Google Pluto Switch

Published on September 13, 2012

Google Pluto Switch

    Two members of the network administrators forum found unknown devices in their company’s warehouse called Pluto with 20 10GbE ports and 4 1 GbE ports. They became interested because they had never seen such devices. On the front panel there was a connector of an unknown type: like SFP, but not as deep, and Finnish inscriptions on the rear panel. A search on the Internet yielded almost nothing. It was only possible to find out that the MAC addresses on the case belong to Google as the manufacturer of the equipment. In February of this year, photos of the strange switch were first published on the forum - and the investigation began.

    The authors of the photographs work for a company that supplies equipment; one of their warehouses is located in the small town of Shelby, Iowa. It was there that the switches were found. By the way, one of the largest data centers of Google is located 45 km from Shelby - most likely, the cargo was simply delivered to the wrong address.

    “Detectives” connected the switch to the network, but at first they failed to go into the console and configure the port to control a strange device. But here is what the Wireshark sniffer showed:

    In the end, the correct settings for the console were picked up, so we managed to identify the device as Google Planet8541 Pluto Edge.

    CPU: 8541, Version: 1.1, (0x80720011)
    Core: E500, Version: 2.0, (0x80200020)
    Clock Configuration:
           CPU: 825 MHz, CCB: 330 MHz,
           DDR: 165 MHz (330 MT / s data rate), LBC: 41 MHz
    CPM: 330 Mhz
    L1: D-cache 32 kB enabled
           I-cache 32 kB enabled
    Board: Google Planet8541 Pluto Edge Switch
           Wildcat revision 0.4
           Hardware watchdog enabled
           Last reset: Power Up
           Reset count: 0
    DRAM: 512 MB

    At the request of members of the forum, the device was dismantled and its insides photographed. Unfortunately, the quality of the camera on a smartphone is not very good.

    The mysterious device interested everyone so much that several people who wanted to buy the find appeared at once. In the end, Google representatives contacted the Shelby employees and asked them to urgently send them the equipment, promising even a reward - rare t-shirts that are not on sale.

    It turned out that this switch is, indeed, an internal development of Google, it works on firmware produced by Google. Apparently, such are used in data centers. Google optimizes many components for its needs, for example, server 44U racks with 8 hard drives per unit .

    Google has developed unique network protocols and interfaces, perhaps even unique cables. All this is done to maximize the cost of equipment in data centers, says Andrew Feldman, founder of SeaMicro and a former major supplier of network equipment for Google.

    Authors of the original photos later contacted the owner of the forum, Steve Spangle, and asked him to delete this thread with his posts, but he refused, instead wiping their names and replacing them with his own.