Facebook Unveils Wedge Open-Source Network Switch

It turns out Facebook is into networking that is more than just social, unveiling an open-source, software-defined networking switch this week at the Gigaom Structure Conference in San Francisco. Some industry-watchers are speculating that Facebook's new switch could ultimately disrupt the networking equipment market, one of the last dominions of proprietary hardware. If it succeeds, the Facebook switch could even pose a threat to network-equipment market-leaders including Cisco and Juniper Networks.

The switch, code-named Wedge, is being tested in Facebook's data centers. The company plans to have it in full production mode and released to the Open Compute Project (OCP) by the end of the year, said Jay Parikh, Facebook's vice president of network engineering.

Facebook founded OCP in 2011 to promote the use of open-source data center hardware. By developing open-source server designs, Parikh said, the company has saved $1.2 billion in infrastructure costs.

Wedge Overcomes Proprietary Limitations

With the proprietary networking gear, Parikh said, EUwe were running into a lot of things that slow down. It doesnEUt give us the flexibility we want -- the control we want -- the ability to configure things, monitor things, adjust [network] flows with things like Messenger, Instagram, Search, and all the other workloads we have. Being able to manage all that on the network is a very rich area for optimization.EU

The Wedge is a "top of rack" switch, built into each rack of servers at a Facebook data center. It has 16 40-Gigabit Ethernet ports and can be expanded to 32 ports, Parikh said. Facebook built its own chassis -- painted Facebook blue -- that is optimized for cooling and can have dual AC or DC power supplies.

The Wedge switch is built using the same microprocessor platform that is in Facebook's servers, and the company has developed its own network operating system, FBoss, which is...

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