Bechtolsheim likes Intel’s modules
Switch maker Arista Networks is one of the companies testing samples. Founder and veteran entrepreneur Andy Bechtolsheim (above) joined Intel chief technologist Justin Rattner on stage at the summit (aove) to talk about the potential of the product.
In an interview afterwards, Bechtolsheim said the modules enable several kinds of products the industry hasn’t yet been able to build in a cost effective way, including a 100G Ethernet aggregation switch for big data centers like Facebook.
“100G Ethernet port average prices are $100,000—it’s so crazy—and they only sell a few hundred ports a year even though the standard was done a few years ago,” Bechtolsheim said.
The Intel module will change that cost equation. Also, it "is big for use inside and outside the server rack, because [with higher bandwidth and lower latency] you won’t have to worry about data placement, so it could have impact at the level of the software,” he added.
Ethernet will run over the new modules easily, he said. However, IEEE standards groups have yet to set this technology and out of competitive politics have been shooting down the notion of a standard specific to silicon optics, he suggested.
The Intel optics could also be used to carry PCI Express at 100G rates, eliminating the need for Ethernet on individual server boards in a rack. However, such uses would require new silicon and software, Bechtolsheim suggested.
“What’s been missing is getting this speed out of the box,” he said. “The Intel photonics is the first we have seen with the right speed, power and cost to take PCI Express out of the box—it’s as important as PCI Express, itself,” he added.