Behind the Scenes - Engineering the Quadbox


June 2021, Captec launched the Quadbox – a brand new rackmount computer solution, designed for simulation and training applications with 4 x image generators in one chassis, amongst many other benefits, for a refined immersive training experience.

In this blog, our Applications Engineer, Mike New, runs through the stages in the making of the Quadbox rackmount computer.

Stage 1. The Concept

When brainstorming new product ideas we ask ourselves a few questions:

  • What problems can be addressed?
  • What improvements can be made?
  • What are people making do with rather than using something designed for the job?

In this instance, looking at previous projects the obvious trend within simulation computing was the sheer number of servers being used for each installation, the space being taken up by these servers and the time it would take for any upgrades or scheduled maintenance when you look at a setup of 10, 20 + servers.

So how can we help?

  • Let’s find a way to condense the systems down into a smaller footprint
  • Let’s help with the monotonous job of unscrewing the lids off of countless servers just to swap a card out
  • Let’s design something fit for the job

Stage 2. The Engineering

I’m fortunate to have a great engineering design team to call upon. Going to them with a vision and what sometimes might seem like a pipe dream suddenly starts to become a reality.

Initially this starts with a product concept design and as the project develops the technical requirements are refined, and new ideas and additional product enhancements come to light.

Conversations with potential end-users then commence to further understand how this product can truly help industry.

And finally, after many meetings, cups of tea and design tweaks, we have it.

  • 1 Chassis
  • 4 powerful systems
  • Fully independent with enough space for full-length dual-slot plug-in cards
  • Powered from a single input source
  • Each system removable to allow for quick and easy access

Stage 3. The Build

Metalwork starts arriving and in comes the boards, followed by the CPUs, the RAM, the Graphics cards and before you know it’s time to piece together the prototype.

This is the bit everyone enjoys – the chance to actually bring all the components together, build the product and get your hands on what only a matter of months ago was a couple of CAD drawings.

Once the niggles have been ironed out and recorded for updates to drawings, it’s important to stop for a minute, call a design review with the whole team and look for any additional improvements which could be made.

A thorough inspection of the build takes place to ensure everything is present and correct before the go-ahead is given to plug that cable in and power it up for the first time.

Stage 4. The Testing

Now we have a functioning prototype it’s time to put it into action and find out if the hours of design and calculations have come together.

First, we check our test plan – a simple thermal test running a light load, just enough to ensure the airflow is sufficient to cool off all the hardware, and once we are satisfied the boxes are ticked and we can move onto the real testing.

Taking full advantage of our comprehensive on-site pre-compliance facilities we can further our thermal testing by simulating different conditions using our environmental chamber, running a range of performance benchmarking software and performing EMC testing.

From this testing, we can record important information such as:

  • The acoustic levels
  • Temperatures of key components
  • Temperatures of exhaust air
  • Overall air throughput

Stage 5. The Launch

This is where all the hard work pays off, training sessions have been held, product data sheets are ready to send, and the webpage is ready for launch.

We introduce to you the Quadbox!

Replacing your 4 IG servers with a single 4U system. Whether your 2-rack solution suddenly fits in a single rack, your full height solution now fits under a desk or maybe your 4 desktop trainers can all now be powered by a single system.

Your technicians no longer have to spend time on consuming updates, upgrades or failures with a simplified maintenance design and increased MTBF.

The Quadbox allows for simplifying spares management through a shared system architecture design, utilising spare node space to accommodate backup systems.

To learn more about our brand new simulation computer, visit our Quadbox rackmount PC page.

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