Facebook Boosts Open Compute Server Platforms with New Designs

Wednesday Mar 8th 2017 by Sean Michael Kerner
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New Big Basin GPU server, Yosemite compute platform and Bryce Canyon storage chassis designs announced.

Facebook is updating its server hardware portfolio with updates of existing designs as well as new server and storage platforms.

Among the updates is the new Big Basin GPU server that is used for high-performance artificial intelligence and neural networking efforts at Facebook. The Big Basin is the next generation of Facebook's Big Sur GPU server, providing more power and throughput. On the memory side, Big Basin provides 16 GB of memory.Facebook Big Basin

"We designed the system to allow for the disaggregation of the CPU compute from the GPUs, which enables us to leverage and connect existing OCP components and integrate new technology when necessary," Kevin Lee, technical program manager at Facebook, explained.

"For the Big Basin deployment, we are connecting our Facebook-designed, third-generation compute server as a separate building block from the Big Basin unit, enabling us to scale each component independently," Lee continued.

From a hardware vendor perspective, the Big Basin is built in collaboration with Quanta Cloud Technology (OCT) and is powered by eight NVIDIA Tesla P100 GPU accelerators.

Yosemite v2 Multi-Node Compute Platform

Facebook is also updating its Yosemite multi-node compute platform. The new Yosemite v2 can fit up to four server cards into a "cubby" that makes up the Yosemite rack unit chassis.

"Unlike Yosemite, the new power design supports hot service — servers can continue to operate and don't need to be powered down when the sled is pulled out of the chassis for components to be serviced," Arlene Gabriana Murillo, technical program manager at Facebook, explained. "With the previous design, repairing a single server [would] prevent access to the other three servers since all four servers lose power."

Bryce Canyon Storage Chassis to Replace Open Vault Design

Storage arrays are another key part of the Facebook refresh, with the new Bryce Canyon storage chassis replacing the Open Vault design that was first released in 2012.

"This new storage chassis supports 72 HDDs in 4 OU (Open Rack units), an HDD density 20 percent higher than that of Open Vault," Murillo stated. "Bryce Canyon also improves thermal and power efficiency by using larger, more efficient 92 mm fans that simultaneously cool the front three rows of HDDs and pull air beneath the chassis."

All of the new Facebook server and storage chassis designs are now being made publicly available as part of the Open Compute Project (OCP), which Facebook helped to start back in April 2011.

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

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