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RF Code, Raritan Launch System for Monitoring Server Power Consumption

The solution combines Raritan's power distribution units (PDUs) and RF Code's RFID sensor tags and readers, reducing the need for an Ethernet cable to forward energy-usage and environmental data to a company's back-end system.
By Claire Swedberg
Wireless solutions, Chan says—such as the RF Code-Raritan system—offer a way to do so at a much lower cost. RF Code tags, which include built-in temperature and humidity sensors, list at $100 apiece, while a single RFID reader, which can support as many as 40 server racks, costs $1,245. Therefore, a typical price for the wireless connection would be, on average, $240 per rack, or $24,000 for a center with 100 racks, including the expense of tags, readers, sensors and labor. The typical cost of a wired option, on the other hand, would be $300 for each cabled connection, plus $60 per sensor, for an average of $360 per rack, or $36,000 for a center with 100 racks—assuming only one PDU (and thus, one cable connection) per rack.

The system was developed earlier this year, Chan says, at the suggestion of an end user that had been employing an RF Code system and hoped to add power metering from Raritan, and had thus suggested a combined solution. That customer, he says, which has asked to remain unnamed, has now approved samples of the technology and intends to install the RFID-enabled power-metering system at its own data center.

"Our next step," Chan states, discussing Raritan's partnership with RF Code, "is to work out joint sales programs" that would allow either or both of the companies to market the combined product—though each technology is sold separately through distributors, Gaskins notes, many of which sell both products.

Raritan plans to RFID-enable its PX-4000 series of PDUs, which support the metered tracking of each of its power outlets—and, thus, the energy consumption of the specific server plugged into each outlet. The necessary PX-4000 firmware, as well as any hardware upgrade, will be available in the near future, Chan says. If multiple outlets are being used and a customer has purchased a PX-4000 series PDU, then information regarding current and kilowatt per hour for each server will be transmitted to the RFID tag. Because RF Code's RFID system is unidirectional (that is, capable of transmitting data only from the tag to the reader, and not vice versa), Raritan's PX-5000 series of switched PDUs will not work with the RFID technology, and must instead be installed with an Ethernet cable, which supports bidirectional communication.

Raritan and RF Code intend to offer a seminar for potential customers later this year, Chan says, to describe how the system can save them money. "I think it's a pretty important issue in data centers," he states. "For those using basic PDUs, they don't have to worry about installing a network [of additional Ethernet cables]. Besides saving the cost of equipment, the labor to install it is reduced, and the time to get it up and running is reduced."

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