Open Compute Project Announces Hardware-Software Co-design Strategy.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

April 14, 2022 – Today, the OCP Foundation, the nonprofit organization focused on hyperscale, announced a new hardware-software co-design strategy that is exemplified by recent contributions to the OCP by Microsoft and Intel of the Scalable I/O (Input/Output) Virtualization (SIOV) specification, and a new collaboration with the SONiC Project now at the Linux Foundation.

“Hardware–software co-design focuses on software that requires intimate knowledge of the hardware to drive maximum hardware performance, and speed time-to-market for hardware where system performance and ecological footprint can be highly dependent on software and hardware interactions. As part of the OCP’s new hardware–software co-design strategy we are pleased to have new contributions from Microsoft and Intel and continue our collaboration with the SONiC Project at the Linux Foundation,” said George Tchaparian, CEO Open Compute Project Foundation.

Hardware-software co-design takes on new importance as software workloads become more diverse requiring specialized silicon to deliver top performance at an acceptable energy and ecological cost. System software, or firmware, will need to be designed using knowledge of the underlying hardware architecture to make appropriate engineering trade-offs along the cost vs performance curve enabling greener software.

The recent contribution of Microsoft and Intel of the Scalable I/O Virtualization specification is an important example of OCP’s hardware-software co-design strategy where SIOV provides a hardware and software architecture for mass-scale virtualization of I/O. This specification is an evolution of SR-IOV (single root input output virtualization) removing scaling limitations, enabling 100’s and 1,000’s of VMs (virtual machines) or software containers to dynamically share a pool of I/O devices meeting the requirements of today’s modern cloud native software. The OCP intends to grow a healthy community around SIOV becoming a catalyst to spark innovation in silicon and cloud architectures.

Collaboration between the OCP and the Linux Foundation expands to include the SONiC Project. In alignment with hardware-software co-design, collaboration continues around the Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) project remaining at OCP and SONiC now at the Linux Foundation. The OCP is pleased that this collaboration allows the OCP to benefit from larger acceptance of SONiC by the Linux Foundation software development community, creating pull for OCP recognized switch hardware, opening new market verticals for OCP recognized equipment.  While SONiC is the OS of choice for many hyperscale data center operators, other market segments need specialized features and SAI will enable the market to choose the switch OS best suited to its use cases.

“The market for Data Center Infrastructure continues to evolve with increased silicon diversity prompted by adoption of AI and ML workloads. This diversity is reshaping the market which is under pressure to deliver the high-performance computational infrastructure that also manages its power and ecological footprint. These combinations of requirements make hardware-software co-design an imperative.” said Ashish Nadkarni, Group Vice President, Infrastructure Systems, Worldwide Infrastructure at IDC.

Support from Key Stakeholders

Intel (SIOV)

“Intel is committed to open standards as the fuel that that powers inclusive, innovative ecosystems,” said Ronak Singhal, Senior Fellow and Chief Architect for Intel Xeon Roadmap & Technology at Intel.  “By partnering with Open Compute Project to host the new Scalable I/O Virtualization (SIOV) specification, the whole CPU and PCIe device ecosystem can accelerate adoption of more scalable, efficient and high-performance I/O virtualization for the hyperscale era.”

Microsoft (SONiC)

“The open source SONiC Network Operating System is enabling rapid innovation across the network ecosystem, and it began with the definition of the Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) at OCP.  OCP and SONiC have contributed tremendously to each other’s growth in the last several years.  SONiC is now joining the Linux Foundation to expand the communities and industries it serves.  The OCP & LF SONiC Foundation will continue to work closely together across hardware and SAI specifications as part of the OCP’s hardware-software co-design strategy,” said Dave Maltz, SONiC Foundation Board Member and Technical Fellow/CVP, Microsoft.

Linux Foundation

“The Linux Foundation is happy to welcome SONiC, a leader in open source data center NOS deployments, to our growing community of open networking projects and developer communities,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Edge, and IoT, the Linux Foundation. “As we focus on the software component of SONiC, we look forward to partnering with the Open Compute Foundation (OCP) on aligning hardware and specifications such as SAI.”

More at