Building a Blade Server: The HP Factory Tour

Last Friday, not only did I get a first look at HP’s containerized data center, but I was given a tour of its factory floors in Houston, where HP makes high-value custom servers for clients. One factory makes the servers, while the other assembles the computers into racks and complete systems. The systems can contain any combination of gear that a client could want, including servers from rival hardware vendors. (photos after the jump)

The factories are roughly 140,000 square feet each and employ about 1,600 people working around the clock, five days a week. HP keeps enough material on hand to keep the plant going for 12-16 hours without new inputs from vendors with warehouses in the Houston area. Each day they use about 3,000 chips worth some $3 million. The chips arrive twice a day in an armored lock box accompanied by guards. The photos below document all the steps involved, from gathering the boards and chips to the shipping of individual servers, with a quick shot of an HP system being built. I wanted to get a shot of the lock box of chips, but was denied.


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