Open Rack v3: what to expect from the new server rack architecture standard

    It will find application in hyper-scalable data centers.

    / photo Not4rthur CC BY-SA

    Why updated the specification

    Engineers from the Open Compute Project (OCP) introduced the first version of the standard back in 2013. He described a modular and open rack design for data centers with a width of 21 inches. This approach allowed to increase the coefficient of effectively used rack space to 87.5%. In comparison, 19-inch racks, which are standard today, make up only 73%.

    Additionally, engineers have changed the approach to power distribution. The main innovation was the 12-volt bus, to which the equipment is connected. She eliminated the need to install their own power supply for each server.

    In 2015, the second version of the standard was released . In it, the developers switchedon the 48-volt model and reduced the number of transformers, which reduced the energy consumption of racks by 30%. Thanks to these features, the standard has become widespread in the IT industry. Racks began to be actively used by large IT corporations, telecommunications companies and banks.

    Recently, developers have introduced a new specification - Open Rack v3. According to the authors of the OSP initiative, it is being developed for highly loaded data centers that process data for AI and MO systems. The hardware solutions implemented in them have a high power dissipation density. For their effective work, a new rack design was required.

    What is already known about Open Rack v3

    The developers note that the new standard will be more flexible and universal than v2, and will also take all the best from previous versions - energy efficiency, modularity, compactness. In particular, it is known that he will continue to use 48-volt power supplies.

    The design of the new racks will have to improve air circulation and heat dissipation. By the way, liquid systems will be used to cool equipment. OCP members are already working on several solutions in this area. In particular, contact liquid circuits, heat exchangers mounted on the rear wall of the rack, and immersion systems are being developed.

    Next, we present some physical parameters of the new racks:
    Form Factor, U48 or 42
    Rack width mm600
    Depth of a rack, mm1068
    Maximum load, kg1600
    Operating Temperature Range, ° C10-60
    Working humidity%85
    Cooling typeLiquid


    The developers of the specification claim that in the future, Open Rack v3 will reduce the cost of IT systems in data centers. Schneider Electric estimates that the second version of racks can already reduce server maintenance costs by 25% compared to traditional designs. There is reason to believe that the new specification will improve this indicator.

    Among the shortcomings of the standard, experts highlight the difficulty of adapting equipment and machine rooms to its requirements. It is likely that the cost of re-equipping server rooms will exceed the potential benefits of their implementation. For this reason, Open Rack is mostly focused on new data centers.

    / photo Tim Dorr CC BY-SA

    Another disadvantage is the design features of the solution. The architecture of open racks does not imply dust protection. Plus, the likelihood of damage to equipment or cables increases.

    Similar projects

    In March, another specification for racks was released - Open19 System Level (to view the specification you need to download a PDF file). The document was developed at the Open19 Foundation, where since 2017 they have been trying to standardize approaches to creating data centers. We talked more about this organization in one of our posts .

    The Open19 System Level standard describes a universal form factor for racks and sets requirements for network structure and power consumption. The Open19 team suggests using the so-called brick cages. They are modules with several chassis, in which you can place the necessary hardware - servers or storage - in arbitrary combinations. Also in the design are power shelves, switches, network switches and cable management system.

    For cooling, a direct-to-chip dry water based immersion liquid cooling system is used . The authors of the concept note that the Open19 architecture increases the overall energy efficiency of the data center by 10%.

    IT industry experts believe that in the future, projects like Open19 and Open Rack will allow faster building of flexible data centers for working with IoT solutions, and will contribute to the development of 5G technologies and peripheral computing.

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