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Software-defined networking (SDN) is a major revolution in networking that is just starting to move from bleeding edge to leading edge customer adoption. 


But already, Intel® is starting to think about what comes next and how the software defined model can be more pervasive in cloud-scale data centers. A key factor in those plans is the Open Networking Platform (ONP) that we announced in April.


That was my takeaway from the announcement about Intel’s cloud infrastructure data center strategy.  If you read the press release and the related presentations and watch the videos, you will see that the emphasis is on the strategy and several new microprocessors, including the Avoton and Rangely 22nm Atom processors, and the 14nm Broadwell SoC.


I want to unpack a bit about how the ONP fits in this next-generation data center strategy.  The architecture of the next-generation cloud infrastructure data center is built on three technology pillars:

  • Workload-optimized technologies: Examples here include deploying servers with the different CPU, memory and I/O capabilities based on the workload.
  • Composable resources: Moving from building server racks from discrete servers, networking equipment, etc to deploying a more integrated solution. Intel is making strides here with its Rack-Scale Architecture initiative.
  • Software-defined infrastructure: this is using a software controller to direct data flows to available resources which helps overcome bottlenecks keeping data centers from overprovisioning.


The ONP initiative combines our low-latency network processing, switching and interface hardware with a customizable software stack that works with third-party SDN controllers and network applications.


Already, the ONP “Seacliff Trail” 10GbE / 40GbE SDN top-of-rack switch plays a key role in the Rack Scale Architecture.


But the ONP also provides the foundation for a future where the SDN controller evolves into a workload orchestration controller – directing data flows not only to network resources but also orchestrating computing, memory and storage resources as well. 


Our open approach means that ONP infrastructure can support new controllers or orchestration applications.  The switching architecture of the Intel Ethernet Switch FM6000 chip family is designed for evolving network standards with industry-low L3 latency (400ns), high throughput and microcode programmability that gives it plenty of ability to support future standards.


Like the Intel strategy for next-generation cloud data center infrastructure, ONP is both comprehensive and high performance, with the openness and flexibility that allows our customers to innovate as well. 

I’m putting the final touches on my presentation for IDF13 (session #CLDS006) which will look at the emerging networking requirements for new server form-factors, specifically microservers and rack scale architectures.


Microservers contain multiple servers on a single board and are an emerging solution for some targeted data center workloads requiring a high number of low-power processors.  As these servers evolve and new CPUs are introduced (like the Intel® Atom™ C2000 processor family), CPU density is increasing.  At IDF13, I’ll talk about the emerging networking requirements in this category and how the Intel Ethernet Switch family and the Open Networking Platform address these needs.


Another hot topic for cloud data centers is the concept of rack scale architecture systems – which are pre-configured, high-performance data center racks that can be rapidly deployed to meet new workload requirements.  In this part of my talk, I’ll cover how the Open Networking Platform is being extended to provide efficient connectivity within these high-performance systems.


Here’s an outline of my presentation:

•      Data Center Trends

•      New Microserver Solutions

•      Intel® Ethernet Switch Silicon Architecture

•      Rack Scale Architecture

•      Software-defined Infrastructure

•      Example applications and proof points


I hope to see you at my IDF session at 3:45PM on September 11th in San Francisco. You are also invited to my poster chats on Switching for High Density Microservers from 11:30-1:00 and from 3:00-4:30 on September 10th.


If you are still on the fence about the value of attending IDF – or now want to register – I have included some links to the IDF website below.


Why Attend IDF13:


Registration now:


More information on the IDF13 keynote:


Main IDF13 landing page:


What’s New at IDF13:

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