The Open Compute Foundation It is not a brand that we usually hear a lot about in the news, however, it has benefited from two technologies that may change the way we understand hardware in the medium to long-term future. Especially in a world where configurable chips like FPGAs are starting to become important in future designs and their communication with software is important. What are these contributions and what do they consist of?
Although they seem like very separate worlds at first glance, at the end of the day our computer is nothing more than an integrated system between hardware and software and there is a point where this integration makes both worlds influence each other in terms of design. As is the case with virtualization and security capabilities in processors and virtualization in operating systems. That is, as the software gets closer to the hardware, there must be more relationship between both parties.
The operating system is the software within a computer that has the greatest contact with the processor and the rest of the components. What the rest of the applications do is make calls to the system and, therefore, they make requests to the operating system, which is the one that manages access to resources. At the same time, they are responsible for creating a reliable and therefore secure environment. So that malicious applications do not have access to confidential user information.
The new strategy of the Open Compute Project Foundation
The Open Compute Project Foundation has to apply the benefits of open source in the design of new hardware, that is, that the designs are not proprietary to a specific brand and that they can be freely modified by third parties. Which is based on the collaboration of the OCP with both Microsoft and Intel, on the one hand, as well as the Linux Foundation.
In the case of Intel and Microsoft, they have donated the design of its called SIOV, Scalable I/O virtualization, a component that is key in the use made by virtual machines on our PC. His homework? It is responsible for managing access to storage and peripherals. With the ability to handle in its most advanced versions up to hundreds and even thousands of different virtual machines. So it not only affects conventional computers, but also servers and even large data centers. So the contribution to the Open Compute Foundation will affect the design of new chipsets.
If we talk about the contribution to the Linux Foundationthe collaboration is with the SONIC project that the Open Compute Foundation has contributed. Which is the version of the penguin operating system that is running in so-called intelligent network controllersalso known as SmartNIC. Said penguin system distribution was originally an original Microsoft design and is going to be key in the development of future chipsets.
How does this benefit us?
The fact that Intel and Microsoft have donated their SIOV technology may seem unimportant at first glance. However, one of the reasons why the so-called fpga have gained importance in recent years is not to simulate existing processors, but to create complex interconnection systems and especially to emulate the so-called intelligent network controllers.
At the moment this only affects the world of servers and data centers, but it will not be long before the chipset on the motherboard of our PC is not only a peripheral hub, but also includes a embedded FPGA as long as it can be configured for different types of peripherals, instead of having several different chipsets available on the market. In this way, the chipsets that are not used for the creation of motherboards can be used again.