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World's First Intel®-based Optical PCI Express* Server

Fujitsu announced at its annual Fujitsu Forum that is has worked with Intel to build and demonstrate the world’s first Intel-based Optical PCI Express* (OPCIe*) server. This OPCIe server was enabled by Intel® Silicon Photonics Technology. OPCIe powered servers offer several advantages over non OPCIe-based servers. Rack-based servers, especially 1u and 2u servers are space and power constrained. OEMs and end users want to add additional capabilities such as more storage and CPUs to these servers but are limited because there is simply not enough space or because packing too many components too close to each other increases the heat density and prevents the system’s ability to cool the components.

The solution to the power and space density problems is to locate the storage  and compute components on a remote blade or tray in a way that they appear to the CPU to be on the main motherboard. It is possible to do this with copper cables; however the distance the copper cables can span is limited due to electro-magnetic interference (EMI). One could use amplifiers and signal conditioners but these obviously add power and cost. Additionally, PCI Express cables can be heavy and bulky.

Because signals over optical fibers can go much longer than copper signals, Optical enabled PCI Express becomes a solution to the power and heat density problems. In addition, optical fibers are thin (120um thick) and light weight. While optical fibers and optical communications have existed for decades, OPCIe for servers has not been practical because today’s optical devices are made from expensive and exotic materials and have not been cost practical for data centers.

Intel has been working on Intel® Silicon Photonics (SiPh) for over ten years and has begun the process of productizing SiPh. Because SiPh optics is made out of everyday silicon and manufactured in a CMOS fab, SiPh enjoys the long distance and high bandwidth advantages of optics while doing so at much lower cost than traditional optics.

“We are happy that Fujitsu has selected Intel’s Silicon Photonics Solution” said Mario Paniccia, Intel Fellow and General Manager of the Silicon Photonics Operation at Intel. “This demo of a complete solution is another example of how Intel is driving innovation by offering complete solutions based on Silicon Photonics.”

Fujitsu announced that it has demonstrated an OPCIe enabled server prototype that solves these heat and space density problems through the use of Intel SiPh. The prototype consists of:

  • 2 Fujitsu RX 200 1U* servers. Includes:
    • Intel® Xeon® processor E5 2600
    • Intel® Silicon Photonics Module
    • Intel® Optical PCI Express Gasket IC
  • MXC Optical Connector: Scalable to 1.6 Tbps with ClearCurve* LX fiber, Demonstrated to >300 meters with Intel Silicon Photonics
  • PCIe Expansion Box. Includes:
    • Intel® Silicon Photonics Module
    • Intel® Optical PCI Express Gasket IC
    • 4 Intel® Xeon Phi™ coprocessors

End User Benefits

  • Enables hi-speed, low latency connections for added compute and storage
  • Shared pools of compute and storage
  • Cooling flexibility and lower cost by distributing hot components further apart
PCIe Box

2 Fujitsu RX200 Servers

  • 2 MXC connector with ClearCurve LX fiber
  • 2 100G Intel® Silicon Photonic modules
  • 2 Intel® Optical PCI Express Gasket ICs
  • 2 Intel® Xeon® E5 2600 CPUs

PCI Expansion Box

  • 2 Intel® Xeon Phi™ co-processors
  • 2 100G Intel® Silicon Photonic modules
  • 2 Intel® Optical PCI Express Gasket ICs
  • 2 PCI Express switches
  • 1 Raid Controller
  • 2 SSDs