Thursday, June 19, 2014

Facebook Unveils "Wedge" Top-of-Rack Programmable Switch

Facebook introduced a new top-of-rack network switch, code-named “Wedge,” and a new Linux-based operating system for that switch, code-named “FBOSS.”  Both products are part of Facebook's efforts to "disaggregate" the network from traditional product categories so as to create more flexible, more scalable and more efficient data centers. 

The Wedge switch features a modular design that brings capabilities of a micro-server using a range of processors, including Intel, AMD and ARM.  On the software side, the "FBOSS" uses the same libraries that Facebook currently uses to manage its server fleet.  This will let Facebook program the switch with the same abstraction layer used for other software services.

In an engineering blog posting, Facebook describes its capabilities as a hybrid of distributed and centralized  control models.

Facebook is currently testing Wedge and FBOSS and plans to contribute key elements to the Open Compute Project (OCP).

https://code.facebook.com/posts/681382905244727/introducing-wedge-and-fboss-the-next-steps-toward-a-disaggregated-network/

In May 2013, The Open Compute Project announced plans to develop an open, OS-agnostic top-of-rack switch.  The effort will be led by Najam Ahmad, who runs the network engineering team at Facebook. Companies that are supporting the effort include Big Switch Networks, Broadcom, Cumulus Networks, Facebook, Intel, Netronome, OpenDaylight, the Open Networking Foundation, and VMware.

In November 2013,  OCP said that it had received more than 30 potential contributions, covering most of the network hardware stack and even some of the network software stack.  In a blog posting, the Open Compute Project highlights four contributions in particular, all of them currently being considered by the OCP Incubation Committee and likely to be accepted soon.   These included  Broadcom's full specification for and implementation of an open switch;  Cumulus Networks' Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) software;  Intel's specification for an open switch; and Mellanox's open switch.

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