Facebook tests switch specs for Open Compute Project

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The Open Compute Project last week announced that it is considering four contributions for  development of an open, operating system-agnostic data center switch it announced six months ago.

Open Compute is an effort initiated by Facebook two years ago to commoditize and wring cost out of hardware purchases for data center and cloud computing. It announced plans back in May to spec out an open source switch to complement its vendor-agnostic data center software, server, and storage designs.

The switch would serve as a cost-effective top-of-rack alternative to those from traditional manufacturers, such as Cisco, Arista Networks, Brocade, Dell, Extreme Networks, Hewlett-Packard, and Juniper. Such an alternative would foster faster hardware innovation, facilitate software-defined networks (SDN), and offer more choice to consumers.

Out of 30 potential contributions, OCP is highlighting four for consideration that are likely to be accepted soon, states Frank Frankovsky, chairman and president of the Open Compute Project Foundation, in this blog post.

Four proposals

Broadcom developed what the company calls an Open Network Switch specification addressing leaf and spine switch configurations and feature requirements. The specification is based on the company's widely deployed and supported Trident switch architecture, which includes networking operating systems and applications from Broadcom partners.

The specification is based on Broadcom's latest Trident II design, which  is designed to support up to 32 40G Ethernet ports and 100+ 10G ports.

Linux network operating system start-up Cumulus Networks proposed its Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) software. ONIE is a network boot loader to install software on bare metal Ethernet network switches.

open compute project

ONIE defines a runtime install environment that supports multiple network operating system vendors, giving customers more choice over their networking hardware and software, Cumulus says. ONIE is supported on a range of existing original design manufacturer (ODM) switches.

Intel has also submitted a specification for an open switch, specifically a bare metal top-of-rack device supporting 48-by-4 10/40Gbps ports with all necessary subsystems for switching, control CPU, peripherals, external interfaces, power, cooling, and mechanical enclosure. Intel says platforms based on this spec enable more choice, flexibility and a better cost structure for customers who choose to implement a software defined approach for networking and switching.

The Intel spec is also supported by an ecosystem of partners supplying production level systems.

A fourth open switch specification was submitted by Mellanox. Its SwitchX-2 x86-based top-of-rack specification supports 48 SFP+ ports and 12 QSFP ports, enabling non-blocking connectivity within a server rack or 60 10Gbps server ports when using QSFP+ to SFP+ breakout cables.

The Mellanox switch will be the first to enable Cumulus' ONIE over x86, and the company says it expects it to improve power consumption, latency, and density in data center designs.

This story, "Facebook tests switch specs for Open Compute Project" was originally published by Network World.

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