Facebook Shares Designs For 100Gbit Data Center Switch

Facebook Shares Designs For 100Gbit Data Center Switch

Facebook has introduced a new dedicated tab for finding live and archived videos. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made live streaming a top priority for the company in recent months, with video expected to make up 75 percent of the world’s mobile data traffic by 2020.

The social media giant has been working hard to ensure its global infrastructure can handle richer content, like live streaming and virtual reality, at faster speeds. On Tuesday at the Structure 2016 conference in San Francisco, they unveiled their most powerful data center switch yet.

The latest switch is called ‘Backpack’ and the company say it will greatly boost the speed in which data is funneled through its data centers.

So how exactly does it work?

Backpack modular system

Backpack is based on the same homegrown FBOSS operating system as the company’s other switches, including the 6-pack switch released last year. The 6-pack was designed to stream 40G worth of data around its network. The Backpack is an 100G switch, which means it’s 2.5 times faster, and uses fiber optics to move data around instead of the traditional copper wires.

The Backpack will also function as a companion to the company’s Wedge 100 switch. The Wedge 100 is a “top of rack” switch that connects a computer rack of servers to the network and can transmit data at 100 Gbps. The Backpack has the ability to connect all the Wedge 100 switches together.

The ultimate goal for Facebook is to create a fully 100G data center. Omar Baldonado, Facebook’s Director of Software Engineering for Networking, believes the Backpack and Wedge 100 are significant steps in this process.

In related news, Facebook has also taken aim at the telecom equipment industry in recent weeks. They announced a new computer-network product called Voyager, which will be made freely available to the world. It also has plans to create an open source cellular wireless network.

Open Compute Project

Back in 2011, Facebook founded the Open Compute Project Foundation. This organization shares designs of data center products among companies, including companies like Intel, Nokia and Google, so that they can use and contribute to them.

In this spirit, Facebook typically develops its own data center designs and enlists manufacturers to build them. The Backpack switch was no different. The company worked with chip makers and optical materials vendors to create the groundbreaking switch.

The Backpack switch uses less power and generates less heat than any other switch that has come before it. They have made it modular, which brings down costs and means you can pull it apart and swap out parts, using different chips, different network cards and different software.

 

Conclusion

Speaking about the new product on Facebook Code, the company revealed that the Backpack was already in production and had been submitted to the Open Compute Project for review.

They said:

Going forward, we are excited to work with the community to develop an ecosystem around Backpack and help others build on this platform. We are committed to our efforts in the open hardware space and will continue working with the OCP community to develop open network technologies that are more flexible, scalable, and efficient.”

Some analysts believe Facebook’s push into an open-source data center hardware development threatens the business model of leading data center and telecommunication companies like Cisco and Hewlett-Packard.

It’s unlikely this push will slow down anytime soon, with the latest reports forecasting the virtual reality market also set to reach $105.2 billion during the same period.

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