Ever since Apple discontinued the Xserve, network administrators have had to come up with creative ways to build new OS X based servers. You can still purchase a Mac Mini with OS X Server on it, but one Mac Mini isn’t enough to support some hardcore server needs.
Steve was trying to put together a Macintosh processing based rack, but when he couldn’t find any XServes in the marketplace, he decided to come up with his own homemade solution – stuff 160 Mac minis into a custom made rack. The end result is brilliant.
With 160 Mac Mini’s, Steve’s rack now has 640 real cores or 1280 if you count HyperThreading. To tackle his server problem, Steve started by constructing a 1U shelf that would hold four Mac Minis. One he had shelves that could hold four Mac Minis at once, the next challenge was to manage the exhaust air of each Mini. By using plastic inserts to control airflow, Steve was able to make sure exhaust wasn’t sucked into the intake of an adjacent Mini.
To dissipate heat, Steve then created a custom cooling door by welding four car radiator fans to a door and connected them to a 40A DC motor controller. The 160 Mac minis are powered from a Power Distribution Unit with four Minis hooked up to one Y cable on their shelf. The end result is a professional looking rack that can replace a rack of Xserves and can be upgraded in the future.