Rackspace Forges First ‘Barreleye’ Open Power Servers

Rackspace is now in the process of putting together a new megaserver. The company is calling it the “Barreleye”, and it’s got a lot going for it.

The Power8-based “Barreleye” by Rackspace Hosting has finally moved off the drawing board and into the showroom.

Rackspace is now in the process of putting together a new mega server. The company is calling it the “Barreleye”, and it’s got a lot going for it. So what’s all the excitement about? Plenty. Rackspace’s Barreleye is designed to have additional compute threads, a bigger memory size, additional memory bandwidth and more I/O bandwidth.

Last Spring, Rackspace offered up their new vision for a more powerful cloud at the OpenPOWER and Open Compute annual summits. They shared their Barreleye server design concept. The device has affectionately been dubbed the “Barreleye” due to its transparent head which makes the whole thing look interestingly like a barrel with a forward facing eye. Rackspace calls the Barreleye a “mega server.” By this, they mean that it’s designed to have more power than just about anything else currently running.

What makes this unique system board superior, (for a start), is the improved components at the back end. It has got two CPU sockets. The slots mounted on the I/O board travel through it using inert links on the front side of the system board. The idea behind this is to split memory resources from the I/O in the board level from the CPU. This gives Rackspace the ability to upgrade any portion individually while, at the same time, having the ability to mix and match different I/O to accommodate altered workloads. The 2 Power 8 are mounted in the middle and front of the system board, and the voltage regulators are placed on the right and left sides of the Barreleye.

Rackspace is keeping IBM’s mercantile silicon variants of the 2 Power 8 chips, and the two added variations of the “Tourismo” processor. The Tourismo, meanwhile, is being put to use in the single-socket “Habanero” machine which IBM announced earlier this month.

Interestingly, IBM uses a Power 8 SCM in the high-end SMP system mentioned above. This has had an impressive compliment of 12 cores and has been augmented to accommodate its high bandwidth and memory capability. What’s more, it has support for 32 PCI-Express 3.0 lanes.

Rackspace will be beefing up its Barreleye machine with a dozen 32 PCI-Express 3.0 lanes in the base. It will have two switches linking the nodes, two power shelves to provide space for all of the extra gear. It will also have an additional 12 Barreleye servers on top of everything. All told, that adds up to a total of 24TB of mem, 24 servers, and a whopping total of 4,608 threads all in one impressive rack.

The Rackspace team has been working with IBM, Samsung Mellanox, PMC-Sierra and Avago Technologies to assemble the Barreleye machine that they will offer to the Taiwanese company, Ingrasys Technology, as a system integrator for their server. Rackspace spokespersons have declined to name whom they have tapped to help with the design.

As far as Rackspace’s internal use of its own beefy new machine, the company released a statement saying they expect to begin their field trials for non-revenue operations early next year.

Katrina is a leader in the IT industry with innovative ideas and custom solution as a product specialist for Rack Solutions

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