Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Facebook Refreshes its OCP Server Designs

At this year's Open Compute Summit in Santa Clara, California, Facebook unveiled a number of new server designs to power the wide variety of workloads it now handles.

Some updated Facebook metrics:

  • People watch 100 million hours of video every day on Facebook; 
  • 95M+ photos and videos are posted to Instagram every day; 
  • 400M people now use voice and video chat every month on Messenger. 

Highlights of the new servers:

  • Bryce Canyon is a storage server primarily used for high-density storage, including photos and videos. The server is designed with more powerful processors and increased memory, and provides increased efficiency and performance. Bryce Canyon has 20% higher hard disk drive density and a 4x increase in compute capability over its predecessor, Honey Badger.
  • Yosemite v2 is a compute server that provides the flexibility and power efficiency needed for scale-out data centers. The power design supports hot service, meaning servers don't need to be powered down when the sled is pulled out of the chassis in order for components to be serviced; these servers can continue to operate.
  • Tioga Pass is a compute server with dual-socket motherboards and more IO bandwidth (i.e. more bandwidth to flash, network cards, and GPUs) than its predecessor Leopard. This design enables larger memory configurations and speeds up compute time.
  • Big Basin is a server used to train neural networks, a technology that can do a number of research tasks including learning to identify images by examining enormous numbers of them. With Big Basin, Facebook can train machine learning models that are 30% larger (compared its predecessor Big Sur). They can do so due to greater arithmetic throughput now available and by implementing more memory (12GB to 16GB). In tests with image classification model Resnet-50, they reached almost 100% improvement in throughput compared to Big Sur.

Microsoft's Project Olympus OCP Server Runs Qualcomm's ARM Processor

Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies (QCT) is working with Microsoft to enable a variety of Azure cloud workloads using its 10 nanometer Qualcomm Centriq 2400 ARM-based processor.

QCT has now joined the Open Compute Project and submitted a server specification using Centriq 2400, which offers up to 48 cores optimized for highly parallelized data center workloads.

Specifically, the Qualcomm Centriq 2400 Open Compute Motherboard server specification is based on the latest version of Microsoft’s Project Olympus. The companies have demonstrated Windows Server, developed for Microsoft’s internal use, powered by the Centriq 2400 processor.

“QDT is accelerating innovation in datacenters by delivering the world’s first 10nm server platform,” said Ram Peddibhotla, vice president, product management, Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies, Inc. “Our collaboration with Microsoft and contribution to the OCP community enables innovations such as Qualcomm Centriq 2400 to be designed in and deployed into the data centers rapidly. In collaborating with Microsoft and other industry leading partners, we are democratizing system design and enabling a broad-based ARM server ecosystem.”

“Microsoft and QDT are collaborating with an eye to the future addressing server acceleration and memory technologies that have the potential to shape the data center of tomorrow,” said Dr. Leendert van Doorn, distinguished engineer, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Corp. “Our joint work on Windows Server for Microsoft’s internal use, and the Qualcomm Centriq 2400 Open Compute Motherboard server specification, compatible with Microsoft’s Project Olympus, is an important step toward enabling our cloud services to run on QDT-based server platforms.”

Cavium's ARM-based ThunderX2 Powers Microsoft's Project Olympus Server

At the Open Compute Summit in Santa Clara, California, Cavium announced that its ThunderX2 ARMv8-A Data Center processor is being tested by Microsoft for running a variety of workloads on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

The ThunderX2 product family is Cavium's second generation 64-bit ARMv8-A server processor SoCs for Data Center, Cloud and High Performance Computing applications. The family integrates fully out-of-order high performance custom cores supporting single and dual socket configurations. ThunderX2 is optimized to drive high computational performance delivering outstanding memory bandwidth and memory capacity.

Cavium said its hardware platform is fully compliant with Microsoft's Project Olympus which is one of the most modular and flexible cloud hardware designs in the data center industry. The platform integrates two ThunderX2 processors in a dual socket configuration. ThunderX2 SoC integrates a large number of fully out-of-order custom ARMv8-A cores with rich IO connectivity for accommodating a variety of peripherals for Azure, delivering excellent throughput and latency for cloud applications. The platform has been designed in collaboration with a leading server ODM supplier for Microsoft.

"Cavium is excited to work with Microsoft on ThunderX2," said Gopal Hegde, VP/GM, Data Center Processor Group at Cavium. "ARM-based servers have come a long way with first generation ThunderX-based server platforms being deployed at multiple data centers, which enabled a critical mass of ecosystem partners for ARM. We see the second generation products helping to drive a tipping point for ARM server deployment across a mainstream set of volume applications. Microsoft's support will help accelerate commercial deployment of ARMv8 server platforms for Data Centers and Cloud."

Mellanox Enables IPCIe Gen-4 OpenPOWER-Based Rackspace OCP Server

Mellanox Technologies is supplying its ConnectX-5 Open Compute Project (OCP) Ethernet adapter to enable the world’s first PCIe Gen-4 OpenPOWER/OCP-based Zaius, the open server platform from Google and Rackspace.

Mellanox’s ConnectX-5 supports both InfiniBand and Ethernet at 10/25/50/100 Gbps. It is also the first adapter to support PCIe Express Gen 4.0 for full 200Gb/s data throughput to servers and storage platforms.

Mellanox said its ConnectX-5 also supports Multi-Host technology, which disaggregates the network and enables building new scale-out heterogeneous compute and storage racks with direct connectivity from multiple processors to shared network controller. Mellanox Multi-Host technology is available today in the Mellanox portfolio of ConnectX-4 Lx, ConnectX-4, and ConnectX-5 adapters at speeds of 50 and 100Gb/s.

“We anticipate that Zaius and our Barreleye G2 server solution will bring new levels of performance and efficiency to our portfolio,” said Aaron Sullivan, Distinguished Engineer, Rackspace. “This platform combines IBM’s Power9 processor with PCI Express Gen4, and Mellanox ConnectX-5 network adapters. Leveraging these technologies, it is now possible to deliver hundreds of gigabits of bandwidth from a single network adapter.”

“IBM, the OpenPOWER Foundation and its members are fostering an open ecosystem for innovation to unleash the power of cognitive and AI computing platforms,” said Ken King, IBM general manager of OpenPOWER. “The combination of the POWER processor and Mellanox ConnectX-5 technology, using novel interfaces like CAPI and OpenCAPI, will dramatically increase system throughput for the next generation of advanced analytics, AI and cognitive applications.”

“Mellanox has been committed to OCP’s vision from its inception and we are excited to bring continued innovation to this growing community,” said Kevin Deierling, vice president marketing at Mellanox Technologies. “Through collaboration between IBM and Rackspace, we continue to push the boundaries of innovation, enable open platforms and unlock performance of compute and storage infrastructure.”

Radisys Announces DCEngine Release 1.0 Management Software

Radisys announced its DCEngine Management Software Release 1.0 for optimizing resources for hyperscale data centers,

The software is now available and shipping integrated with Radisys’ DCEngine product line, which is an open hardware platform based on the Open Compute Project (OCP) CG-OpenRack-19 specification. The specification is a scalable carrier-grade rack level system that integrates high performance compute, storage and networking in a standard 19 inch rack. Future DCEngine Management Software releases will extend these capabilities with a focus on facilitating the deployment and integration of the DCEngine hyperscale data center solution into existing SDN-enabled ecosystems.

Highlights of DCEngine Management Software Release 1.0

  • Intel Rack Scale Design APIs to enable dynamic composition of resources based on workload specific demands
  • Modules for leading data center orchestration frameworks, such as Ansible, to make firmware updates easy and convenient
  • Redfish Interface 1.0 protocol support

“CSPs are evolving their virtualization strategies and deploying data center infrastructure to support high availability applications such as virtualized network functions and real-time data analytics,” said Bryan Sadowski, vice president, FlowEngine and DCEngine, Radisys. “Our new management software for DCEngine delivers essential hardware resource management capabilities that are increasingly needed in this new ecosystem. We’ve reduced the operational pain points for rack scale deployments and operations by building a suite of tools that enable automated and convenient configuration as well as resource management to meet CSPs’ evolving requirements.”

Fujitsu Labs Unveils Tech for Multi-location Virtual Networks

Fujitsu Laboratories and Fujitsu Laboratories of America have announced the development of technology designed to simplify the delivery and operation of virtual network infrastructures that span multiple clouds and corporate networks.

The company noted that using conventional technology it is possible to build virtual network infrastructure within an individual cloud or corporate location utilising software defined networking (SDN) technology. However, virtual network infrastructure spanning multiple clouds and locations can require a different set-up for each cloud and location and manual configuration to connect each element of the IT infrastructure.

To address this issue, Fujitsu has developed software technology that abstracts the structural elements of networks in the IT infrastructure and which can support design, build, management and operation across multiple IT infrastructures. The company claims the technology can enable virtual network infrastructure to be built in one-tenth the time required with conventional technology for a virtual network infrastructure encompassing one cloud and a location with a few dozen devices.

The now solution developed by Fujitsu Labs and Fujitsu Labs of America functions by abstracting the structural elements of IT infrastructure to enable automated design and deployment of IT infrastructure that extends across multiple locations, while managing and operating the system as a single network infrastructure.

The new technology features elements as follows:

1. IT infrastructure abstraction via modelling of structural elements of IT infrastructure using logical software components to enable key features such as element configuration and operational status monitoring, allowing users to automatically build and operate virtual network infrastructures across multiple instances of IT infrastructure.

2. Virtual network function automatic supplemental technology to support the conversion from a logical to a virtual network infrastructure through deriving the designer's plans from the connection status of the logical network, automatically supplementing network functions by checking the connections between objects at different levels, such as IT infrastructure, subnets and nodes located at each end of a connection.

Fujitsu Labs stated that using the technology it is possible, for example, for a single engineer to design and configure a virtual infrastructure across one cloud and a location with a dozens of devices within one day. In addition, when migrating enterprise systems to the cloud it is possible to rapidly implement a project by performing operations on the logical network, or when setting up a network at multiple locations, by designing one logical network and then implementing a virtual network at each location.

Fujitsu Labs plan to continue development of additional functions for lifecycle management in logical networks using the technology, with the aim that Fujitsu will be able to provide sales as a network management function for enterprise users of cloud services after fiscal 2017.

Avaya to Sell Networking Business to Extreme for $100m

Avaya, which on January 19th filed voluntary petitions under chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, has announced it that has entered into an asset purchase agreement under which Extreme Networks will serve as the primary bidder in a section 363 sale under the bankruptcy code to acquire Avaya's networking business for approximately $100 million, subject to adjustments.

The sale process will be administered by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York and governed by the U.S. bankruptcy code. Other interested parties will have the opportunity to submit bids prior to a deadline set by the bankruptcy court. If other qualified bids are submitted, an auction process will be conducted, with the agreement with Extreme set as the floor value for the auction.

Approval of a final sale to either Extreme or a rival bidder is expected to take place shortly after completion of an auction, and the transaction is expected to close by June 30, 2017, the end of Avaya's fiscal third quarter 2017, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

On February 8th, Avaya reported first quarter results for the period ended December 31,2016 including revenue of $875 million, compared with $958 million a year earlier, with a net loss of $102 million, versus a net loss of $27 million in the 2016 first quarter. First quarter product revenue was $401 million, compared with $464 million a year earlier.

Extreme reported second quarter results for the period ended December 31, 2016 on February 1st including revenue of $148 million, compared with $139 million a year earlier, with a net income of $12.7 million, compared with net income of $9.0 million for the second quarter of 2016.

Avaya announced on January 19th that it was filing under chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, stating that its foreign affiliates were not included in the filing and would continue normal operations.

The company noted it had obtained a committed $725 million debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing facility underwritten by Citibank. Subject to court approval, the DIP financing, combined with cash from operations, was expected to provide sufficient liquidity during the chapter 11 cases to support continuing business operations.

Regarding the transaction, Kevin Kennedy, president and CEO of Avaya, said, "After extensive evaluation, I believe that a sale of the Networking business is the best path forward for all stakeholders… it provides a clear path for networking customers and partners and enables the company to focus on its core… Unified Communications and Contact Center solutions".

VimpelCom Russia selects Nokia to Manage Fixed, Mobile, Transport Networks

Nokia and Russian communications and technology company VimpelCom, which services over 58 million mobile and 2.2 million fixed broadband customers through the Beeline brand, have signed a five-year agreement under which Nokia will become the main provider of managed services for operator's fixed, mobile and transport network operations.

Having previously been responsible  for managing services on VimpelCom's network in central Russia, under the new agreement Nokia will extend its responsibility to managing VimpelCom's 2G, 3G and 4G mobile networks that are based on a range of equipment from different vendors. Specifically, field maintenance work will be carried out by Nokia for VimpelCom in the Southern, North Caucasian and Central regions of Russia, including in Moscow.

By consolidating and transforming its network operations, VimpelCom is aiming to benefit from more efficient networks and more streamlined operations, faster time to market and lower operating costs. VimpelCom also expects to enhance service quality for its more than 58 million mobile and over 2 million fixed broadband customers in Russia.

Under the agreement, Nokia will also provide network planning and optimisation services, network implementation, project management and network support via its global delivery hub located in Voronezh in the south west of Russia.

VimpelCom/Beeline in Russia is a part of Amsterdam-based telecom group VEON, the company having announced it was changing its name from VimpelCom to VEON on February 27, 2017. VEON serves over 235 million customers worldwide in countries and regions including Russia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Georgia, Tajikistan, Algeria, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Turkcell Partners with iBasis to Launch new IPX PoP in Istanbul

iBasis, a KPN company that provides international voice and value-added services for mobile operators, and mobile and fixed telecommunications operator Turkcell of Turkey announced a collaboration to establish an IPX point of presence (PoP) in Istanbul.

The new IPX PoP marks a further step in Turkcell's initiative to provide multiple services including 2G/3G and LTE signalling and roaming to customers and is intended to support growth in LTE services throughout the region. The PoP also expands the reach of the iBasis global IPX network, which currently encompasses more than 450 LTE destinations worldwide.

iBasis noted that through this collaboration, mobile operators in Eurasia and the Middle East have access to a single point of contact for global IPX reach with secure, end-to-end quality of service, enabling the provision of roaming for a range of LTE services to subscribers.

By enabling roaming services from Istanbul in Turkey, the new iBasis PoP is designed to support growth of the mobile ecosystem and expand the market for LTE services throughout Eurasia and the Middle East. iBasis stated that the geographical redundancy, diversity of transmission routes and high availability of the Turkcell network will help ensure secure and reliable services.

iBasis is a major IPX provider for carriers, mobile operators, OTTs and IoT service providers. The company offers voice services including HD voice, VoLTE and anti-fraud services. The iBasis IPX is a single multi-service IP interconnect service that allows interconnection for operators worldwide. iBasis' InVision analytics enables operators to monitor and manage the quality of roaming traffic globally.

Regarding the agreement, Emre Erdem, carrier relations and wholesale director, Turkcell, said, "With the target of transforming the Silk Road into the Fiber Road, Turkcell cooperates with international operators and continues to take steps to advance the evolution of Istanbul into the newest Internet base due to it geo-strategic location… it provides a bridge between East and West, which supplies a continuous connection… by partnering with Tier 1 operators".

Orange Egypt selects Oscilloquartz Synchronisation for LTE Roll-out

Oscilloquartz, a supplier of timing solutions and an ADVA Optical Networking company, announced that Orange Egypt, a company of France-based global telco Orange, has deployed its OSA 5421 technology as part of a complete synchronisation solution.

The advanced precision time protocol (PTP) grandmaster clocks from Oscilloquartz are designed to distribute and assure accurate timing throughout the national network in Egypt. The end-to-end synchronisation solution will also support the phase and frequency requirements required for Orange Egypt's large-scale deployment of LTE and LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) capabilities.

It was noted that in October 2016, Orange Egypt became the first mobile operator in Egypt to be awarded a license to operate 4G services, which the company is now rolling out supported by an investment of around $484 million. The new network and services are supported by the synchronisation network based on the Oscilloquartz OSA 5421 solution.

Oscilloquartz's advanced PTP grandmaster clock is a compact synchronisation distribution and assurance device that incorporates the vendor's Syncjack technology that enables continual monitoring. The solution is designed to deliver both the accurate phase and frequency information required for Orange Egypt's 4G services and provide assisted partial timing support via a quartz oscillator that allows extended holdover in the case of GNSS outages. In addition, the solution is optimised for deployment at the network edge.

In November 2016, Oscilloquartz announced it had been selected to synchronise a national core transport network being deployed for India's armed forces. The 60,000 km infrastructure, being built by a consortium led by Himachal Futuristic Communications (HFCL), featured Oscilloquartz technology to provide precise frequency and phase delivery leveraging its caesium beam clock and synchronisation supply unit, plus its synchronisation management system, SyncView Plus.