The OCP Summit 2018 hit record attendance and we can can summarize the theme as that of continued disaggregation of network/server functions. Examples of demonstrations, presentations and proposals associated with disaggregation are as follows:
- Flash/SSD. Project Denali was presented by Microsoft. The idea is it separates SSD controller functions from the flash memory itself, allowing the controller to be modified for different work-loads. This means, essentially, controller semiconductor companies such as Broadcom and Marvell may need to be selling directly to hyperscalers such as Microsoft, as well as to their historical customers – the SSD vendors – such as Western Digital and Samsung, for instance. We believe other hyperscalers have implemented flash unbundling already.
- Unbundling of Networking. Facebook showed off its FBOSS, a network operating system. Big Switch demostrated its FRR Open Source BGP, a routing protocol and Google showed off its Controller-based P4 system. There was some levity in this presentation as the hardware upon which the Google system ran was “(not disclosed)” – see accompanying slide.
- P4 network layer abstraction and programming environment. Google showed what we believe to be a live, in-production system using P4 to perform route injection and many other functions.
- Taking the OCP concept a bit further from the traditional server, storage and switch market, Mojo Networks demonstrated an Edgecore-supplied “OCP Accepted” Wireless LAN Access Point that was running the Mojo AP software and working with the Mojo Networks cloud-managed services offering. This wasn’t just a desk unit, the company had 21 live-working Access Points using the OCP concept that powered WiFi to the trade-show floor.
One clear message away from disaggregation was presented and proposed separately both by Facebook and Arista was that for co-packaged optics. Both companies explained that this integration will consume lower power; Arista went so far as to say it would consume 30% lower power on a system-wide basis. There was no clear consensus at the show whether co-packaged optics was going to be a hit; however the power-hungry hyperscalers must certainly be entertaining it.