Robert Cringely predicted that Google would do this almost a year ago:
“The probable answer lies in one of Google’s underground parking garages in Mountain View. There, in a secret area off-limits even to regular GoogleFolk, is a shipping container. But it isn’t just any shipping container. This shipping container is a prototype data center. Google hired a pair of very bright industrial designers to figure out how to cram the greatest number of CPUs, the most storage, memory and power support into a 20- or 40-foot box. We’re talking about 5000 Opteron processors and 3.5 petabytes of disk storage that can be dropped-off overnight by a tractor-trailer rig.”
Sun is turning this concept into an actual product, “Project Blackbox”:
“Designed to address the needs of customers who are running out of space, power and cooling, Project Blackbox gives customers a glimpse into the fast, cost-effective datacenter deployments coming in the near future–where thinking out of the box means putting an IT infrastructure in a box.
Project Blackbox packages compute, storage, and network infrastructure capabilities into scalable, modular units outfitted with state-of-the-art cooling, monitoring, and power distribution systems. Customers will be able to order a variety of standard and custom configurations of systems, storage, networking, and software. Housed in a standard 20-foot shipping container for maximum flexibility, Project Blackbox will be easily transported using common shipping methods. Simple hookups for water, AC power, and networking will enable customers to quickly deploy Project Blackbox upon delivery.
The Project Blackbox prototype is a computing powerhouse capable of hosting a configuration that would place it among the top 200 fastest supercomputers globally. The current prototype could support the following capacities:
* A single Project Blackbox could accommodate 250 Sun Fire T1000 servers with the CoolThreads technology with 2000 cores and 8000 simultaneous threads.
* A single Project Blackbox could accommodate 250 x64-based servers with 1000 cores.
* A single Project Blackbox could provide as much as 1.5 petabytes of disk storage or 2 petabytes of energy-efficient tape storage.
* A single Project Blackbox could provide 7 terabytes of memory.
* A single Project Blackbox could handle up to 10,000 simultaneous desktop users.
* A single Project Blackbox currently has sufficient power and cooling to support 200 kilowatts of rackmounted equipment.”
Detailed photographs are available here.