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Facebook turns its attentions to homegrown Wedge switch and Linux OS

The season of the switch
Thu Jun 19 2014, 11:30
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SOCIAL NETWORK Facebook has introduced some of the fruits of its Open Compute project, revealing a networking switch and a supporting Linux operating system (OS).

The Open Compute project looks to bring hardware development in-house so it will become simpler, cheaper and more closely aligned with the social network's needs.

The project has been running at the firm for some three years, and recently we heard that it is hard at work using Blu-ray arrays for cold storage prototypes. Wading into the switch industry could see Facebook take business away from established players like Cisco.

The open compute mission is a significant one, it has industry backing, and it is the sort of thing that a certain kind of person would call 'disruptive'.

"We started a project at Facebook over two years ago with a pretty big goal: to build one of the most efficient computing infrastructures at the lowest possible cost," said Facebook on its splash webpage about the project.

"We decided to honour our hacker roots and challenge convention by custom designing and building our software, servers and data centres from the ground up - and then share these technologies as they evolve. The result is a data centre full of vanity free servers which is more efficient and less expensive to build and run than other state-of-the-art data centers.

"By releasing Open Compute Project technologies as open hardware, our goal is to develop servers and data centres following the model traditionally associated with open-source software projects."

The switch, which is codenamed the Wedge, was revealed at the Gigaom Structure conference in San Francisco.

Facebook VP of infrastructure engineering Jay Parikh introduced the Wedge and the social network is calling it a "top of the rack switch". It is discussed in a blog post from the Facebook engineering team where the firm announced a supporting Linux-based OS for that switch, codenamed FBOSS.

"These projects break down the hardware and software components of the network stack even further, to provide a new level of visibility, automation and control in the operation of the network", Facebook said. µ


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