The Open Compute Project will host it's first hardware hackathon at the upcoming Open Compute Summit on January 16-17, 2013, in Santa Clara, CA.Participants can register for the hack at There will be a limit of 100+ people. In addition, participants who register for the hack will also be registered for the entire OCP summit.  The summit will be in the Bay Area at the Santa Clara convention center. OCP is asking that once participants register for the hack, they participate in the entire hack, 6 to 10 hours over the course of the two day OCP summit.  

Participating engineers will use the Upverter platform  among others. Tutorials will be provided and the Upverter team will be available to provide guidance throughout the hack. Hackers will be separated into different teams for the duration of the hack and present the end results at the summits plenary on the 17th. Reference material on hardware design and circulate information on Upverter tools will be provided.

Details are as follows:

• Goal:  Design a set of "lego" blocks that can be applied to the scale compute datacenter space with a focus on improving energy efficiency, operational efficiency and cost reduction.

• Design tools:  ECAD: Upverter.  Electrical & Holistic collaboration:  Upverter.  Software collaboration: Github.  Mechanical collaboration:  Grabcad.

Skill set:  ElecEng, MechEng, SWEng, Designer. (Ideally each team has a combination of these skill sets.)

• Starting point:  We recommend starting with a really simple circuit that can be modified, or even whole-scale deleted, but it provides a great base to scaffold onto.  It could be a connector, a micro-controller or a power circuit.

• Physical tools:  We are going to avoid the machine shop, soldering irons, etc. that go along with building real stuff during a hackathon and focus on the design side. The tradeoff is that we will get everything professionally manufactured post summit. 

• Example hack project:  use low-power sensors for temperature information across a datacenter.  Use the Zigbee wireless protocol and aggregate the heat data across the datacenter.  This has the benefit of not requiring any additional wiring or interfaces.

• Pre-Hackathon Ideation:

  • Power: Modules for generating different voltages, high performance, microcontroller controlled, sensor integrated, etc.
  • Comms: IR through WIFI, through cellular. There are huge advancements we could make in drop-–-in communication modules.
  • Brains: Microcontrollers, development boards, etc.
  • Storage: Flash, cold, etc.
  • Sensors: Power, light, heat, airflow, etc.
  • Combos: Take a sensor, comm, and a brain and you’re already fundamentally changing the way datacenters operate.