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Cases That Can House Multiple Motherboards? 31

full-case asks: "Due to some interesting politics at the ISP where I work, I can run two machines in the colocation room for free if and only if they both occupy the same case. As it turns out, I have two (standard ATX-form-factor) motherboards with associated sundry that would really like to be colocated, and I know I've heard of cases that will accept multiple motherboards, but I can't for the life of me find one that will take the right size. The only ones that I can find are either in the $6k price range, or this sort of thing, which requires special ultra-tiny motherboards. I figure I would be served better by having a 4U case divided internally to mount two motherboards; both machines will fit nicely into a 2U case separately...but does such a beast exist, or can it be (cheaply) assembled from parts?"
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Cases That Can House Multiple Motherboards?

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  • by molo ( 94384 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @07:59PM (#4192310) Journal
    can it be (cheaply) assembled from parts?

    Yes. All you need are two of those 2U cases and a blowtorch. Be sure to remove your two motherboards first. :)
    • Or if you don't want to turn them off just use the almighty DUCT TAPE! =)

    • Yes. All you need are two of those 2U cases and a blowtorch. Be sure to remove your two motherboards first. :)

      I agree. If it's some ridiculous political or semantical issue, take what are obviously two computers, weld their cases together, and reassemble. It has a certain, "Well, fsck you too!" undertone.

      My suggestion would be a couple of ordinary, cheap desktop cases. You will no longer be using the lid on the lower computer so weld some sidepanels onto the chassis. Weld a fairly robust piano hinge on the top rear of the lower case to the bottom rear on the upper case, so that the two machines "clamshell" apart to allow you access to the innards of the lower one. Weld a pair of toolbox clasps to the fronts of the machines, and doctor up the faces to allow it to fit together. Modify the power supplies so that the two machines use only one outlet - just parallel them. Be sure to use grommets in the holes where the wires go from the upper to the lower chassis.

      A really nice touch is if you don't do any cosmetic work on the machines after this. Raw welds, grinder marks, scorching are all good when you wish to make a statement about the meaning of a given arbitrary rule.

      I've done IT in government, military and airport environments. I know your pain.... In my case, it was only one modem (but no limits on the number of telephone lines). So I hacked two external modems into one case, called it the BigBlockMopar Systems Inc Dually Modem DM-01, and put it in there.

      Use a MIG welder or take it to a good auto body shop to have them do it for you. Don't paint it unless you have to. Put on a big sticker calling it a "Fully Independent SMP" machine. They'll be pissed off at your loophole around the rules, but I don't think they're gonna update the rules to say "Clients shall not be allowed to weld two conventional computers together, create a fake model name, and pretend it's one machine."

  • A lot of things are possible, they just take a little work to get done. With the right soldering and such you could probably have a 4U fitted for 2 mobos.
  • by scotpurl ( 28825 ) on Tuesday September 03, 2002 @08:31PM (#4192490)

    The 1U unit holds SIX computers. The 3U unit holds 24 computers.

    Not real cheap, but not outrageous, either. Neato remote management tools, too.
  • Angstrom Microsystems has a quad Athlon MP system that resides in a single 1U chassis (consisting of two separate motherboards). The system specs can be found at []; unfortunately, they do not provide a price for it.

    I think there are some other companies that do the same thing, but the name escapes me now.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    After a bit of searching I found this: BladeRack [] its not cheap, $4999 base price.
    Here is a file server case that will take 2 motherboards: Model C1620RATX []
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Since it is not going to be sitting in you living room or on your desk, who cares what it looks like. Just grab an old milk crate, or some plasic 12-gallon box, or whatever. Stick it all in there. Done. It would probably take you less time than searching the Net, posting to /. and reading all the replies. Not to mention cost you a heck of a lot less. Think Recycle. What do you have around the house/office that would work? The only thing I wouldn't suggest would be bolting two cases together without "moding" the overall appearance so that it doesn't look like, well, two cases bolted together, because if your ISP is going to complain about two computers, they probably are anal enough to complain about two computers bolted together. But hey, just buy some particle board and stick in all in a box. Don't forget the convienient carrying handle. :-)
  • I'm going to make some assumptions you want to do this on the cheap.

    If you are going to take a 4U-5U case and hack it, look real hard at the mini-itx form factor boards. Cutting up an existing mainboard trays makes the work go faster. Really low heat, so stuffing 4+ in a case should not be an issue. Course big delta's are someone else's problem since it is off (your) site. Same with sharing a good power supply, though you will have to do a bit of creative splicing. I got an old rm sun clone that I gutted for just this type of thing.... all it cost me was a case of beer. A little mod work, and you can make the thing fit in a 19" rack.
  • maybe you should look for smaller motherboards instead of larger cases? mini-itx motherboards would be great for this sort of thing. you could probably fit 3 or 4 in a regular size case.
  • These guys have had terrible reputations with faulty crap in the past BUT I have had no problem with them. []

  • by Nastard ( 124180 ) on Wednesday September 04, 2002 @02:07AM (#4193696)
    It does need to be done on the cheap (like $100 or so), but the options aren't all that limited, I don't think. The rule is that there can be only one box. It doesn't have to be a rack-mountable, it could just be a dual-board case of any kind. The thing is, I'd like to use the current hardware, and not have to roll my own case.
    • See if you can put it in a cardboard box. You can do amazing stuff with cardboard and duct tape.
    • I don't know what kind of workload or OS you'll be running on these boxes. But if both boxes are relativly light load have you thought of running just one 'normal server' (anyone who's done sys-admin work knows that normal is relative) and splitting the function of the two boxes using user-mode Linux, or Vmware? If each box is a single way, get a dual box so each virtual box gets their own cpu and there's no contention between the two. Put each on their own SCSI channel with their own drive so one's heavy IO won't hinder the other, and put in two nics so each get's a full 100Mb. This way you pretty much get two boxes, but using one mother board. For something like this you will need a proper motherboard for sure, of course the usual something with as fast a bus as possible. Also try and find something with 64-bit/66MHz PCI bus and more than one them so you can split your two boxes even further.
  • Could you put parts for two computers in a cardboard box and call it a case? could you weld/bolt/tape two atx cases together and call that a case? I think your best bet would to build your own case. Pexiglass mabey?
  • Use a backplane or use a blow torch. Cases are the easiest computer part to fab DIY. Backplanes will provide the highest CPU density if that is required.

    Or stuff 8 Via EPIA boards into a single tower along with a good switch and a pair of 400 watt ATX Power supplies. Beowulf cluster in a toaster.
  • I remember a company by the Name of Siamese Systems in the UK .. Can't seem to connect to their original website ( but you can see:

    The 3-Pack []
    The 8-Pack []

    Beat me .. whip me .. Make me use Windows !!

  • This [] isn't in stock at the moment, but is meant for two 12"x13" dual Xeon boards with separate 350W PSUs for each board.
  • Amaquest. TW-8x00 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Neon Spiral Injector ( 21234 ) on Wednesday September 04, 2002 @11:52AM (#4195357)
    I have this case [] with two dual Xeons in it. With the SCA backplane it was like $650, but I think the case without that feature is much less.
  • Strikes me a virtual machine would be a more manageable solution?

  • This earlier article [] talks about a PCI card [] that is it's own system... that might be your solution.
  • Buy 2 mid tower cases. Remove paint with sand blaster. Braze 2 cases together. Sand joint smooth. Re-paint. Call it one case and be done. Just be carefull that it doesn't have that bolted together look or you might get caught but I doubt it.
  • What advantage does this have over a blade server? I can see flat cost as an advantage, but a blade can be packed down even more tightly than this machine can be, so a blade would have lower cost per server.
  • Im not sure how well this world work, but Maplin Electronics are doing an ISA card that is a pc in one.
    Its intended as a way to upgrade your old 486 or even 386 to a PIII spec system.
    It has onboard 10/100 nic, gfx, ide and even sound etc and can take up to a p3 1gig socket370 cpu. If you got a standard case I'm guessing you could run 4 or these babys in a standard atx case. (Although im not sure what you could do about powering it.) The board supports both at and atx power, it would not be hard to devide power from a suitably powerfull psu. A 400w psu would be fine for 2 of these cards You might push it to 3 but a 4th would require an aditional psu. I dont know who makes this board or if maplin have it on their website
  • 1) get a cheap bookshelf from ikea or soemthing 2) hack the top & sides off of it, leaving it a bit taller than the mobos (room for PS). Reinforce the corners with $0.25 l-brackets. 3) cut some drinking straws into 1/8 inch lengths, and cut up the side of them so they can have a smaller diameter 4) put them inside the screw holes in your mobos 5) screw the mobos directly to some plywood, which you can then use for the sides of the case. Yes, they'll be permanently affixed. 6) find a 486 on the side of the road, and swipe the drive mounts. Put'em in your new case. 7) when you affix the plywood mobo sides to the (book)case, do it with hinges from Home Hardware, and just toss the drives inside. Then if you need to access them, swing the side open. You don't need external drive access for a server. 8) cut some holes and mount case fans. Voila. Cheeeeeeeeap dual mobo case.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright