New-Tech Europe Magazine | Q2 2021

The Future of Adaptive Computing: The Composable Data Center

Salil Raje, EVP and GM Xilinx Data Center Group

Most of us are still meeting with our co-workers via online video conferencing after the paradigm shift caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. You are probably not thinking much of what it takes to stream all the content and feeds from your meetings. But if you’re a data center operator you probably haven’t been getting a lot of sleep over the past year worrying about how to handle the unprecedented pandemic surge in video traffic. Not only that, but data centers these days must handle an explosion of unstructured data from a broad range of workloads like video conferencing, streaming content, online gaming and e-commerce. Many of these applications are very sensitive to latency and are also subject to ever-evolving standards for compression, encryption and database architectures.

This has forced data centers to scale up their infrastructure to meet the performance and latency requirements of a variety of demanding workloads, while at the same time trying to minimize cost and power consumption. That’s proving to be very difficult, and it’s forcing data center operators to rethink their current architecture and explore new configurations that are inherently more scalable and efficient. Currently most data centers have racks with fixed sets of resources, combining SSDs, CPUs and Accelerators in a single server. While this ensures a high bandwidth connection between compute and storage, it is very inefficient in terms of resource utilization, since there’s a fixed ratio of storage and compute in every server. As workloads require a different mix of compute and storage, islands of unused resources are left in each server.

Composable Infrastructure A new architecture is emerging that promises to make a dramatic improvement in resource utilization. It’s known as “composable infrastructure”. Composable infrastructure entails decoupling resources and instead pooling them together and making them accessible from anywhere. Composable infrastructures enable the provisioning of workloads with just the right amount of resources, and rapid reconfiguration via software. A composable architecture with pools of CPUs, SSDS and accelerators that are networked together and controlled by a standards-based provisioning framework promises vastly improved data center resource efficiency. In such an architecture, different workloads might have different compute, storage and acceleration requirements, and those resources

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