I decided that I needed to do some testing to determine how these machines worked when put in close proximity with each other. The first step was to find a rack solution that would allow me to get as many as possible per rack unit. These were a few shelving makers in the market space, but they all had either a 2 machine per 1U solution (80 machines per cabinet), or an 8 machine per 5U solution (64 machines per cabinet). I thought this number was way too low, so I contacted one of the vendors (H-Squared) and spoke to the owner, he told me they had been mulling over a design that would allow 4 mini’s per 1U, without restricting airflow to any of the machines, I immediately asked if I could beta test 5 prototypes, he said “Sure, right after I finish hand making them for you!”
In the mean time I had to order some test Mac Mini’s. I used the online configuration tool from Apple, but soon learned that I couldn’t get a Mac Mini with 16GB of RAM, so I decided to order the Mac Mini Server Core i7 chip with a 256GB SSD and 4GB of RAM (I would swap out those RAM chips for 16GB of Kingston memory once the machines arrived)
The final configuration of the Mac Mini’s is:
Mac Mini Server Core i7 Quad Core Processor
256GB SSD (Solid State Drive)
In a week, the shelving arrived and I was ready to do some scaled testing.
I commandeered some space in a rack and placed the 16 machines in their new cozy shelving and proceeded to run non-stop testing for days. The results of which were surprising. It turns out the Mac Mini’s run pretty hot, with the CPU core temps at 210 degrees and the rest of the machine at 150, but these temps didn’t set off any alarms, nor were the fans running at top speed. I also ran the same tests with 8 Mac Mini’s in the 8 across racking configuration with similar resuls. At this point I was convinced that I was going to try to stuff 160 Mac Mini’s into a single cabinet…. I might be crazy, but this is going to be fun.
Here are some pictures of the shelving::