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New Open Rack spec shows how important two inches can be

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The quest for energy-sipping webscale data centers continues incrementally with the release this week of the new Open Rack 1.0 specification outlining the design of data center racks.

This Open Compute Project specification focuses, as GigaOM has reported, on moving data center racks from 19-inch to 21-inch widths — the 19-inch requirement being a holdover (believe it or not) from railroad switching equipment.

According to a blog post on the project’s website:

The 537mm width (about 21 inches) of the chassis has a lot of practical engineering benefits, like improved airflow, greater energy efficiency, and better volumetric efficiency, as there is more space used for IT equipment instead of just air and metal. The rack itself is 600mm wide, which makes it the same as the overall width of a 19? rack, so it fits into existing data centers worldwide.

The addition of more usable space in the rack, means that components can be arranged differently. Switches, for example, no longer need to go atop the power zone, for example.

Details on the specification are posted on Github.

The Open Compute Project was initiated by Facebook(s fb)last year as a way to promote what it has learned from its own energy-efficient data centers as a model for others. Since that time it has helped form a multi-vendor foundation.

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