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What hardware can I use in an Open19 rack?

Open19 is a partnership that guides organizations to use open source rack servers. The organization's cages, power shelves and network switches make upgrades easy.

The Open19 system provides a means of retrofitting existing 19-inch rack infrastructure with gear that supports rapid server installation and replacement with little -- if any -- separate power and network cabling requirements.

In addition to simplifying data center assembly, the Open19 project's goal is to make it easier for companies to build edge infrastructure with open source hardware. An Open19 rack is comprised of three primary components: a brick cage, a power shelf and a network switch.

The brick cage is little more than a sheet metal structure with pre-defined openings for an array of bricks, as well as pre-arranged locations for power and network cabling. There are currently two cage heights: 12 RU or 21-in high and 8 RU or 14-in high.

All cages are the same width and mount into existing 19-inch racks. This way, each brick can easily slide into a corresponding cage opening and match with a power or data cable  without needing to separately install cabling.

There are four brick styles in the Open19 standard. Admins can convert rack cages to accommodate a variety of bricks. A typical brick server is a 1U half-width enclosure that supports up to 400 watts of power. The double-wide brick server is a 1U full-width enclosure designed for 800 watts. The double-high half-wide brick server is 2U high and half wide and uses up to 800 watts. Lastly, the double-high full-width brick server is 2U high and the width of a full cage that supports up to 1,600 watts of power.

These brick form factors allow for a wide range of actual server types and capabilities, from low-end web servers to high-end computational workhorses. With brick form factors, there is no definition or limitation the brick's contents. The Open19 rack standard has no requirements for processors, memory, disks or graphics processing units.

To power cages, local power shelves are compatible with a series of modular power supplies. There are currently two power shelf capacities: a 9.6 kW, 1U shelf and a 19.2 kW, 2U shelf.

A single 9.6 kW power shelf can support two cages, but high-end bricks may need a 19.2 kW power shelf. Each power shelf design accepts varied AC or DC inputs and delivers 12 volts DC to power each brick. Power shelves are resilient and configured to support configuration management, which allows admins to oversee server shelf availability and efficiency. The shelf mounts onto a standard 19-inch rack.

Finally, the Open19 rack includes high-speed network switches to support 50 Gigabit Ethernet for each server brick, with the possibility of additional capacity. The Open19 network switches, which connect to a 19-in rack, offer 800 Gigabit Quad Small Form-factor Pluggable connectors for links to other non-Open19 gear.

This was last published in March 2019

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