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Facebook transitions to 100Gb/s switch for its data centres

Posted: 23 Nov 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Facebook? data centre? switch? Ethernet? Broadcom?

Facebook has revealed that it is developing a 100Gb/s top-of-rack Ethernet switch for its next-generation data centres. The Wedge 100 is a 32 x 100G switch said to use Broadcom's latest Tomahawk switch chip with a 3.2Tb/s aggregate maximum throughput.

The news is another example of how big Internet companies are designing their own systems as an attempt to make in-roads in leading-edge computing and semiconductor technology.

As with all its designs, Facebook will make the hardware open source for others to make and use. It is expected to run a variant of open source Linux-based software called FBOSS Facebook currently uses on a 40G switch.

In August, a Facebook optics expert described plans to drive 100G costs to $1/GB using a 100G transceiver with single-mode fibre. The design relaxed distance requirements to 500m down from 2km and eased specs on operating temperature and product lifetime. It is based on a QSFP28 pluggable form factor which uses four 25Gb/s lanes.

Facebook did not provide details on when it expects to deploy the Wedge 100 or how it will handle aggregating data from the 100G TOR switches.

40G Wedge design

Facebook released its 40G Wedge design as open source. (Graphic: Facebook)

Less than 18 months ago, the Web giant announced its work on a 40Gb/s TOR Ethernet switch, the first generation Wedge. The design emerged after meetings with switch chip makers in late 2013.

Facebook re-purposed that design into an aggregation switch called 6-Pack. The systems are key components of a data centre fabric it announced a year ago.

In March, the company showed its 16 x 40G Wedge based on a Broadcom Trident II chip. It then repurposed the design as a line card and a dual-socket fabric card to create the 128 x 40GE 6-Pack aggregation switch, based on 10G channels that can be upgraded to 25G for the 100G interfaces.

At the time Facebook engineers said there were working on a 32 x 100GE switch and had plans to use 100 and 400G optical links.

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