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ARM over Intel in the Data Center?

Here’s an interesting article from Wired a few months ago detailing why chip maker ARM may be ready to make a run at Intel in terms of network equipment inside a data center…

Researchers at HP, chipmaker ARM, and Facebook have dreamt up a new breed of server processor specifically designed to provide quick and efficient access to information on the web’s most popular services.

In a paper due to be published next month, the researchers propose a chip that’s custom-built to run Memcached, a popular open source software platform that lets services like Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia speed the delivery of data to the world’s web surfers. In building this chip, you would start with a low-power processor not unlike the one in your cell phone, but then you would add hardware that could help Memcached zip information across a data center network.

It’s an intriguing design, but more importantly, it provides a glimpse into how server chips are likely to change over the coming years — and how this will effect the competitive landscape among chipmakers. Today, Intel owns this market because it makes inexpensive general-purpose processors that run extremely fast. ARM’s chips aren’t as powerful, but the company has something else going for it. ARM licenses its designs to a wide range of chip makers who can then modify them and build all sorts of specialized gear — gear like the system-on-chip proposed in this new paper.

via The Real Reason ARM Will Menace Intel in the Data Center | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com.

Intel Unveils Optical Technology to Kill Copper Cables and Make Data Centers Run Faster

While this appears to be the work of a lone manufacturer (instead of an industry standard), Intel is the 900 pound gorilla, especially when some key customers like Facebook commit to using it.

Intel hopes to make computing far more efficient by introducing a technology that replaces conventional copper data cables with faster optical data links. The breakthrough required Intel to fit lasers and other optical components onto silicon chips, which usually deal only with electronic signals.The initial version of what Intel calls its silicon photonics technology can transmit data at speeds of 100 gigabits per second along a cable approximately five millimeters in diameter. Intel will offer it for use connecting servers inside data centers, where it can take the place of PCI-E data cables that carry data at up to eight gigabits per second and networking cables that reach 40 gigabits per second at best….

…The current form of the technology was shaped by feedback from companies including Facebook, Microsoft, and cloud hosting company Rackspace, some of which have committed to using the technology, says Paniccia.

via Intel Unveils Optical Technology to Kill Copper Cables and Make Data Centers Run Faster | MIT Technology Review.

802.11ac Wireless Devices Starting to Show Up

airport

A brief overview of the new 802.11ac standard for wireless networks:

802.11ac is “a faster and more scalable version of 802.11n,” according to a Cisco whitepaper on the subject. It’s designed to offer wireless speeds of up to 1.3 Gigabits per second. That’s more than double the bandwidth of the current standard, 802.11n. On the scalability front, it allows for up to eight multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) streams and multi-user MIMO. 802.11n, the standard we’ve been using for a few years now, stopped at four streams.

It also utilizes a technique called beamforming, which directs a concentrated wireless signal to a specific area — in this case, the 802.11ac wireless device you’re using. In order for beamforming to work, you need a router or base station that supports it, and a device capable of talking to the router.

via What 802.11ac Networking Is, And Why You Want It | Gadget Lab | Wired.com.

Photo of Apple’s new Airport Extreme via iFixit.

Google now has a Wireless Spectrum Database

white space spectrum

What are TV white spaces?

One important form of unlicensed spectrum is TV white spaces, unused channels in the broadcast television spectrum band. Many parts of the world have dozens of open TV channels, especially in rural areas, that can travel distances up to 10 miles. The FCC, Ofcom, and other regulators are providing a path to allow Wi-Fi to broadcast over unused TV channels. White spaces could help bridge the digital divide by providing wireless internet to rural areas and help enable technology innovation.

via Google Spectrum Database.

Google – continuing to do the opposite of evil things (most of the time).

Category 8 update from Anixter

There’s a lot of consensus within the industry to develop the next generation standard. As we are developing these standards, there is going to be a lot of market confusion as to what is the appropriate media type to use for speeds beyond 10 Gig Ethernet. On the TIA side, there’s the next generation task force group that’s actually working on the next generation cabling specification. The term that they’re currently using for the cabling system is Category 8. There are a few things that we know about Category 8:

1. Up to 50 meters

2. At least two connectors

3. Shielding to be determined—a lot of deliberation in the communities as to what is the appropriate media type.

via Category 8 | Anixter.

Click through for news from the IEEE side of things.

Photo via Flickr user vonKinder.

Hack And Tell Kansas City – A Show & Tell For Developers

Are you a developer? Have you built a tool, hack or cool library?

It’s time to get off the Internet and tell us about it face to face.

We’ll provide you with our honest feedback, you provide us with a great hack or idea.

We’re language and software/hardware agnostic, so it’s all fair game.

After you present, it’s an open forum. The audience will ask questions and provide feedback.

We want to enable as much participation as possible at these meetups, so you’d better be able to take criticism and dish it out (all within reason of course).

via Hack And Tell Kansas City – A Show & Tell For Developers – Kansas City IT Professionals.

The event is next Thursday, February 28th, 2013. Click through the link to register. It’s at Barkley in downtown Kansas City (MO).

The Great Convergence: AV and IT

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I am watching my SEs—all networking experts interact with our AV vendor partners’ SEs. I think IT guys will have no trouble getting the systems installed and functioning… to a point. They will have trouble tuning the DSPs to make great sound. So I think the hardware sales will be reduced for simpler equipment but I think there will be little effect for the kit used to “paint” with sound.

I think as IT buyers begin to understand this they will reach out and want the sound part designed and installed by people with that tuning skill. They will do the “enable the network” part. The installation, I think, will also be left to the AV installer, except for the IT backbone connections, which IT will supply.

It’s the last sentence that I’m working on for our in-house master specification. Where do we want the AV contractor to stop and the Telecom contractor to begin?

Photo via Flickr user dmitrybarsky