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Oct 01 2015

Mix & Match: New PRIMECENTER Server Racks and Power Distribution Units


Server racks are often considered the dullest parts of a data center. After all, what should be interesting about pieces of furniture that typically look like someone had allowed IKEA designers to cast their artistic visions in steel? At second glance, however, they turn out to be far more sophisticated than most people expect – and hence more relevant for building modern DC infrastructures. Fujitsu's new PRIMECENTER M2 rack family is a perfect example.

Like so many infrastructure components, typical server racks as we know them today first emerged during the 1980s and 1990s. Back then, they offered little more than an option to store servers in a fixed position, put them on rails if needed, and/or simplify power supply and cabling. Today, these basic functionalities are still at the core, while at the same time racks are often forced to get smart and incorporate new security and management capabilities you wouldn't expect before. Fujitsu's PRIMECENTER M2 series of racks combines tried and tested technology with a variety of innovative and useful features, many of which are based on suggestions we heard from our customers and channel partners. Technically, the development was fueled by the overarching trends towards consolidation and optimization of infrastructure elements that go along with the megatrend towards virtualization.

Standard and Optional Features
PRIMECENTER Racks were designed to form the basis for building perfect data center infrastructures. To achieve this, they meet all classic 19-inch rack standards while offering a broad set of configuration options. Different rack frames and a variety of rails allow for efficient installation of servers, switches, PSUs, cabling, and management consoles. At the same time, an 83% 'perforation rate' of side and back planes and front doors ensures the best possible airflow and high heat dissipation, and our innovative tool-less design makes mounting and unmounting single components especially simple. Thus, the new racks will not only accommodate Fujitsu hardware to a tee, but may also be fitted with third-party products.

So much for the obvious. Other improvements aren't quite as easy to spot. For example, lightweight aluminum frames turn transportation and setup into a breeze and cause less stress on typical raised DC floors. Likewise, an integrated tilt restraint at the front side renders the entire rack structure more stable. Thanks to heavy duty castors, filled racks can be moved around easily and will even cope with 6° ramps, while two swivels prevent them from rolling around at random. Needless to say, the new racks have undergone comprehensive safety tests against international standards like EN 60950 or IEC 529 for proper grounding and protection against insertion of larger objects as well as access to hazardous parts. Extra security features include lockable front and rear doors with built-in 'authenticate-and-lock/unlock' mechanism (cf. Fig. 1 below) – a special solution based on Fujitsu's PalmSecure ID Match technology – and an integrated Rack Monitoring Systems (RMS) that helps admins check the status of the entire structure and single components. Another issue that could cause harm and stress among administrators and technicians alike is haphazard cabling – which is why we added extra cable compartments at the front sides and the bottom, a top carrier kit for cable routing, and cable arms plus brush strips to secure the wires in their intended position (all optional).


Fig. 1

Fig. 1: Electronic Door Lock on PRIMECENTER M2 Racks


Power Distribution and Management
Another topic that's been known to cause IT departments and data center chiefs severe headaches is power distribution within racks. Traditionally, most racks were equipped with simple power distribution units (PDUs) that served no purpose other than the obvious and had a very limited feature set. While these may still suffice in many scenarios, there's also a constantly growing group of users who demand that PDUs be nearly as smart as the compute equipment itself. And in fact, intelligent power distribution provides several advantages over traditional 'dumb' equipment such as the capability to measure power draws, remotely check power states and alert admins based on threshold values. That's why we teamed up with Emerson Network Power, a leading provider of infrastructure technologies for ICT systems, to furnish our next-gen racks with matching PDUs. As a result, customers can now choose between these options:

  • Emerson MPE™ PDUs are basic models that offer classic, no-frills power distribution features. These PDUs are built from long-lived components and sit inside a robust housing with tried-and-tested safety mechanisms; the only 'extras' included are colored brackets that help mark PDU feeds and phases, and a rocker-style hydraulic magnetic circuit breaker for overcurrent protection.
  • Metered PDUs from the MPH2™ B series are just as robust and reliable, but deliver a wide variety of additional features, among them the above-quoted power measurement function, remote management via LAN, and a connector to external probes and sensors that automatically flips the switch if temperatures and humidity get too high or someone touches the rack doors. Metered PDUs are compatible with ambient temperatures of 50 to 60 °C and offer best-in-class (meaning: extremely low) power losses of 5 W per unit. Overcurrent protection can either be handled traditionally via hydraulic magnetic circuits or in a more modern way using a specially crafted software module. To simplify management and maintenance and further enhance security, each of these PDUs features an internal or optionally external display for key operation values (e.g. temperatures), a hot-swappable RPC2 communications module to enable central rack management (via console, LAN or Web interface), and secure user authentication and management with AES. What's more, we also plan to integrate rack management capabilities into upcoming releases of our ServerView® Suite.
  • Finally, managed PDUs from the MPH2™ R series provide the same functionality as their B series counterparts, plus input and output measurements (power draw per phase and per outlet) and remote power switching per outlet (off, on or scheduled).

Other relevant features are basically identical across the board: each new PDU is available as a single or triple phase model, has a 3 m (10 ft.) power cord with flexible cable entry, and may be installed vertically or horizontally, if necessary with the help of an optional snap-in mechanism.

Model Portfolio and Sizes
First-generation PRIMECENTER racks were available in seven different sizes and two setup types – symmetrical and asymmetrical. This left users with a lot of configuration options; however, demand for the smallest 16U rack has decreased steadily, and we also heard from customers and channel partners that their standard 600 to 700 mm width and 1,050 mm depth often did not leave enough space for PDUs and cabling. Therefore, we decided to rearrange the portfolio and alter the racks' dimensions. Consequently, the new PRIMECENTER models now fall into three different sizes and weight classes:

  • "Small" racks measure 24U or 1,200 mm in height, 600 mm in width and 1,100 mm in depth; their full weight amounts to 562 kilograms (roughly 1240 lbs. or half a ton) with a 480 kilogram payload. These configurations were designed for office environments and data centers where space is tight.
  • Standard racks measure 42U/2,000 mm x 600 mm x 1,200 mm and can carry a 1,000 kilogram payload, resulting in a maximum total weight of 1,500 kg (approx.. 2,200 and 3,300 lbs.).
  • Big racks for high demands belong to the same weight class as the standard models and offer identical height and depth. However, at 800 mm they're 33.3% wider so they may contain six vertical 1U slots for PDUs and/or cabling. As a result, it is now possible to meet all extra space requirements within a symmetrical rack structure, and asymmetrical setups are not needed any longer.

Availability and pricing
PRIMECENTER M 2 racks have been available for order since September 25 and will ship from October 2 onward. The same goes for managed and metered PDUs and accessories (mounting kits etc.) that were already included in our September price list. Basic PDUs and further accessories will be available by the end of October. Prices vary according to configuration and region. For more details, please visit the rack and PDU product pages, where you will also find the data sheets..

Henning Detmers


About the Author:

Henning Detmers

Marketing Assistant at Fujitsu EMEIA.


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