Intel is collaborating with Facebook on rack technologies used to power data centers. As part of the collaboration, the companies unveiled a mechanical prototype built by Quanta Computer that includes Intel’s new, photonic rack architecture.
Intel and Facebook are collaborating on a new disaggregated, rack-scale server architecture that enables independent upgrading of compute, network and storage subsystems.
Justin Rattner (Chief technology officer, Intel): 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.
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.
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 says it has spent the past two years proving its silicon photonics technology was production-worthy, and has now produced engineering samples.
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.
Intel is a founding board member of the Open Compute Project, along with Facebook. The Open Compute Project is an industry initiative dedicated to increasing the pace of innovation in data center technology.
Facebook has data centers in Prineville, Oregon, Forest City, North Carolina, and Luleå, Sweden.
[Image: Facebook server room / Image courtesy: Facebook]