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Facebook Hardware

Will "Group Hug" Commoditize the Hardware Market? 72

Will the Open Compute Project’s Common Slot specification and Facebook’s Group Hug board commoditize the data center hardware market even further? Analyst opinions vary widely, indicating that time and additional development work may be necessary before any sort of consensus is reached. At the Open Compute Summit last week, Frank Frankovsky, director of hardware design and supply chain operations at Facebook, announced both the Open Slot specification and Facebook’s prototype Open Slot board, known as “Group Hug.” Group Hug’s premise is simple: disaggregate the CPU in a way that allows virtually any processor to be linked to the motherboard. This has never been done before with a CPU, which has traditionally required its own socket, its own chipset, and thus its own motherboard. Group Hug is designed to accommodate CPUs from AMD, Intel, and even ARM vendors such as Applied Micro and Calxeda.
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Will "Group Hug" Commoditize the Hardware Market?

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  • S100 anyone? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @03:19PM (#42649809) Homepage

    One architecture that supported "variable CPUs" was S100 where it is was typical to have a CPU card, one or more memory cards, and multiple I/O cards all plugged into a backplane. There were CPU cards for the Apple ][, but these were complete computers on a card that simply allowed use of the Apple ][ I/O.

    Given today's multi-gigahertz processors with gigahertz memory access, I would think it would be difficult, if not impossible to effectively separate the CPU and the memory by very much. Similarly, it gets pretty complicated with high speed DMA I/O when you move it away from the memory it is accessing. I'm sure it could be done, but the performance is going to suffer just from the physical distances. Add in connector resistance and noise and you have ample justification for putting the CPU, chipset and RAM in a very small module that then plugs into the rest of the computer for I/O.

  • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @03:43PM (#42650137) Journal
    I do no think it means what you think it means. Something that is a commodity product is fungible, meaning any indiviual product from any of various vendors is effectively interchangable with any product of the same kind from any other vendor. Computer hardware has been commoditized for a long time. While processors are not wholely interchangable (AMD vs Intel), the motherboard/CPU combo generally is. Everything else in a computer can more or less be swapped out with a different brand with the same or similar features. All pricing is based on cost and perceived value. The only way it could be more of a commodity is if someone came up with a way to plug any processor into any motherboard socket. Oh, and bonus points to anyone who can guess why the retail companies are moving away from separate box systems to all-in-ones. HINT: Look at the upgrade path for laptops.

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