First Look at Zaius Server Platform from Google, Rackspace Collaboration

Zeus motherboard in barreleye

In April of this year, Rackspace and Google announced plans to collaborate on a new OpenPOWER/Open Compute server platform, codenamed Zaius.

Included in that platform were a bunch of exciting advancements, including POWER9 processors with on-chip accelerators, PCI-Express Gen4, a variety of interfaces for cache-coherent co-processors, a new and improved open firmware stack and 48 volt power input in an Open Rack v2 form factor.

We are now pleased to announce the first public release of our draft Open Compute Project specification for Zaius, available at opencompute.org. This release is special for three reasons:

  1. Having access to the spec this early gives you a chance to participate in the development process, or to fork your own solution, based on the foundation we’ve created.
  1. Most components used in this solution are modular, and re-usable elsewhere in other form factors. You can borrow a lot of what’s in our specification material, in many other kinds of solutions.
  1. If you’ve never participated in server design and development before, watching the spec, as we update and iterate on it, will give you some insight into how the process works.

The release also includes information on the Barreleye G2 chassis, which houses the Zaius motherboard. Similar to the approach taken with Barreleye G1, the draft is a work in progress, and will be expanded and modified as our project progresses.

chassis-barreleye-g2-0-with-cache-coherent-gpu-with-all-pcie-slots-exposed

front-of-barreleye-g2-2ou-chassis

As we test and improve our design, we’ll be incorporating community feedback. We will continue to revise the specification and deliver more design collateral (board schematics and layouts, chassis mechanical files, rack-level integration guidance and more).

Our industry must take a new approach if we are to continue the economic gains we enjoyed under Moore’s Law. The next generation of servers may be the last ones that bring meaningful performance advances, using only general processing (CPUs) and memory (DRAM) models.

Hardware will change (adding in FPGAs, ASICs, GPUs, new memory tiers and new IO models). Software will change with it (software development tools, operating systems, applications and management tools). And it will be better for all of us if the power to make those changes rests in the hands of a large developer community, rather than the hands of a few.

As we’ve said before, it’s best when it’s open all the way down.

OpenPOWER, Open Compute and initiatives like Barreleye and Zaius don’t just bring new servers into the world — they offer a unique opportunity to be part of this inevitable, exciting change. Beyond just reading a blog or the tech press, you can get involved.

Through our leadership in open communities, Rackspace is assisting in the creation of an open environment where technical problem solving is a shared opportunity.

It has been our pleasure to work jointly with Google, and we appreciate the enormous amount of experience and development resources Google brings to the table. Our deep engagement with IBM and Ingrasys continues, and we’re grateful for the involvement of Mellanox, Samsung, Nvidia, Xilinx, Broadcom and others. Each has made meaningful investments to make this open development process a success.

This incredible team of partners recently released Barreleye G1 into the market, with a rich set options. With Google joining us, we anticipate Barreleye G2 and Zaius will provide even more (and more powerful) choices.

These movements alter the status quo in our industry, and bring novel, community-driven solutions to very difficult problems. We hope you’re excited about these new projects, and continue to follow our progress. We encourage you to engage with us via the forums available at opencompute.org and openpowerfoundation.org.

Related:

Link to Open Compute Spec Site for Barreleye G2 / Zaius

Link to Open Compute Spec Materials for Barreleye G2 / Zaius

Read Google’s blog post on Zaius.

Aaron Sullivan is a Distinguished Engineer at Rackspace, focused on infrastructure strategy. Aaron joined Rackspace's Product Development organization in late 2008, in an engineering role, focused on servers, storage, and operating systems. He moved to Rackspace’s Supply Chain/Business Operations organization in 2010, mostly focused on next generation storage and datacenters. He became a Principal Engineer during 2011 and a Director in 2012, supporting a variety of initiatives, including the development and launch of Rackspace’s first Open Compute platforms. He recently advanced to the role of Senior Director and Distinguished Engineer. These days, he spends most of his time working on next generation server technology, designing infrastructure for Rackspace’s Product and Practice Areas, and supporting the growth and capabilities of Rackspace’s Global Infrastructure Engineering team. He also frequently represents Rackspace as a public speaker, writer, and commentator. He was involved with Open Compute since its start at Rackspace. He became formally involved in late 2012. He is Rackspace’s lead for OCP initiatives and platform designs. Aaron is serving his second term as an OCP Incubation Committee member, and sponsors the Certification & Interoperability (C&I) project workgroup. He supported the C&I workgroup as they built and submitted their first test specifications. He has also spent some time working with the OCP Foundation on licensing and other strategic initiatives. Aaron previously spent time at GE, SBC, and AT&T. Over the last 17 years, he’s touched more technology than he cares to talk about. When he’s not working, he enjoys reading science and history, spending time with his wife and children, and a little solitude.

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