Fungible Inc. aims to re-invent the programmable data centre

Fungible Inc. today launched Fungible Data Center, a turnkey composable system featuring its own software, networking technology, and DPU chips.

Pradeep Sindhu, CEO and co-founder of Fungible said in a statement: “At Fungible, we believe that if we build a solution that addresses the most challenging requirements in data centres – specifically, hyperscale data centres running the most data-intensive applications, then data centres of all scales, on-premise or cloud, core to edge will reap the benefits as well.”

He added: “Today, we deliver the ‘composable’ piece with the first incarnation of Fungible Data Centers, fully managed by the innovative Fungible Data Center Composer software.”

Fungible Data Center scales from a few shelves in a rack, containing servers, storage and network gear, through a single rack to multiple racks. Fungible relies on its own specially-designed DPU chips, TrueFabric networking scheme, and an out-of-band control plane to dynamically compose optimised and working server configurations from pools of CPU+DRAM, GPUs – in the near future, storage, networking and virtualization resource. The component elements are returned to the resource pools when the application ends. Fungible says customers can get higher resource utilisation this way than with commodity X86 servers, storage and networking.

The company dubs the server component separation “hyper-disaggregation” and claims its scheme provides “performance, scale and cost efficiencies not even achievable by hyperscalers”. 

Fungible Rack.

The Composer software incorporates technology gained from Fungible’s September 2020 acquisition of Cloudistics. Composer runs on host servers and provisions independent virtual data centres in a peer-to-peer, geo-distributed private cloud, from the component resource pools.

Fungible delivers:

  • Standard compute and GPU servers are equipped with the Fungible Data Services Platform – a standard full-height, half-length PCIe card powered by a Fungible S1 DPU. The Fungible Data Services Platform card comes at three configurations/performance points: 200G, 100G and 50G
  • Fungible Storage Cluster comprising a cluster of Fungible FS1600 scale-out disaggregated storage nodes, each powered by two Fungible F1 DPUs
  • Standard TOR switches and routers for data, BMC and management
  • Fungible Data Centre Composer – a centralised software suite that enables bare metal composition, provisioning, management and orchestration of infrastructure at all scales.

The Fungible data services card offloads”data-centric processing” from the application servers, accelerating overall application performance.

Composed virtual data centres are separated by independent hardware-accelerated security domains, fine-grained segmentation, robust QoS, line-rate encryption and role-based access control. The software supports multi-tenancy and servers are not shared between tenants to avoid CPU side-channel attacks.

Liqid, another composable systems startup, composes similar server elements using its software and a control plane running across the PCIe bus, with no composability hardware running in the servers or storage components. It also supports Ethernet and InfiniBand, and can compose FPGAs, Optane drives and extended memory pools.

Liqid has been making sales to supercomputer and HPC customers. Fungible is also targeting this market, and has drummed up a supportive generic quote from Brad Settlemyer, senior scientist in Los Alamos HPC Design group: “The co-design of software and hardware to support data services and data analysis is integral to meeting our efficiency targets and advancing our national security mission.”

Fungible is setting up deals with OEMs such as Supermicro and Jupiter Networks to deliver worldwide deployment, support and training. Other earners include Dell, HPE and Lenovo. The Fungible Data Center is available immediately and the entry-level 200G system provides a proof-of-concept testing rig.

Comment

This is the most ambitious composability technology launch since HPE announced its Synergy technology at the tail end of 2015. The details are different but Fungible’s intent is the same – to make better use of data centre server, storage and networking racks to save paying for unused resource.

Fungible says it can set the composable data centre world on fire because it has its special software, networking and DPU chip recipe sauce. Like the other suppliers it has identified a problem; poor IT hardware utilisation, and says it has the answer; an automated programmable data centre using its software-driven chips and wiring.

However the sixth year since Synergy hit the streets composable data centres remain a niche technology. DriveScale has started up and gone away (bought by Twitter). Dell Technologies has its MX7000 but there is no scent of the world being set on fire by it, or by Western Digital’s OpenFlex technology. Only Liqid, which links to Dell and Western Digital kit, appears to be making progress. We shall see, soon enough, if Fungible will also break through.

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