This week SGI announced a new twist on their racks-in-a-trailer solution, ICE Cube ‘Universal’. In the bad old days before the Universal ICE Cube, you were fairly limited with what you could get SGI to slot into their modular computing solution. With today’s announcement, however, not only can you get all the server-oriented kit that SGI makes in a trailer, you can also bring your own
Universal containers open the door for ICE Cube to easily support all SGI server and storage systems, including Altix ICE, Altix UV, Rackable, COPAN and InfiniteStorage lines, in addition to heterogeneous, third-party systems. The company’s long-established Dual Row class of ICE Cube has also been enhanced to better support heterogeneous equipment.
“Our new Universal ICE Cube data centers extend SGI’s leadership in modular data center innovation, allowing us to offer our customers greater flexibility in design and deployment,” said Rick Chapek, SGI senior vice president of hardware engineering. “SGI can now offer targeted ICE Cube configurations across vertical markets that span technical computing, federal government and defense, oil and gas, and Internet, meeting customer specific application and deployment needs.”
The speeds and feeds of your fully loaded container will obviously vary with what you put in it, but SGI says you can get up to 46,080 cores and 29.8 petabytes (PB) of storage in its Universal Class container, and get your PUE down to a limbo-contest-winning 1.12. And SGI says that its added two new Dual Row ICE Cube models built for Rackable’s enterprisey half-depth servers.
I’ll say this for SGI CEO Barrenechea: the man knows how to make the inside of a shipping container look wicked cool.
Now, as to who is buying them? Different story. I can’t get anyone who makes these things on record with hard numbers. The best I’ve gotten officially is “less than 70” or “the low tens of units” sold by individual companies. When I bring the topic up, whatever company I’m talking with always says that the market is still maturing, but they see a lot of promise “on the horizon.” The argument is that people will move to containers with a frequency that is closer to how often they build out a datacenter, rather than a typical IT refresh. If that’s right, that’s a pretty long time to spend waiting for someone to buy your product.
If you’re hankering for a Universal Class container, however, SGI says you’ll have to wait until Q3.