Pulsed Media’s 2023: A Year Of Innovation And Challenges

Pulsed Media Holiday 2023 Newsletter Header

Happy Holidays 2023!

What an Year, What an Year! A year both eventful, and uneventful at the same time. So many new MD Dedicated Server offers. Never before has the seedbox market seas been such calm to navigate, but challenges arose from the new server design paradigm with virtualization and SSD caching.

Meanwhile, the venerable MD Dedicated server platform development has progressed at rapid pace, a project decade in making coming finally together.

New datacenter build had some ups & downs, and has progressed. We might get into actual production by mid 2024.

It’s time for the holidays again, the year went by so fast! Let’s take a look back what’s been going on, while enjoying the holidays!

Datacenter Office Christmas party decorated, artistic illustration

Highlights of 2023

MD Dedicated Server Platform Development Progress

This series already has more servers than our regular dedicated line up, albeit admittedly regular dedis from us cost multiples more, even as much as 15x more than a MD.

These nodes are already a mid-tier service group by revenue, just from these testing development units alone. We have already a huge inventory, and are looking at more than tripling the number of these nodes over 2024. Yes, tripling the number of nodes in Single Year. We are also quite certain that 2025 will also at the very least double the number of MD servers from upcoming ’24 totals.

We begun with a simple rudimentary proof of concept on each iteration, and have seen wild progression. We are already on version 3 of the base platform, a laser cut aluminium sheet 3mm in thickness. Version 4 is already planned.

Custom electronics enclosures got just designed and rolled into production to better protect some parts, with additional features; Each of the group of 8 now gets their own power meter which quickly shows power quality, current consumption, total kWh etc. metrics. Very Cool!

Datacenter with xmas decorations, artistic illustration

Everything’s custom; Enginerding the Dedicated Server To The Max!

More or less everything is custom, down to the basic wiring of the systems. To-date we’ve had to hand solder each and every power wiring for each and every node with the newer common PSU and Power management features, this has been a lot of work. Just lately we found a manufacturer to get ready made wiring pig tails which also allows us more flexibility in future; This alone could potentially save 2 hours of working time per platform. It was very fiddly to build the wiring looms. With the prefab parts we only need to cut to length and crimp terminals.

The base platform has been designed in-house, we get these fabricated in a Estonian workshop. We are now on iteration #3 with that.

Artistic Illustration what tiny servers could also look like

Every server chassis’ needs modifications as well, mainly to improve cooling.

Every M.2 drive needs additional cooling modifications, some are permanent modifications, some are temporary. Screw mounted cooling solutions are both “expensive” and takes a long time to assemble manually; This typically does not matter but when you need to do say 50 in one go, you start to notice every minute of time spent. We are currently prototyping inexpensive permanent adhesive cooling solutions. These take very little human time, but needs to spend several days under pressure for the adhesive to solidify.

Even the rack rail mounts we are considering to design & build in-house; We couldn’t just find a sensibly priced off the shelf solution with the features we need. There are solutions, but if you need 600 rack rails, would you spend 60-100€ each and still have to deal with sub-optimal and slow to assemble rails. Meanwhile you know material costs are just in more 6€ ballpark for optimized, fast to assemble solution? Exactly.

Only the main components remain untouched, and off the shelf; Motherboard, CPU and RAM.

Machine shop illustration, metal workshop

Tooling is everything to build a MD dedicated server

Tooling has been the most crucial part for this, finding the right tools, building the right tools and also finding just the right parts. That’s why we have concentrated on very narrow selection of base server chassis’.

We’ve spent a lot of time on tooling, and even buying a bunch of the same tool from different manufacturers just to pick the best one. When you are looking at volume production, every second counts.

Some tooling we built ourselves, such as assembly jigs.

Things like that is very important. Simple things, even what kind of parts bins you have, so we designed our own “Kanban” bins for the most common parts.

Person assembling and working on electronics

The maths are simple, if a tool costs 50€ but saves even 5 seconds per node, every time, all the time; It was very cheap investment. If a tool takes 10 hours to build at a cost of 100€, but saves 1minute per node for years to come; This too has a nice return on investment. That’s the special thing of scale; Everything starts to matter.

This is not “true mass production” even, Toyota defines mass production as 25 000 units manufactured. That’s long ways, but even in our tiny scale of hundreds of nodes annually it all starts to matter.

Some tools take their time to take into use and production, such as 3D Printers. Calibration and testing to the nuances of that particular printer. We have a small 3D Printing farm, and the higher flame retardancy plastics are quite difficult to print even on the best printers on the market.

Dynamic Pricing!

This got just enabled finally. This is in an essence an auction which dynamically changes the MD server prices based on demand. Both up and down. Updates happen every hour.

It has no hard limits, so server price could go really high or really low, but most likely it will find out the right price for the market over time automatically. We’ve got so many models, and people need so many different configs, and it all gets really hard to decide what this or that should be priced. So Why Not Let YOU Decide What’s A Fair Price?

That’s what it boils down to essentially. A service is worth what the buyer is willing to pay for it.

We already have 18 different models, and it’s not far fetched at all we will get to 100s over the upcoming decade. Se head over to our MD Dedicated Servers page to check the current pricing, for this very moment.

Datacenter with Xmas decoration, artistic illustration

Kerava DC; DC2 Room1 Progress

DC2 located in Kerava, in locale we call with what translates to “Nuts” as in slightly crazy person familiarly, has been progressing. Albeit slowly.

Lots of nuances to consider, and having 8meter ceiling height adds it’s own challenges. But it has progressed.

We expect to finish epoxying / painting the place January – February, rest of construction by end of April and then it’s time to start installing infrastructure, electrical cabinets, outside air cooling fans, AC units, racks, fiber needs to be dug out and laid in the ground, fiber runs within the building (hundreds of meters across between workspace, DC2 Room1, building telco room) etc.

We are trying to be scrappy, but we might wind up still paying 2500-3500€ per rack ultimately in build out costs over the upcoming years.

Lowering Power Consumption

We made huge strides to lower our power consumption per user at the end of 2022, early 2023. Huge strides.

That being said, it’s not all been smooth sailing. Big and vast changes like that never really are, but considering the overall stability for the huge paradigm shift in question, it’s quite decent!

DC Deconstruction project in Vallila, Helsinki

We did a DC deconstruction project in Vallila, Helsinki. This had seen multiple owners over the 2 decades since it was built. We got quite a bit of valuable parts, some questionable value parts and some less so.

It was interesting, since this was considered top of the line back in the day. Cold air circulated to under the raised floor, and raised up from meshed or cut tiles.

Illustration of a container ship in stormy seas, lightning

Challenges Over 2023

Every year has it’s own challenges, and 2023 has been no different.

Electricity prices are still a challenge

Electricity rates are still roughly +50% at lowest, and have been increasing again. Part is at a set rate and part is spot priced. Spot pricing has come quite a bit of down, but we are paying much more than that currently. Average electrical rate tends to be more in the +150-200% range of what it was.

Nothing we can do about that but to adapt and hope rates get more sensible in the future.

New Seedbox Platform Challenges

We went all in for SSD Caching + Virtualization. This has turned out to be a challenge to manage. We had to build a lot of tools to manage this, and still managing most of the arrays can be a pain.

We have ways to overcome this however.

Another issue is mysterious, no error message, no log message freezes here and there. There is absolutely no indications what the issue is in any form. They all fail in a manner that automatic watchdog doesn’t get triggered; Meaning auto-restart doesn’t function. It’s been maddening, but fortunately there are long term solutions for this and it only affects tiny minority of seedboxes.

Increasing Pricing (and costs)

Inflation has pushed cost of many things much higher as well, and due to higher overall pricing in the market people have less disposable income to spend in luxury things such as Seedboxes. Meanwhile as our cost basis has dramatically increased, we cannot price things as competitively as before.

This has been a double whammy striking at sales from both directions.

This has resulted in less special offers, campaigns etc. overall, and a shift in what services people pick. A shift in focus.

World is changing rapidly: Artificial Intelligence

AI. It is rapidly advancing and changing things to a very large degree and fast. We use AI internally for a lot of tasks, and the advancements over 2023 alone are just stunning. We wrote about this at length in AI Revolution: ChatGPT’s Impact on Hosting Industry.

Barely a day goes by without some sort advancement. Case in point, GPT-4 generated lyrics with Suno generated song, Pulsed Media Holiday 2023 Song! Same Song, But Many Styles. All of these are single shot, no moderation and editing on the lyrics either.

Pop Metal
Punk Rock
Metal Christmas Carol
Epic symphonic Metal
Pop Metal Music Video with Plazma Punk

Tell us which one you liked the most! Share these with friends and let us know down in the comments what you thought.

Check more tools out at FutureTools.io

These were just fun one-shot examples, but the power of GPT-4, Clause, Microsoft’s various Copilots are undeniable. Things are just faster to make in the digital space now, solutions are faster to find etc. Sure the best tools cost a little bit of money, but the power is well worth it; Just last week we had a backend office thing, 30minutes with ChatGPT and hundreds of euros per month saved in costs.

Less powerful LLMs you can also run locally on your laptop. AI is truly becoming ubiquitous and extremely powerful all of sudden. Don’t you find kinda funny that Microsoft’s ever hated Clippy is essentially becoming true now as Copilot? Edge browser has ChatGPT built-in for example.

Not everything becomes quicker tho, but simply better. In past years, it was a pain to find good illustrations and photos to include in these newsletters which were free to use. However, now we got better illustrations but a lot of time was spent with Midjourney V6 to generate them, a lot of iterations and somethings it simply failed, like these powerlines:

Power Lines as generated with Midjourney V6, failure

Those obviously are not real, and cannot be real. Things like that AI image generation struggles with. Further, some kinds of artistic things just cannot be done yet with image generators, infographics and lack of human eye for art.

Plans for 2024

Our plans for 2024 are “kinda boring”, more of the same, more of the same. Finish DC2, build more MD Dedicated Servers, upgrade some Seedbox servers. Develop and Innovate, and keep a keen eye on all things Artificial Intelligence. Lots of software development needs to happen during 2024 as well.

How about you? Tell us in the comments!

Holiday Special!

Oh my, what would a Pulsed Media Newsletter be without a special? So Here’s a few!

Special #1: 10Gbps Storage Box: 4TB RAID5 Storage, ONLY 4€ PER MONTH! Monthly Only. Grab Yours Now!

Special #2: M1000 1Gbps Unlimited Traffic* 4TB Seedbox; -50% FIRST PAYMENT CYCLE UPTO 3 YEARS! Can be compounded with long term discounts. Snag Yours Immediately!

Special #3: M10G 910G SSD Seedbox with 10Gbps and 4GB RAM, EPYC Servers: ONLY 9.99€ PER MONTH RECURRING! Monthly Only. Snatch It Now!

All offers end 1st of January, are limited in stock and only 1 per person. Price updates on checkout page.

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year 2024!

It’s been quite a year, and there’s lots to look forward in 2024. But for now, let’s all relax a bit and recharge for the upcoming year. See family & friends, perhaps spend time reading a book (or few).

Thank You!

Group of friends celebrating New Year's eve and laughing

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