Shaving design time, flash costs
It once took Facebook at least a year to design a new server, but using Open Compute components it completed a recent design in six months. That’s still far behind the pace of software which changes by the hour.
“There’s an impedance mismatch now between the speed at which software and hardware moves,” said Frankovsky in his keynote. “Everything is bound to a pcb and wrapped in sheet metal, and that doesn’t allow us good flexibility,” he said.
Separately Jay Parikh, vice president of infrastructure at Facebook, quipped in a keynote that if storage vendors were car dealers they would be offering a choice between a sports car (NAND flash) and a van (hard drives). He joked that what he wants is a Prius, large volumes of flash chips with relatively low write endurance and lower prices.
“It really puts a crimp on innovation when we have to shoehorn into things that are suboptimal,” he said. “The underlying storage systems are a big problem today,” he said.
Parikh said low cost NAND could open up many new flash uses in the data center. He is working to define his specific requirements and share them publicly through Open Compute, he said in a brief interview with EE Times
Creating such high volume, lower cost products could disrupt the current business models for flash vendors, he said. At the summit, Fusion IO announced it would supply its ioScale flash cards for as little as $3.89 per Gbyte. By contrast, hard disks provide storage for less than a dime per Gbyte.
The disruption would help serve a rapidly expanding market. Users generated an estimated 2.8 Zettabytes of new data in the last two years, including millions of pictures posted to Facebook, he said.
Parikh’s team is even contemplating the use of Blu-ray drives as a new storage medium to keep pace with the flood. He also described a custom server called Cold Storage that Facebook recently designed to pack into a single rack two petabytes of information that can be readily accessed.
“There is a huge data deluge, and we have to throw everything we have at it to innovate faster at the storage device layer,” he said.
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