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Open Compute Project Advances Networking Efforts With SONiC and Minipack

Tuesday Mar 19th 2019 by Sean Michael Kerner

At the annual OCP Global Summit, there were two core themes for networking.

The Open Compute Project (OCP) is continuing to help push data center and networking technology forward.

At the OCP Summit Global Summit March 14-15, a number of vendors announced new networking efforts, though much of the networking news was coalesced around two primary themes: the SONiC (Software for Open Networking in the Cloud (SONiC) open source network operating system, and a new switch technology design from Facebook called MiniPack.

SONiC

Among the vendors with SONiC related announcements was Big Switch, which integrates its Open Network Linux with SONiC

"Leveraging SONiC and ONL to build an open-source NOS combines the benefits of OCP’s two important open-source software stacks, which are deployed in large-scale production networks," said Prashant Gandhi, Chief Product Officer, Big Switch Networks. "The emergence of SONiC coupled with ONL signals that lower layers of the NOS stack are being commoditized, and vendor-agnostic innovations will be moving to upper layers including multi-system automation, real-time telemetry, and predictive analytics."

SONiC is also being embraced by Juniper Networks, which will now support the open-source effort on its switching infrastructure.

"At Juniper Networks, we recognize how important open programmability is to our customers, already evidenced in our support of OpenConfig, Open/R and P4," said Manoj Leelanivas, Chief Product Officer, Juniper Networks. "To continue this support, we’re excited to announce the native integration of Juniper’s platforms with SONiC to offer hyperscale data center customers another option in data center architecture."

Facebook MiniPack

It was Facebook that started the OCP effort and it should come as no surprise that it is still Facebook that makes a whole lot of news at any given OCP event.

At the 2019 OCP Global Summit, Facebook announced its news F16 data center fabric, with the modular Minipack switch at the core. Minipack is powered by a pair of Broadacom StrataXGS Tomahawk III chips, which support both 400 Gigabit Ethernet and 100 GbE interfaces. Facebook said that a single Minipack switch chassis can support up to 32 ports of 400 GbE, or 128 ports of 100 GbE.

The Minipack in many respects is the success to Facebook's Backpack modular switch which was announced in 2016, which also supported 128 ports of 100 GbE, albeit in a larger 8 rack unit appliance. Minipack in contrast is half the size and the power utilization, while still providing the same number of 100 GbE ports and adding support for 400 GbE.

Facebook is contributing the design specification for Minipack to OCP, enabling others to use the same design.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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