[Beowulf] re: Sun Project "blackbox"

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Wed Oct 18 15:08:39 PDT 2006

At 12:21 PM 10/18/2006, David Mathog wrote:
>On further examination of the pictures it looks like at least some
>of the racks are mounted "sideways", to the conventional sense.
>I don't know about you folks, but 600A of 208V 3 phase combined
>with water cooling, a single exit door, and conducting surfaces
>everywhere sounds like it could be lethal, given 6 months of
>corrosion in the pipes or a faulty plumbing joint somewhere.

You're using the wrong conceptual model.  This is not a "computer 
room in a box", it's more a "very large self contained rack". While I 
could fit myself inside a deep double wide rack unit (and have done 
so to do cabling before the equipment is installed) it's not the 
normal mode of operation.

There are other things packaged like this such as fire-control and 
missile guidance radars, or standby power generators (ever looked 
behind the facades at traveling carnivals?), and large scale portable 
HVAC. You'll also see "skid mounted" equipment, but, again, in the 
basic 8x10x20-40 foot form factor. There's probably no intention that 
anyone would work on it "hot". And, there's lots of industrial 
equipment that combines high power and water (if not corrosive 
liquids) in a shipping container sized package without 
problems.  It's all a matter of good engineering.  One of the big 
engineering challenges for the first H-bomb was how to get large 
amounts of liquid deuterium around the country and to the South 
Pacific without losing any of it. Big dewars and refrigeration 
equipment all packaged in containers or on a skid was how it's done.

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