Packing a Plethora of Ports Into a 2U Form Factor

News23 May 2024
Author: Louisa Rochford
Packing a Plethora of Ports Into a 2U Form Factor

In our latest project, we tackled the challenge of designing and building powerful 12th Gen automation rack systems, optimised for a compact 2U housing. Our customer needed compact units with specific technical specifications, and requested systems as small as possible, but would still need to feature a high quantity of I/O and other components.

These requirements guided our design choices, ensuring the final product was not only compact but also met their high-performance and connectivity needs.

The primary challenge was to incorporate a vast array of I/O options within the confined space of a 2U chassis. The system needed to support:

  • 2 x 10G Ethernet
  • 2 x 2.5G Ethernet
  • 4 x 1G Ethernet
  • 12 x USB 3.0 Ports

To achieve this, we selected a reliable PCIe network card for 1G Ethernet ports and another high-performance PCIe network card to provide the necessary 10G Ethernet ports, with 2.5G Ethernet ports available on the motherboard. For the USB ports, a high-speed PCI-Express card (5Gbps) was used, along with integrated motherboard USB connections and additional USB ports on a low profile breakout adapter.

With a high-performance Intel Core i5 CPU and multiple peripheral cards, efficient power distribution and cooling were crucial. To manage these, we installed a 500W power supply and a CPU cooler.

The industrial 500W power supply was chosen for its reliability and efficiency, ensuring stable power to all components. We also installed a low noise CPU cooler, which was ideal as it offers effective heat dissipation while maintaining a low noise level.

The system runs on Ubuntu, a robust and stable operating system. Ubuntu's stability and extensive support for a wide range of hardware and software ensures compatibility and ease of integration into existing workflows, making it ideal for automation tasks.

As always, an integral part of our building process is our photographic build spec system. This system provides detailed, step-by-step work instructions for each device, ensuring precision and consistency throughout the assembly process. Each step is documented with high-quality images and detailed instructions, guiding our technicians through the complex build process and ensuring that each unit meets our high quality and performance standards.

The 12th Gen automation rack systems we built successfully meet the high demands of modern industrial automation, highlighting our team’s ability to deliver bespoke, reliable computing solutions. By carefully selecting components and addressing the design challenges of I/O connectivity, power management, and cooling, we've developed a compact 2U server ready to tackle complex automation tasks.

For more information, please get in touch with our knowledgeable team at 01782 337 800 or email

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