Facebook introduced Backpack - the second generation of modular routers for data centers

    The web development vector of the last decade poses more and more complex challenges for engineers. With an increase in the speed of access to the Internet, video becomes the most popular content and, according to Facebook experts, as early as 2020, 75% of the traffic will come from this type of content. Plus, as we know, the amount of data is growing exponentially and even the most modern equipment is far from always efficiently coping with its tasks.

    A bit earlier, Google faced its YouTube service with its YouTube service, but the situation is a bit different for Facebook: video calls are growing in popularity, and VR technologies are on the verge, the development of which the social network attaches not least importance.

    Facebook has long gone beyond just a social network and is actively investing in other projects. In addition to various services, Mark Zuckenberg's assets include developments in the field of data transfer. One of the results of this work was Backpack, the second generation of modular routers providing 100G bandwidth, as reported on the company's dev blog .

    A year and a half ago, in February 2015, Facebook introduced the first generation of modular switches of its own design.

    2015 6-pack

    The Backpack Modular Router was designed specifically for 100G data centers. A reasonable question may arise, what is it about 100G technology that began to emerge at the end of the zero, and in 2011-2013 it entered the telecommunications world en masse?

    For several years, 100G has been used on optical highways, providing the necessary channel width. However, transferring data at this speed to the data center is a completely different situation. Now the data centers, for the most part, work on routers with a speed of 40G, which, in the future, will not be enough.

    That is why Facebook engineers worked on the creation of equipment that will allow routing inside the data centers at a speed of 100G.

    One of the problems with introducing 100G routers is their cooling. Compared to 40G, 100G switches have more power and, accordingly, heat up much more, which affects the energy efficiency of the data center.

    Facebook software development director Omar Baldonado commented on the upcoming upgrade:

    Imagine overclocking a gaming computer. We want to “play” at high speeds, but we need to do it in such a way that it is possible in all our data centers. We work with the ecosystem of an entire industry - manufacturers of servers, network adapters and fiber to get all the elements of a network of the required quality.

    It's hard to disagree with Baldonado: if there are “bottlenecks” in the infrastructure that cannot support the required speeds, the new Backpacks are simply more gluttonous and “hotter” routers with unused potential.

    As in the case of the 6-pack, Facebook will share its achievements on the Backpack Open Compute Project . Now the novelty is being introduced in stages in all data centers of the company, undergoing a multitude of verification and testing procedures.

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