Facebook Reveals ‘6-Pack’ Switch For The Scalable Data Centre

Facebook has unveiled its new switch platform that will be installed in the social network’s vision of its own scalable data centre, a vision that it says only itself can build because of its high demands.

Facebook has called the switch platform ‘6-pack’, and Yuval Bachar, Facebook’s top networking engineer, explained in a blog post why the firm’s designed the switch.


Bachar said: “As Facebook’s infrastructure has scaled, we’ve frequently run up against the limits of traditional networking technologies, which tend to be too closed, too monolithic, and too iterative for the scale at which we operate and the pace at which we move,” said Bachar.

“Over the last few years we’ve been building our own network, breaking down traditional network components and rebuilding them into modular disaggregated systems that provide us with the flexibility, efficiency, and scale we need.”

6-pack is a full mesh non-blocking two-stage switch that includes 12 independent switching elements. Each independent element can switch 1.28Tbps. We have two configurations: One configuration exposes 16x40GE ports to the front and 640G (16x40GE) to the back, and the other is used for aggregation and exposes all 1.28T to the back.

Common building blocks

With the 6-pack switch platform, Facebook has created an architecture that lets it build any size switch using a set of common building blocks. Modular by design, the technology agnostic, Facebook said it’s a platform which it hopes “the entire industry” can build on.

The 6-pack is built upon a piece of network hardware that Facebook unveiled last year called the Wedge. The Wedge is an actual open-source switch, and Wedges can now be stacked together like bricks onto the 6-pack. As the network grows, more Wedges can be added to the 6-packs, expanding your data capacity.

Facebook is also planning to give the software and hardware designs away for no cost, a move which could be worrying for network switch competitor Cisco, which released its fourth quarter results yesterday.

Facebook isn’t planning on selling this hardware, however. It’s all part of its Open Compute Project, where members are modding data centre hardware to make it faster and easier to use.

How much do you know about Cisco? Take our quiz here!

Ben Sullivan

Ben covers web and technology giants such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft and their impact on the cloud computing industry, whilst also writing about data centre players and their increasing importance in Europe. He also covers future technologies such as drones, aerospace, science, and the effect of technology on the environment.

Recent Posts

Apple Security Flaw Being Actively Exploited

Update now. Vulnerability impacts a number of Apple iPhone, iPad and Mac models, and the…

12 hours ago

Yale University Names Firms Still Operating In Russia

Data from Yale University shows a number of big name tech companies continue to trade…

12 hours ago

Police Arrest Four Over BT Cable Theft In North Yorkshire

Police make arrests after Openreach confirms to Silicon UK that a cable theft left 200…

1 day ago

UK Staff Resisting ‘Big Return’ To The Office, Says infinitSpace

Remote working to stay? Majority of business leaders are struggling to get staff to return…

1 day ago

Apple Axes 100 Recruiters, Amid Hiring Slowdown – Report

Hiring slowdown at Apple? Tech giant reportedly lets go 100 contract-based recruiters in the past…

1 day ago