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nuliknol 11-11-2012 10:48 AM

laptops as servers
 
Has anyone come with an idea to use laptops as servers?
Laptops are cheap and they have battery, there would be almost never problems due to an unexpected shutdown in a datacenter if instead of dedicated server we would use laptops.
Most web applications are already designed to run on cluster, so replacing 1U, 2U and those big machines with quadruple power supplies by cheap laptops will reduce the cost of hardware and make it much easier for maintenance.

What do you think about this idea? Is there any initiative to promote laptops for server usage?

Thanks in advance for the comments.

agentsteel 11-11-2012 11:19 AM

Laptops are fragile, have a shorter life expectancy, most only have 1 hard drive (so forget about RAID setups).

masterclassic 11-11-2012 11:26 AM

I would hardly imagine a laptop to efficiently work as server.
Server work is usually hard. Fast network connections and fast RAID controllers are required as well as large RAM amounts. A laptop doesn't offer many expansion options.
Furthermore, a server usually works 24h/day for weeks or months.
A crucial laptop problem is the excessive heat and high temperature.

TB0ne 11-11-2012 11:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nuliknol (Post 4827059)
Has anyone come with an idea to use laptops as servers?
Laptops are cheap and they have battery, there would be almost never problems due to an unexpected shutdown in a datacenter if instead of dedicated server we would use laptops.
Most web applications are already designed to run on cluster, so replacing 1U, 2U and those big machines with quadruple power supplies by cheap laptops will reduce the cost of hardware and make it much easier for maintenance.

What do you think about this idea? Is there any initiative to promote laptops for server usage?

Very bad idea, and it's not done for a wide variety of reasons.

Even IF you found a laptop that had the same speed/power/expandability of a server, it's still a laptop. Right off the bat, what would prevent someone from grabbing your 'server', and walking out with it? To address other reasons:
  • Datacenters have massively redundant power systems...often the different circuits run to different UPS systems, and to different backup generators. Any serious server has at least two power systems...not one, and certainly not a power-brick that's prone to failure.
  • Reduce the cost? Really? A laptop with enough horsepower/memory to replace a server would cost just as much. Price out a top-of-the-line laptop, and a 1U server of similar spec.
  • A server is often connected to multiple network segments, for failover/redundancy, so if one router/switch goes down, the server stays on the air...how many laptops have MULTIPLE, wired, gigabit ethernet ports? And do not think that a USB dongle will do it...you're then limited to USB speeds, which are far less than the gigabit ethernet speeds.
  • How, exactly, are you going to connect it to a SAN? Can't plug an HBA into it, so you can't get it on a SAN. See previous comment about USB speeds, so even if you can kludge something together, it'll not give you the speed you need.
  • Cooling? Laptops are crammed into the smallest box possible...overheating isn't too difficult to achieve if you sit it on your lap, much less try to cram 30 of them into one rack.
  • How do you plan on putting multiple hardware-RAID drives into a laptop?? The absolute BEST you can manage is RAID-1/mirroring...RAID5/10 is often preferred, since one drive can die, while the others keep going. Hot swap the drive, and you have ZERO downtime. How are you going to do that with a laptop?
  • Peripherals? How do you plan on connecting them? You have NO expansion bus, so unless it's network or USB, you're done.
  • Security? Go into a serious data center...ask how many servers have bluetooth, wifi, etc.
  • Power wasting? Servers don't have/need sound cards, video adapters, and alot of the time, screens. All those things you CANNOT get rid of on a laptop.
And this is just a SMALL list, based on top-of-my-head reasons. There are lots more. And I can get a 4U server with many Xeon CPU's and a mountain of RAM, and spin up 30 or so VMservers, all of which will run quite speedily.

jefro 11-11-2012 11:47 AM

It boils down to speed per dollar. You'd spend a fortune trying to get enough laptops to do the work of a common energy efficient server. Energy is a big topic for all companies that pay bills these days but the main topic is the systems have to work and make money first.

Modern xeon and even sparc processors are made to work with low watts and high processing. Laptop processors and ram and associated parts are very very slow in contrast to the servers.

Laptops are made to be mobile. They are not efficient as such for constant load. They do contain a lot of advanced features that can turn off power to certain parts of the system when not in use. A common server would not have features like a modem or display or such.

sneakyimp 11-11-2012 05:41 PM

Laptop hardware is *always* more expensive than desktop/server hardware of comparable capability because the laptop hardware must be miniaturized. E.g., 2GB of laptop RAM of a given speed and latency costs more than the same RAM for a desktop machine because it's *smaller*. A laptop hard drive has a 2.5" form factor while a desktop drive has a 3.5" form factor.


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