Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Wednesday, December 7, 2022

ScaleMatrix Extends Density to the Edge 

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The edge is anywhere, everywhere (and any size) you want it to be, including some forbidding places that – until the advent of AI and IoT workloads that demand localized processing, storage and low latency – would never have been a locale for IT resources.

ScaleMatrix, provider of “variable density” (see below) colo and hybrid hosting data center services, is adding micro/modular edge data center capabilities to its portfolio with the acquisition of Instant Data Centers (formerly Elliptical Mobile Solutions), Tempe, AZ.

ScaleMatrix, now with five major data centers in the southeast, west coast and Dallas, is known for its S-Series Dynamic Density Control (DDC) platform, which deliver support for up to 52kW of power and water/air cooling capabilities designed to support AI, 5G and IOT workloads. While the company’s colos are based on DDC platforms, the company also began selling DDC products commercially for customers that want the cabinets on-prem. As for micro/modular Instant Data Centers (IDC) products, they will be integrated into DDC line under the “R-Series” designation – R for ruggedized.

Instant Data Centers cabinet

“Our clients are increasingly requiring that their IT resources be closer to where the decision processes and data creation is occurring, especially as AI continues to gain traction,” said Chris Orlando, ScaleMatrix co-Founder and CEO. “In November, we debuted a modular configuration of our DDC S-Series cabinets, which allows users to extend enterprise data center capabilities into places where data center resources are scarce, or where a data center does not even exist. This offer is seeing success in the field, but the demand to place IT workloads in even more challenging environments continues to evolve, and our acquisition of (IDC) sets the stage for us to be able to help customers truly deploy any hardware, at any density, anywhere.”

Including, he said, outdoors.

Formed in 2011 with high performance computing workload requirements in mind, Orlando admits that ScaleMatrix and its DDC cabinets got off to a somewhat slow start – faster growth, he told us, didn’t happen until the AI market began to take form in 2016 and 2017. AI, with its insatiable need for processing, data and interconnect, is driving mean target higher rack power density, which, according to a study by the Association for Computer Operations Management, is between 7 and 10kW, as of last year, with two-thirds of data center managers surveyed saying rack power density is increasing.

This is where ScaleMatrix’ “variable density” comes in: the company’s DDC cabinets allow customers to start as low as 1 kW or scale up to 52 kW in a single rack – without chilled door, rear head exchangers, dielectric fluid or hardware modification.

“We deliver variable density in the data center,” Orlando said, “the platform is enclosed, it’s liquid/air hybrid cooled, and it allows us to deliver very precise environmental controls both from an air flow and air temperature perspective that can be set on a cabinet-by-cabinet basis. That’s important as customers start to utilize and deploy different types of hardware from a variety of manufacturers.”

He said the addition of IDC modular edge capabilities is a natural extension of the DDC platform.

ScaleMatrix DDC

“We now support clients from a 100 percent unbiased position,” Orlando said. “With cloud, colocation, enterprise data center, and edge solutions at the ready, we are able to help clients solve IT challenges no matter where they occur.”

Integration of the IDC product line into the DDC cabinet portfolio, said IDC CEO Gavin Miller, “brings mobility, ruggedization, and variable form factor capabilities to an already powerful line up of modular data center solutions.”

Orlando said the DDC platform was built not only for density but also for efficiency, with a PUE of 1.15-1.2, enabled by the cabinet’s array of cooling and temperature control capabilities. It also has extra-wide capacity for HPC servers.

These qualities have attracted co-branding partners from the HPC and AI spaces. In November, the company announced a collaboration with HPE, the top seller of HPC servers, to launch a new Center of Excellence for hybrid HPC at ScaleMatrix’ headquarters in San Diego. In January, Nvidia announced that ScaleMatrix is part of its DGX-Ready Data Center program, which pairs Nvidia clients deploying its DGX-1 and DGX-2 supercomputers with data centers that can support the power and heat loads, between 30kW – 50kW, as well as the cooling and airflow requirements.

And last week at Nvidia’s GTC conference, NetApp showed an addition to its ONTAP AI platform, combining DGX-2 AI systems with NetApp’s A800 All Flash array and Cisco 3232C 100GB switching infrastructure in a 45U DDC cabinet. ScaleMatrix said the platform will consume about 36U of space and approximately 40kW of power.

“We like where this co-branded solution is headed,” Orlando said, “because while colo providers want you to put everything in a colo, and cloud providers want you to put everything in a cloud, we know that the real world is a much more hybridized space. Now that we can talk to customers about cloud and colo and managed services, but also about their on-premises requirements and how we can help them modernize their own enterprise data centers, we have a more holistic view and we come with an unbiased opinion about how to solve problems wherever our customers happen to be.”

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