Facebook announced it’s contributing the Wedge switch specification to OCP. What might be more significant is some commercial availability of those switches: Accton announced it’s going to sell Wedge-based devices.
“They’re going to have devices available for sale in the first half of this year. So it’s no longer just a spec, no longer something that [only] Facebook can deploy in its data centers,” said Jay Parikh, Facebook’s vice president of engineering, during a Summit keynote talk.
That was the general theme of the Summit’s morning keynotes. OCP has established that its open source hardware designs are viable — it powers “everything in production” at Facebook, Parikh said. The next step is to make it easier to buy and use the open source hardware.
Accton’s first products are a switch with 48 10-Gb/s ports and another with six 40-Gb/s ports. Both are offered as open source design packages. “You can get all the design files. You can change anything you want to,” said Omar Baldonado, Facebook’s OCP networking co-lead, during an afternoon Summit talk.
Other switch designs from Alpha, Broadcom, and Mellanox are “getting very close to the finish line” in terms of OCP approval, Baldonado said, adding that “we’ve learned how to get these switches through a little more quickly.”
Most dramatically, Accton has submitted switches with 32 40-Gb/s ports and 32 100-Gb/s ports. It’s evidence that OCP networking won’t be just for top-of-rack switches, Parikh said.
Feels More Like a Server
On the software side, OCP wanted the switches to “feel more like a server” or “like another place where you would develop software,” Baldonado said.
To that end, the OCP networking framework has been amassing software to handle the low-level tasks involved in building a switch. That way, software vendors can concentrate on the more valuable chunks of code, such as the operating system.
For example, the OCP announced this week that it’s embraced Big Switch Networks‘ Open Network Linux (ONL). ONL isn’t a full-fledged operating system, not in the sense that we use the term — that’s what Big Switch’s Switch Light would be. (You’ll recall Big Switch also submitted Switch Light to OCP, early last year.)
Rather, ONL is the code that takes care of low-level things like fan drivers and I2C drivers — pieces of software that are necessary for running the hardware but are thoroughly unglamorous. Big Switch created ONL after realizing that programmers were working on these pieces of code again and again.
ONL doesn’t have anything to do with packet forwarding. It “lights up the management port on the back” of the switch, rather than the more popular blinky lights on the front, says Kyle Forster, one of Big Switch’s founders.
But you can attach forwarding agents — the algorithms involved in the actual forwarding of packets — on top of it. Big Switch did, obviously; so did Cumulus Networks (a piece of code called switchd) and Facebook (FBOSS, which Forster notes is a forwarding agent, not a full operating system.)
Cumulus contributed some valuable low-level software last year with its Open Network Installment Environment (ONIE), which allows for the bootup of an arbitrary operating system on a white box switch.
This year, Cumulus is contributing its ACPI Platform Description (APD) framework to OCP. An extension of the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface for computers, APD lets a switch describe itself in a language readable by the operating system. The operating system then creates the right controls for the platform.
Photo: Facebook’s Omar Baldonado, on stage at the Open Compute Summit yesterday.