Andy Qin

Author Archives: Andy Qin

Open Hardware that Just Runs

When you buy a server, you don’t worry whether or not Windows will run on the server.  You know it will. That’s because the server industry has a comprehensive solution to a hard problem: rapid, standard integration between the OS and underlying open hardware.  They’ve made it ubiquitous and totally transparent to you.

This is not the case for embedded systems, where you have to check whether an OS works on a particular hardware platform, and oftentimes you find out that it’s not supported yet. Bare metal switches are a good example of this.

It’s time to change that.  We need the same transparent model on switches that we have on servers.  

To make open networking ubiquitous — and to give customers choice among a wide variety of designs, port configurations and manufacturers — the integration between the networking OS and bare metal networking hardware must be standardized, fast, and easy to validate. We need open hardware.

The Starting Point

Today, a bare-metal networking hardware vendor supplies their hardware spec to the NOS (network OS) provider. The NOS team reads the spec, interprets it and writes drivers/scripts to manage the device components (sensors, LEDs, fans and so forth). Then Continue reading

Striking Gold with Copper in the Data Center

10G Ethernet (10GbE) is a very popular interconnect technology in today’s data center. It’s widely used for servers/storage devices connecting to top-of-rack (leaf) switches, as well as connecting those leaves to the aggregation (spine) switches. According to a Dell’Oro Ethernet Switch Market report published in 2014, 80% of server connections will be 10GbE-based by 2018.

In general, two types of physical media are used in 10GbE interconnects: fiber and copper. For intra-rack (server/storage to leaf switch) connections, most deployments use copper cabling as it is the most cost effective for short distances within the rack.

There are two copper cable types: twinax and twisted pair. Twinax is used in the 10GBASE-CR standard in the DAC (direct attached cable) format, which is a fixed length cable with SFP+ plugs integrated into both ends. Twisted pair, on the other hand, is something that should be very familiar to every IT person. Remember CAT cables and RJ-45? The 10GbE interconnect standard that uses twisted pair is 10GBASE-T, which is officially defined in the IEEE 802.3an standard.


10GBASE-CR with DAC is great and used in many deployments. However 10GBASE-T over twisted pair offers some unique benefits:

Distance & Interoperability

10GBASE-T over twisted pair Continue reading