SAN JOSE, Calif. — Broadcom, Intel, and Mellanox have developed competing specifications for datacenter switches, responding to a call from the Facebook-led Open Compute Project.
OCP called earlier this year for open specs for software-agnostic leaf and spine switches to complement its existing specs for streamlined servers. The specs aim to speed innovation in networking hardware, "help software-defined networking continue to evolve and flourish," and give big datacenter operators more flexibility in how they create cloud computing systems, said Frank Frankovsky, a Facebook datacenter executive and chair of the OCP Foundation in a blog posted Monday.
The project's goal is to deliver a switch that can be rebooted to handle different jobs as needed. So far the OCP group received more than 30 proposals for systems or components.
Intel posted online a full reference design for its proposal for a 48x4 10/40G switch (below). The design uses Intel's FM6764 switch acquired with Fulcrum Microsystems and two of Intel's own SoCs -- the Crystal Forest control plane processor and the Cave Creek chipset for daughter cards. Quanta and one other OEM built systems based on the design.
Broadcom said it has delivered a spec and a working system based on its Trident II switching chip that meets OCP needs. However the company declined to release further details.
Mellanox proposed a switch based on its SwitchX-2 switch and an x86 processor running the Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) software from Cumulus Networks. The switch supports either 48 SFP+ ports and 12 QSFP ports or 60 10GbE server ports when using QSFP+ to SFP+ breakout cables.
Separately, Cumulus submitted to OCP its ONIE software, a boot loader for installing software on network switches. It enables a generic switch to run a variety of networking software environments.
Further work on networking specs and proposals continues at an OCP event this week in San Antonio.
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times