From Silicon to System: How Hyper-scale Impacts Your Design

Brad Booth

Brad Booth, Principal Service Engineer, Networking


On April 15, 2015, I am delivering a keynote address titled “From Silicon to System: How Hyper-scale Impacts Your Design” at the Ethernet Technology Summit being held at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Microsoft’s network is the second largest in the world. Even with such a large footprint in the Ethernet industry, many vendors and suppliers can hardly fathom the size of our network. It’s bigger than Enterprise, bigger than mega-scale… to the point that Microsoft coined a new term: hyper-scale. At this scale, a change that may seem insignificant when you look at one switch or one network interface card gets magnified by the million or more devices we have in our networks. Talk about an excellent example of the butterfly effect.


In my keynote, I plan to talk about technologies that Microsoft is involved in: hierarchical SDN (HSDN), flexible Ethernet (FlexE) and consortium for on-board optics (COBO).


HSDN is an effort that Microsoft initiated in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to get past the issues being faced with the size of forwarding tables required in switches.


FlexE is a project in the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) to permit Ethernet devices to scale with better granularity to the network requirements. For example, if a link between datacenters is only capable of 75 Gb/s throughput, it is better to operate the link at that rate rather than a standardized sub-rate.


COBO is a Microsoft initiated effort to move the optical modules used in our network equipment away from the faceplate to inside the system. This will help reduce power while improving the airflow and efficiency of the network equipment as we continue to scale bandwidth beyond 100 Gigabit Ethernet.  


The Microsoft network team has been engaging the industry to help them understand the butterfly effect when operating a hyper-scale network. We hope these efforts will help the Microsoft Cloud better serve our customer’s needs, while providing an agile, scalable, reliable, visible, and efficient network. I hope I will see you at the Ethernet Technology Summit.