Meet AMD’s Open Compute Project Motherboard

AMD has launched “AMD Open 3.0,” a modular server architecture based on the “Roadrunner” platform announced a year ago.

AMD made the announcement Jan. 16 at the Open Compute Summit in Santa Clara, dedicated to the design and manufacture of “open source” data-center hardware that can be shared freely. Open 3.0 is a motherboard can fit into servers of 3U rack height or less; it comes with slots for swapping out components.

According to Bob Ogrey, an AMD fellow and cloud technology evangelist for the company, AMD first began talking to potential partners and customers a year ago, soon after Facebook launched the Open Compute Project. AMD helped develop a common management framework, but it didn’t fit in with existing hardware.

At the 2011 Open Compute Summit in New York City, he added, Wall Street customers complained about the difficulty of controlling costs, even with the simplified designs: “‘We can’t build new [OCP] data centers that scale—we have what we have, conventional power, cooling and storage,’ they said.”

The Open 3.0 board preserves the simplicity of the Open Compute Platform (OCP) without any modifications to existing hardware. That may satisfy Wall Street: Fidelity Investments and Goldman Sachs are evaluating AMD Open 3.0 as part of their collaboration on the Open Compute Project.

The AMD Open 3.0 motherboard is a 16-inch x 16.5-inch board designed to fit into 1U, 1.5U, 2U or 3U rack height servers. It includes two AMD Opteron 6300 Series processors, each with 12 memory sockets (four channels with three DIMMs each), six Serial ATA (SATA) connections per board, one dual-channel gigabit Ethernet NIC with integrated management, up to four PCI Express expansion slots, a mezzanine connector for custom module solutions, two serial ports and two USB ports.

AMD envisions three systems based upon the Open 3.0 architecture: one optimized for the cloud, one for HPC, and another for storage, differentiated by the form factor and memory configurations.

AMD said that it was working with Broadcom and Mellanox to make the boards compatible with off-the-shelf add-in cards, and even working with Intel to further develop a common infrastructure and components. At this point, however, there aren’t any provisions to swap out the processor attached to the AMD Open 3.0 board—yet. That being said, Ogrey indicated that the topic has come up several times in discussions with Facebook.

AMD won’t actually make the boards, which will be shipped by Tyan and Quanta before the end of the first quarter. No pricing information’s available at the moment.

 

Image: AMD

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