Global Sources
EE Times-Asia
Stay in touch with EE Times Asia
EE Times-Asia > Memory/Storage

Open source data center edges its way to completion

Posted: 02 Nov 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:data center? open source? blade server?

Facebook Inc. has released the details of its six-month old initiative for open source data center hardware with new partners and specifications. It is considered to be the first and the most aggressive attempt to define standards for server components, systems and data centers for large-scale users.

To date, Amazon, Google and Microsoft have chosen to design their own systems and data centers as a point of competitive advantage. Whether Facebook can drive consolidation around its approach remains an open question, but the presence of new partners including Amazon shows it is gaining momentum.

Facebook has defined a new open source specification for a computer rack geared to be a prime building block for Web 2.0-class data centers. It has also released the design of a new data center it built in Sweden powered mainly by hydroelectric power.

"When you look at how the principles of open source have been applied to software and hardware, it's night and daylet's make it day and day," noted Frank Frankovsky, a Facebook engineer leading the project.

The new rack designa three-rack wide conceptis one of the more innovative aspects of the project. "The rack will become the server chassis," said Frankovsky. "We envision this as blade servers done right in open source using the full rack to innovate and giving operators a common way to deploy systems."

The chassis is not only wide but uses a 1.5U pitch for systems. The switch from the traditional 1U size is a departure from the concept of blade servers, ultra dense systems that have tried to save floor space but can be hard to cool. The wide rack is expected to include a greater range of networking and storage elements than today's racks. For example, rather than using direct-attached storage, the rack is expected to use cross-connected arrays of hard or flash disks.

The initiative has gained partners and a more formal structure. A newly-formed Open Compute Foundation includes a five-person board whose members include serial entrepreneur Andy Bechtolsheim, founder of Sun Microsystems and Arista Networks. Other board members come from Goldman Sachs, Intel and Rackspace. Other partners include Intel, Asustek, Dell, Mellanox, Huawei, Red Hat, Baidu, Mozilla, NTT Data, Georgia Tech University, North Carolina State University and CERN.

When it was announced in April, data center users Zynga and Rackspace announced they were part of the project. "I've been involved with standards since Multibus in grad school, and these standards accelerate innovation," stated Bechtolsheim. "What's been missing is a standard at the system level. This is the first time we have an open standard for a rack. I've already got email from people in China who want to join the project."

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

Article Comments - Open source data center edges its wa...
*? You can enter [0] more charecters.
*Verify code:


Visit Asia Webinars to learn about the latest in technology and get practical design tips.

Back to Top