Facebook Redefines Data Centers, Parallel with Intel Photonics Share your comment!

Bookmark and Share

The world’s largest datacenters at Facebook will leapfrog competition by redistributing parallel system resources into homogeneous racks, and use Intel’s next-generation silicon photonics to interconnect Xeon and Atom processor racks to into more energy-efficient, and less expensive storage and networking racks.

“Intel is collaborating with Facebook to redefine the future of mega-datacenters,” says Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer (CTO). “By using Intel’s new 100-Gbit per second (bps) silicon photonics technology, compute, network and storage systems can increase bandwidth, with fewer cables and greater power efficiency, compared to today’s copper based interconnects.”

Today, each server has its compute, networking and storage resources aggregated in the same rack to reduce the distance copper interconnections must travel between them. In contrast, next generation mega-datacenters will disaggregate resources into separate compute, networking and storage racks. These are interconnected by Intel’s 100-Gbit per second optics — at a fraction of today’s cost and power consumption.

 At the Open Computer Summit 2013 (Jan. 16-17, Santa Clara, Calif.) Quanta Computer unveiled an early prototype of Facebook’s new disaggregated rack architecture. The design used distributed 100Gbps input/output Ethernet switches connecting arrays of Xeon and ultra-low-power 22-nanometer AtomAvoton” system-on-chip (SoC) processors to networking racks and server-farms. 

Supercomputer Interconnection Fabrics Based on Silicon

For the past decade, Intel has been developing all the necessary silicon-photonic components to bring down the cost of supercomputer-caliber fiber-optical interconnection fabrics. Doing permits the selection of architectural features based on performance and energy efficiency, rather than on minimizing the amount of copper used in the interconnect. Intel now has emitters (lasers), electrical-to-optical converters (modulators) and detectors (photo diodes) all made from inexpensive silicon, rather that the exotics gallium-arsenide compounds used in supercomputer-caliber interconnection fabrics today.

After developing the separate components, Intel has spent the last two years perfecting the architecture so it can handle the entire interconnection task with inexpensive silicon components. The company is now delivering engineering samples of its new photonics receptacle to the Open Computer Foundation, in cooperation with optical-fiber maker Corning and the owner of the world’s first photonic-enabled mega-datacenter, Facebook. 

Open Computer Project (OCP) Seeks Standardization

“Developing in the open and contributing to the Open Compute Project will accelerate the pace of innovation,” says Frank Frankovsky, vice president of hardware design at Facebook and chairman of the Open Compute Foundation. “With these technologies, the entire industry can close the utilization gap that exists in today’s system designs.”

Besides lowering the cost of ownership, extending the lifetime of each type of resource–since they can be upgraded separately–disaggregated mega-datacenters also eliminate performance bottlenecks while shrinking the datacenter’s footprint and lowering its power consumption, according to Frankovsky.

 Intel and Facebook are both founding members of the Open Computer Project (OCP) and are working together with others to standardize OCP boards for Xeon and Atom processors as compute resources, smart-storage resources and other devices capable of using Intel’s photonic receptacle.

Posted on by R. Colin Johnson, Geeknet Contributing Editor
11 comments
georgeabney34
georgeabney34

Is this all infrastructure for the next level of quantum photonic processors now in prototype development by MicroSoft?

At some point the three big Ones: Google, Facebook, Apple will join hands to form an umbrella of mutual interests pitched to support public services in the vast array of peripherals and hand held devices. Virtual servers are the new standard of storage technology and at the user end there is less to see that does MORE in terms of service. Next, a personal supercomputer unit worn under the skin may provide total information/service access to consumers every second of their waking and sleeping lives... in constant data-suck mode. All of this input will provide real time raw material to animate the core of what will become a global Executive Program internet oversight function to which all humanity will look for life management in all modes. Big Brother beckons?


R Colin Johnson
R Colin Johnson

@georgeabney34 Yes quantum photonics is definitely on the horizon, but its the same story as with other micro-miniaturization efforts--they have to get the photonics working for conventional data processing tasks before throwing in quantum processors (due by the end of the decade).

thompsonmdo
thompsonmdo

How much performance increase per cost in dollars is it ? And will the same technology be market ready for other industries ? When ?

R Colin Johnson
R Colin Johnson

@thompsonmdo Intel has not priced its silicon photonics, but it does say that performance gains will be combined with "significant" savings in operating costs, energy consumption, space occupied and simpler long-term upgradability due to disaggregation.

Macleu
Macleu

The concept of disaggregated resources into separate compute, networking and storage racks it's old and deployed in several Data Center. I see this only as a evolution of Data Center equipaments interconnection (From Fiber Channel and Ethernet). 

R Colin Johnson
R Colin Johnson

@Macleu You are right. High-performance datacenters can disaggregate using Fibre Channel, but by switching to silicon photonics, disaggregation becomes affordable for the "commodity" mega-datacenters that emphasize economy and power conservation over performance.

Chavezhermes
Chavezhermes

Espero los resultados en el nuevo facebook

jcdasilva1
jcdasilva1

With this partnership the Data Centers of Facebook will be the fastest in the world with an infinite capacity for data storage.

José Carlos da Silva | Brazil | São Paulo | SP

R Colin Johnson
R Colin Johnson

@jcdasilva1 I agree, if by 'infinite' you mean the ability to scale up to any number of servers per datacenter.

jcdasilva1
jcdasilva1

Com essa parceiria os Data Centers do Facebook serão os mais rápidos do mundo com uma capacidade infinita de armazenamento de dados.

José Carlos da Silva | Brasil | São Paulo | SP