Within 24 hours of each other, I had the chance to meet Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and the guy I think of as Mr. EUV. These two men in black, polar opposites on the electronics spectrum, each taught me something in our brief encounters.
I was invited to Facebook’s holiday reception for the media thanks to my interest in the Open Compute Project, Facebook’s effort to drive industry standards for the gear that goes into their mega data centers. So I was delighted to see Frank Frankovsky there, the guy who drives the Open Compute effort.
Frankovsky made a guest appearance at the recent Intel press conference launching its Centerton SoC. The Atom-based chip is cool and Facebook plans to test it, but it lacks the umph for use in Facebook’s high volume Web tier which demands 8 to 16 cores running at 2.5 GHz or better, he said. Intel’s follow-on, the Avoton chip coming in 2013, has a better shot, he said.
The Facebook director has plenty of ARM SoC makers knocking on his door to find out exactly what he would like them to put in their next-generation chips. So Frankovsky says he feels no need to start his own SoC design project.
Facebook has some “big news” for the Open Compute Summit coming in January, Frankovsky said. I am guessing it is either a new mega data center such as eBay joining the project or an initiative in a new area like switching—after all switch guru and Arista founder Andy Bechtolsheim is on the Open Compute board.
So I figured I had my fill of networking and was just tucking into a little sushi when I notice Mark Zuckerberg had arrived in his signature black hoodie.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.