The most unusual server cases

If you think that there is nothing more boring than server racks filled with identical servers, then you have come to the right place: using this article as an example, we will show you that in the server world there is also a place for a flight of imagination and design ideas. Who knows, after reading this article, you might want to change your data center.

# 1 Case-mount for Apple Mac Pro

The fact that in 2013 Apple gave birth to a computer in the form of a cylinder surprised even seasoned computer observers. Such an unusual shape of the case with a huge fan at the top left the user no choice but to place the Mac Pro on the desktop. You can't put such a computer on its side - it will roll away, you can't put it under the table - Mac Pro, after all, and they didn't even think about the idea of ​​mounting this cylinder in a 19-inch rack, but Sonnet, it would seem, did the impossible: presented the platform 4U height to mount two Mac Pros in a standard telecom cabinet RackMack Pro .

What's important for Apple fans is that the computer doesn't need to be disassembled or modified. It won't even get scratched during installation, so it can be easily sold later. Only USB 3.0 ports are displayed on the front panel, and all other connections using extension cords are brought to the rear. Sonnet also has a solution in which instead of the second Mac Pro, a disk cage and a module for PCI Express expansion cards are installed in the case. For the most part, this is a solution for transporting concert equipment, but if you put it in a data center, you will be provided with increased attention from the system administrators.

# 2 Mount for 4 Mac Mini computers

In general, the idea of ​​installing Apple computers in a server rack has always existed. Apple even released XServe servers for their fans, but, as they say, it didn't work. But for those wishing to install a Mac Mini in a rack, they never experienced discomfort: the industry produced various mounts for them, and today you can install 4 such computers in a 1U rack using the H-Squared case Mini Rack Sliding Rack Shelf .

In general, the case is a simple shelf, even without ventilation and indication. But there is room for a small network switch and three-way cable so as not to pay in the data center for additional ports and sockets.

# 3 Mount for Lenovo computers farm

In general, not only Apple owners are so lucky, and if you need to install workstations in a rack, M1 Manufacturing has case for 8 pieces of Lenovo ThiksStation Workstation .

That is, if you want to put a farm from branded PCs in your office, everything is ready for that.

# 4 1U2N case for Mini ITX

But if the first three, basically, cause a smile and questions "why", then the option of placing two Mini-ITX boards in 1U width is already a serious solution, downright, for any tasks. For example, ASrock Rack has made good progress in the Mini ITX format: they have boards with integrated 8-core processors Xeon D, there are very fast AMD EPYC 32xx . Unfortunately, case manufacturers for the most part do not release anything interesting for such cases, except for the Chinese company CasePro, which has a format solution 1U2N for Mini-ITX, and this is no joke !

Each node in the KI-M550 case is a full-fledged computer that can work separately, lying on the table, what is its advantage over traditional 1U2N and 2U4N cases, where the Backplate is still a point of failure, and the power supplies are not unified.

# 5 - Blade server on Micro ATX

In general, in terms of density, you can go even further by making an analogue of a Blade server, but on Micro ATX. Well, what's wrong with that, because the blades are now experiencing hard times, this format is full of shortcomings and in the modern world is supplanted by multicore servers like . But if today you are building a cluster for OpenStack and Ceph, and you want to use it in Edge-conditions , i.e. a company like BuildBlade offering BB-ATX98 blades and chassis for Micro ATX height 8U.

The company has a full range of accessories: power distributors, DC power supply shelves, and DIY kits. True, their site has not been updated for a long time, so perhaps this startup has already sunk into oblivion.

# 6 Unsuccessful 4U front mount case

This Chinese corpus is sold all over the world under various brands, and this is the most unfortunate design of all that I saw. I cannot explain why the front access model has a power connection - at the back, why there is a huge void in the front left of the motherboard. Indeed, the guys just took it and decided not to do anything in the server case, where every cubic centimeter of volume counts.

5.25-inch bays were installed at the bottom, and even next to each other, so a cage for 3 HDDs of 3.5 '' format There is no way to place a case in a 4U case, but in addition - here's another problem for you: you can't put a GPU board here, since the power connector from the video card will rest against the cover. Well, to the heap, the cooling scheme with 1 fan for the motherboard finishes any idea of ​​serious use of this case.

# 7 Passive cooling case

You will not buy this case separately from your computer Horus428. And how many pleasure to put it in a data center rack, right under your competitors' servers? After all, this is practically a stove created for the military, and therefore has passive cooling.

The temperature from the CPU is directed to the side walls, which are huge radiators. Externally Mounted Fan Unit is available for an additional fee! But this is not necessary - and without it it works. The case has 8 hot-swappable HDD bays, support for the GPU 1660S, work with an external power supply and an excellent blue and white coloring.

# 8 when size matters

If the density of computational blocks is an empty phrase for you, and the ratio of "the number of cores per unit" is already nauseous, you can go the other way and buy the largest server case "non-Blade" format. 9-unit CHENBRO RM91250M-R1620G is designed for installation of 50 hard drives in the same case as the processor. This case violates all the canons of server building, it denies the existence of disk shelves, and presented back in 2013, it is not even optimized for the GPU.

The 9U chassis supports 4-processor SSI MEB motherboards, and interesting features include 4 1620W PSUs, 6 hot-swappable fans, and a dry weight of around 50Kg.

Conclusion

Almost all of the considered server cases were released before 2014, and now they are not on sale. Globalization, together with unification, has left little room for maneuver when building a data center. Therefore, if you want to diversify your home laboratory or test lab with unusual server equipment or bring something new to a dull Edge data center, remember that there is always the possibility of placing servers on the wall. Mounting methods are discussed in our article .

Mikhail Degtyarev (aka LIKE OFF)
12/10.2020


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