Silicon Photonics and Disaggregation EfficienciesBusinesses with large data centers can significantly reduce capital expenditure by disaggregating or separating compute and storage resources in a server rack. Rack disaggregation refers to the separation of those resources that currently exist in a rack, including compute, storage, networking and power distribution into discrete modules. Traditionally, a server within a rack would each have its own group of resources. When disaggregated, resource types can be grouped together and distributed throughout the rack, improving upgradability, flexibility and reliability while lowering costs. “We’re excited about the flexibility that these technologies can bring to hardware and how silicon photonics will enable us to interconnect these resources with less concern about their physical placement,” said Frank Frankovsky, chairman of the Open Compute Foundation and vice president of hardware design at supply chain at Facebook. “We’re confident that developing these technologies in the open and contributing them back to the Open Compute Project will yield an unprecedented pace of innovation, ultimately enabling the entire industry to close the utilization gap that exists with today’s systems designs.” By separating critical components from one another, each computer resource can be upgraded on its own cadence without being coupled to the others. This provides increased lifespan for each resource and enables IT managers to replace just that resource instead of the entire system. This increased serviceability and flexibility drives improved total-cost for infrastructure investments as well as higher levels of resiliency. There are also thermal efficiency opportunities by allowing more optimal component placement within a rack. The mechanical prototype is a demonstration of Intel’s photonic rack architecture for interconnecting the various resources, showing one of the ways compute, network and storage resources can be disaggregated within a rack. Intel will contribute a design for enabling a photonic receptacle to the Open Compute Project (OCP) and will work with Facebook*, Corning*, and others over time to standardize the design. The mechanical prototype includes distributed input/output (I/O) using Intel Ethernet switch silicon, and will support the Intel® Xeon® processor and the next generation, 22 nanometer system-on-chip (SoC) Intel® Atom™ processor, code named “Avoton,” available this year.
The mechanical prototype shown today is the next evolution of rack disaggregation with separate distributed switching functions.Intel and Facebook: A History of Collaboration and Contributions Intel and Facebook have long been technology collaboration partners on hardware and software optimizations to drive more efficiency and scale for Facebook data centers. Intel is also a founding board member of the OCP, along with Facebook. Intel has several OCP engagements in flight including working with the industry to design OCP boards for Intel Xeon and Intel Atom based processors, support for cold storage with the Intel Atom processor, and common hardware management as well as future rack definitions including enabling today’s photonics receptacle. About Intel Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) is a world leader in computing innovation. The company designs and builds the essential technologies that serve as the foundation for the world’s computing devices. Additional information about Intel is available at newsroom.intel.com and blogs.intel.com. Intel, the Intel logo Xeon, Intel Atom and Intel Core are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the United States and other countries. * Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.