3D printing will form the basis of future data centers

    Nike uses 3D printers to produce soccer shoes. Doctors - for prosthetics. Ford and GM to prototype brake pads, levers and other parts. This new type of industrial equipment is capable of reproducing any material object, at least theoretically it can.

    It is not surprising that the world of technology is now trying to apply 3D printing to build data centers. IO, at its plant in Chandler, Arizona, uses 3D printers to prototype data center modules - original giant legos. Almost as easy as GM and Ford, IO can shape, test and modify prototypes of cars. “This significantly speeds up the process and makes it more flexible,” says Andreas Zoll, vice president of the company.

    The idea of ​​a modular data center was born at Google about a decade ago. Instead of designing each of its data centers from scratch, the search giant began to use the so-called container construction. They are based on ordinary containers for transportation, including computing, cooling and electrical equipment, configured for coordinated work. Using rail, road and sea transport, Google was able to move them around the world and put them together on one site. This was a way to speed up not only the construction process itself, but also to increase the efficiency of such modules.

    A few years later, many adopted this simple approach to designing data centers. Microsoft uses modular data centers to host its web services, many hardware manufacturers now sell modular solutions, and many enterprises, in turn, can use them to build their own data centers. Among manufacturers, giants such as Dell and HP, along with IO, whose equipment is now used by one of the largest commercial banks in the world, Goldman Sachs.

    In the past, when IO was just developing modules, it was necessary to involve various component manufacturers in order to get the desired prototype. For the production of even a tiny lamp bracket at the top of the module, the company had to spend hundreds of dollars and wait two to three weeks for the prototype to arrive. But they recently used a Makerbot 3D printer to speed things up. Now, as Zoll said, we can get a small part, say a bracket, for a maximum of a couple of hours, in time this is comparable to a lunch break. Such a product would cost the company 75 cents, of course, not including the cost of the printer, which costs several thousand dollars. “The beauty of this technology is that it can reproduce a potentially complex object without involving specialized organizations, giving this process to companies,

    The company can manufacture the basic design according to the drawings using the CAD system. After creating a model by a 3D printer, and the creation process can be imagined as overlaying one layer of molten plastic on another, the possibilities of this technology become more obvious. “Instead of studying the part in a graphical editor, we can quickly print it out and look at it live, this is an amazing opportunity. By creating a layout, you can easily answer the questions: where will we place the interface, where will human access be limited? It's like a lego constructor. We can move the elements of the module during the design process - from the beginning to the very end, ”Zoll shared his impression of 3D design. The created models are certainly not full-size prototypes. The modules themselves are the size of a room, and a huge printer would be required. But even the models produced by the IO team, with dimensions as small as two or three iPhones, provide new, better design opportunities.

    In the future, 3D printing can be used not only for prototypes, but also for the production of data centers, including motherboards for computers and other circuits, but this is the prospect of the coming decades, tomorrow this will not happen - if at all. “You can print little things and play with them. Architects do this all the time, ”says 3D printing specialist Berok Kosznevits, professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Southern California. “It is not possible now to print the entire container. Today's reality of 3D printing is such that it will not work to reproduce all the necessary nodes of the server module; for this, other technologies and other materials are needed. 3D printing can be a medicine that will speed up, improve design and erection methods, but this is not a panacea. ” IO employees, however,

    IO claims that they are pioneers in the application of 3D printing technology for the design of commercial data centers, but they are also confident that this technology will be widely used by their competitors. Frank Frankowski, in a private conversation, admitted that he is following the hardware projects of Facebook, a company that, in his words, is located in the very center of the movement to increase the efficiency of data centers as such, and this company intensively uses 3D printers, which means only one thing - Other companies will also take up this technology, this is only a matter of time. The company is famous for its know-how in the development of data centers, and 3D printing is undoubtedly a unique technology that can serve to develop more advanced, amazing capabilities on its basis.

    Also popular now: