services designed to aid businesses in migrating to the cloud. Its cloud server product combines Dell servers and services with Web application software from Joyent.

In addition, Dell has unveiled its PowerEdge C-Series servers, for environments such as high-performance computing and cloud computing. This server family includes three products: C1100 for clustered computing environments, the C2100 for data analytics and cloud storage, and the C6100, which is a four node cluster system.

Kayleigh Bateman is the Site Editor of

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