On the occasion of the OCP Summit, Microsoft presented several initiatives and projects within the framework of the Open Compute Project. The objective is to create open, optimized and economical equipment and software for hyperscalers data centers.
Even during the pandemic, events continue and the OCP Summit has just completed its first day which saw Microsoft present its achievements and projects. As a reminder, the Open Compute Project was initiated in 2014 by several companies including Facebook and the Redmond firm. The objective of this initiative is to design open, optimized and economical equipment and software for data centers. Today OCP includes many players such as IBM, Intel, Nokia, Google, Dell Technologies and Cisco Systems.
At the beginning, OCP published several specifications for various hardware components intended for data centers: motherboards, cabling, chassis, connectors, network switches. As part of the summit, Microsoft seems to have privileged the software aspect as shown in the blog article of Kushagra Vaid, hardware infrastructure engineer on Azure. He mentioned the Zipline project, a compression algorithm dedicated to cloud storage in the face of the data explosion and its intensive use by certain workloads. The goal is to have higher compression rates than today, higher speeds and lower latencies. Early tests show “compression rates up to 2X higher than the commonly used 64KB Zlib-L4 model,” Kushagra Vaid reports in a dedicated article. The code and hardware specifications for this project are available to the community.
Reinforced security and optimized equipment
In addition, security is an important subject for the publisher with the Cerberus project, a standard for a cryptographic microcontroller. The latter is part of a more global program, the Olympus project, a data center server that Microsoft has used in the range of its Fv2 instances on Azure. Still in security, another initiative still open source is a secure control module dedicated to the data center. It provides the essential components for the server motherboard excluding the CPU, memory and I / O slots. Microsoft announces that several manufacturers are working on integrating DC-SCM into servers. This specification can be combined with an acceleration module presented last year by Microsoft.
While software is an important focus, the hardware part has not been forgotten with the extension of liquid cooling technology to uses such as bitcoin mining. Microsoft is working with OCP members including Facebook and CoolIT to create a standard and develop cooling solutions for systems based on the Olympus project and Open Rack v3. Finally, still in hardware, the E.1S program designs a chassis optimized for systems running with Intel’s Cascade Lake and AMD Rome processors.