Intel, Facebook Collaborate on Future Data Center Rack Technologies

  Intel, Facebook Collaborate on Future Data Center Rack Technologies

   New Photonic Architecture Promises to Dramatically Change Next Decade of
                   Disaggregated, Rack-Scale Server Designs


  *Intel and Facebook* are collaborating to define the next generation of
    rack technologies that enables the disaggregation of compute, network and
    storage resources.
  *Quanta Computer* unveiled a mechanical prototype of the rack architecture
    to show the total cost, design and reliability improvement potential of
  *The mechanical prototype includes Intel Silicon Photonics Technology,
    distributed input/output using Intel Ethernet switch silicon, and supports
    the Intel® Xeon® processor and the next-generation system-on-chip Intel®
    Atom™ processor code named “Avoton.”
  *Intel has moved its silicon photonics efforts beyond research and
    development, and the company has produced engineering samples that run at
    speeds of up to 100 gigabits per second (Gbps).

Business Wire

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- January 16, 2013

OPEN COMPUTE SUMMIT -– Intel Corporation announced a collaboration with
Facebook* to define the next generation of rack technologies used to power the
world’s largest data centers. As part of the collaboration, the companies also
unveiled a mechanical prototype built by Quanta Computer* that includes
Intel’s new, innovative photonic rack architecture to show the total cost,
design and reliability improvement potential of a disaggregated rack

“Intel and Facebook are collaborating on a new disaggregated, rack-scale
server architecture that enables independent upgrading of compute, network and
storage subsystems that will define the future of mega-datacenter designs for
the next decade,” said Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer during
his keynote address at Open Computer Summit in Santa Clara, Calif.“The
disaggregated rack architecture includes Intel’s new photonic architecture,
based on high-bandwidth, 100Gbps Intel® Silicon Photonics Technology, that
enables fewer cables, increased bandwidth, farther reach and extreme power
efficiency compared to today’s copper based interconnects.”

Rattner explained that the new architecture is based on more than a decade’s
worth of research to invent a family of silicon-based photonic devices,
including lasers, modulators and detectors using low-cost silicon to fully
integrate photonic devices of unprecedented speed and energy efficiency.
Silicon photonics is a new approach to using light (photons) to move huge
amounts of data at very high speeds with extremely low power over a thin
optical fiber rather than using electrical signals over a copper cable. Intel
has spent the past two years proving its silicon photonics technology was
production-worthy, and has now produced engineering samples.

Silicon photonics made with inexpensive silicon rather than expensive and
exotic optical materials provides a distinct cost advantage over older optical
technologies in addition to providing greater speed, reliability and
scalability benefits. Businesses with server farms or massive data centers
could eliminate performance bottlenecks and ensure long-term upgradability
while saving significant operational costs in space and energy.

Silicon Photonics and Disaggregation Efficiencies

Businesses 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

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 and

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.


Mark O. Miller
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