bit-tech.net

Intel unveils Crystal Forest networking platform

Intel unveils Crystal Forest networking platform

Intel's Crystal Forest platform promises equivalent or better performance from standard Intel chips compared to network-specific ASICs.

If there was any doubt that Intel is looking to strengthen its presence in high-end networking, that's been removed with the announcement of a next-generation communications platform dubbed Crystal Forest.

Intel has long had a presence in the data centre, and not just in CPUs. The company has been producing network interface cards and switching hardware for years, but finds itself very much a bit player in a market dominated by the likes of Cisco and Bay Networks.

The first clue that Intel was looking to change that came when it announced the $125 million purchase of InfiniBand technology from QLogic. Designed to provide high-bandwidth, low-latency network connections in a supercomputing or high-performance computing environment, InfiniBand is a technology which could prove key to Intel's efforts in the field of exa-scale computing.

That purchase could have been a one-off designed to provide an infrastructure for supercomputing systems based around the Many Integrated Cores (MIC) architecture. Today's announcement, however, suggests that it's part of a broader attack on core networking infrastructure by the company.

'The demand for increased network performance will continue to grow as more smart devices connect to the Internet every day,' claims Rose Schooler, general manager of Intel's Communications Infrastructure Division. 'With the popularity of social networking and other high-bandwidth services, such as video and photo uploads/downloads, interactive video, crowdcasting and online gaming, service providers will be challenged to efficiently provision sufficient upstream capacity and manage the spike in network traffic.'

The solution, Schooler claims, is Crystal Forest. Designed as a next-generation platform for scalable high-speed communications, Crystal Forest promises Layer 3 packet forwarding performance of around 160 million packets per second without the use of application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) or network-centric specialised co-processors. Instead, Crystal Forest works entirely on existing multi-core Intel processors.

Using a software development kit, the Intel Data Plane Development Kit, the company claims that networking performance on Intel architecture platforms can be boosted fivefold over previous generations. Crystal Forest is also set to include QuickAssist technology, which Intel claims can accelerate specialised networking workloads including cryptography, compression and deep-packet inspection without the need for dedicated hardware.

It's a technology Intel claims is necessary: according to the company's figures, based on the Cisco Visual Networking Index report, 30 minutes of video are uploaded to the internet every minute. By 2015, this is expected to grow to five years of video every second. Using off-the-shelf Intel processors, the company claims, makes a platform based around Crystal Forest more scalable than anything that has come before.

Intel plans to release Crystal Forest later this year, with a simulated implementation available for development use via Wind River.

6 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Jqim 15th February 2012, 15:49 Quote
Computer things had funny names.
yougotkicked 15th February 2012, 23:28 Quote
sounds interesting, for a long time now internet has represented the vast majority of computer usage, but networking operations have been a side thought in the overall system design. by the looks of this i'd say it aims to shift the workload off the network controller, and place it on the CPU, allowing for the implementation of more robust software.
mclean007 16th February 2012, 07:01 Quote
How do they get from "30 minutes of video uploaded to the internet every minute" (which I think is a massive lowball - surely YouTube alone accounts for a huge amount more than this?!) to "five years of video every second" in the space of 3 years? That's an increase of over five million fold! And if the video is 1 Mb/s (low estimate in current age of HD, no?) then you'd need aggregate upload bandwidth of 157 Tb/s to shift that much data. And who will be putting online the 20 Terabytes of storage you'd need to add every second just to store that much data?
fluxtatic 16th February 2012, 09:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007
How do they get from "30 minutes of video uploaded to the internet every minute" (which I think is a massive lowball - surely YouTube alone accounts for a huge amount more than this?!) to "five years of video every second" in the space of 3 years? That's an increase of over five million fold! And if the video is 1 Mb/s (low estimate in current age of HD, no?) then you'd need aggregate upload bandwidth of 157 Tb/s to shift that much data. And who will be putting online the 20 Terabytes of storage you'd need to add every second just to store that much data?

Ars Technica had an excellent article a week or so ago on massive storage (Facebook, Amazon, etc.) Someone from Amazon stated they add as much storage space to their systems (mostly their cloud) every day as the entire operation ran on back in '01. Granted, that 365-fold in 11-ish years, but look at the the curve of technology itself - it's a logarithmic scale. So, maybe this was a mis-statement/typo, but I'd call it possible. Look at the ridiculous number of pics posted to FB every day. "Here's the bacon I'm having for breakfast", "Here's a pointless pic I took from the train on the way to work", "Here's 40 shots of me and my BFF making duckface in my dirty bathroom mirror" (seriously - can't one single person at least bust the Windex out before taking pics in the mirror?) and on and on.
mclean007 16th February 2012, 11:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fluxtatic
Ars Technica had an excellent article a week or so ago on massive storage (Facebook, Amazon, etc.) Someone from Amazon stated they add as much storage space to their systems (mostly their cloud) every day as the entire operation ran on back in '01. Granted, that 365-fold in 11-ish years, but look at the the curve of technology itself - it's a logarithmic scale. So, maybe this was a mis-statement/typo, but I'd call it possible. Look at the ridiculous number of pics posted to FB every day. "Here's the bacon I'm having for breakfast", "Here's a pointless pic I took from the train on the way to work", "Here's 40 shots of me and my BFF making duckface in my dirty bathroom mirror" (seriously - can't one single person at least bust the Windex out before taking pics in the mirror?) and on and on.
Yes, but let's put this into context. My broadbrush calculation of 20 TB/s means users uploading 1,728,000 TB per day of data. Facebook has 850 million users. For Facebook to use even 1% of that 1,728,000 TB per day (that is 17,280 TB per day) it would need EVERY SINGLE ONE of those 850m users to upload 20 MB of data every day. There are I'm sure some users who do upload that sort of volume of data, but massively in the minority. And that would just be for the biggest website in the world to use just 1% of the claimed "5 years of video every second".

I'd just like to see the source of the numbers.
Bakes 16th February 2012, 20:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fluxtatic
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007
How do they get from "30 minutes of video uploaded to the internet every minute" (which I think is a massive lowball - surely YouTube alone accounts for a huge amount more than this?!) to "five years of video every second" in the space of 3 years? That's an increase of over five million fold! And if the video is 1 Mb/s (low estimate in current age of HD, no?) then you'd need aggregate upload bandwidth of 157 Tb/s to shift that much data. And who will be putting online the 20 Terabytes of storage you'd need to add every second just to store that much data?

Ars Technica had an excellent article a week or so ago on massive storage (Facebook, Amazon, etc.) Someone from Amazon stated they add as much storage space to their systems (mostly their cloud) every day as the entire operation ran on back in '01. Granted, that 365-fold in 11-ish years, but look at the the curve of technology itself - it's a logarithmic scale. So, maybe this was a mis-statement/typo, but I'd call it possible. Look at the ridiculous number of pics posted to FB every day. "Here's the bacon I'm having for breakfast", "Here's a pointless pic I took from the train on the way to work", "Here's 40 shots of me and my BFF making duckface in my dirty bathroom mirror" (seriously - can't one single person at least bust the Windex out before taking pics in the mirror?) and on and on.

Put it this way. If those numbers were correct, at any one point in time, 5-6% of all people with internet access worldwide would be uploading video to the internet.
If you make the assumption that worldwide, about a third of the people are asleep at any one point in time, putting the estimate up to about 10% of awake people uploading stuff to the internet.

So, we thus realise that the article concludes that by 2015, we will each spend about 6 minutes per awake hour uploading video to the internet.

I'm pretty sure the article meant 5 hours a second. Much more manageable, and realistic.
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums