Fujitsu channels light and laser to accelerate data transfer
- 21 November, 2013 11:31
Datacentres could have a wireless future if Fujitsu has its way.
The company has developed technology, with the help of Intel, that will revolutionise the way data is transferred between servers.
Fujitsu used its festival of ideas, the Fujitsu Forum 2013, Munich, to demonstrate servers with thin fibre-optics that use of light and lasers to transfer data at faster speeds over longer distances.
Fujitsu has demonstrated servers with thin fiber optics that will use lasers and light to transfer data, replacing the older and slower copper technology.
The company revealed two Primenergy RX200 servers at its Augsberg factory connected to expansion boxes spread 10m apart via an optical cable.
The light was used to transfer data between the systems. Light is considered a faster way to transfer data than copper wire.
The optical data transfer hardware is based on Intel's silicon photonics technology.
Silicon photonics uses light, or photons, to move large amounts of data at high speed with little power.
The technology demonstrated how high-speed connections with fibre optical cables allows processing and storage units to be decoupled from servers and moved to separate boxes.
The Primergy expansion boxes have solid-state drives and Intel Xeon Phi co-processors, which would go directly into expansion slots in the servers.
The optical connection is based on Intel's OPCI-Express protocol, which is the optical version of the PCI-Express specification.
Light and lasers help transfer data at fast speeds over longer distances compared to traditional PCI-Express connections, and helps move components further away CPUs.
As a result, servers could be smaller, more storage and co-processors can be crammed into dedicated boxes, and power and cooling costs could be reduced.
Intel director, Victor Krutul, said he thought Fujitsu had done some good work when they realised that OPCIe powered servers offered advantages over non-OPCIe based servers.
"Rack based servers, especially 1u and 2u servers are space and power constrained," he said.
"Sometimes OEMs and end users want to add additional capabilities such as more storage and CPUs to these servers but are limited because there is simply not enough space for these components or because packing too many components too close to each other increases the heat density and prevents the system from being able to cool the components."
The servers and expansion devices have transfer modules and FPGAs (field programmable gate arrays) that make the systems ready for optics.
The optical cables use 68G bps (bits per second) of bandwidth, though data transfers could theoretically touch 100G bps. The FPGAs, which emulate the OPCI-Express protocol, are limited to eight lanes of PCI-Express Gen3.
For the demonstration, the optical cables were 10 meters in length. However, data transfers could reach 25G bps if cables are extended to 800 meters.
Silicon photonics has been a long-term research project for Intel, and the company started introducing protocols and cables this year.
The company also demonstrated a custom server from Quanta with the optical technology.