At this week’s Fujitsu Forum in Munich, Germany Fujitsu demonstrated a distributed datacenter infrastructure built using Intel’s Silicon Photonics technology that allows the creation of servers with components distributed in discrete racks rather than everything built into a single box.
Working on the premise that the biggest enemies of building high-density systems are space constraints and heat, Fujitsu made use of the Intel Optical PCIe Express technology (OPCIe) to demonstrate a server that was disarticulated, with SSD storage and Xeon Phi co-processors running in their own enclosure connected by the fiber optics, Silicon Photonics modules and Intel-designed FPGAs. Both Intel and Fujitsu feel this technology offers significant benefits over traditional storage server architectures.
The architecture of the design is fairly simple. Using the Silicon Photonic modules, the server COPU still thinks that the resources assigned to that module are local to the server, so no changes need to be made to operating system software or applications.
To demonstrate this, Fujitsu used two of their Primergy RX200 servers with no special modifications, installed a Silicon Photonics module in each and an Intel FPGA to add the signaling necessary to allow the PCIe bus to communicate through the optical modules. Connectivity to the similarly configured enclosure that contained the co-processors and storage is very fast over a few meters of optical cabling; so fast that it can’t actually be measured, though it could be calculated in the range of 5 billionths of a second of latency.
This configuration means that the expansion of the server storage and co-processing capability, and theoretically even memory, are effectively limited only by the space available in your datacenter. The Silicon Photonics configuration shown at the conference was only for demonstration purposes, however. Fujitsu has not yet announced a productized version of the technology.