HPE joins Gen-Z Consortium to launch a new open computer interconnect standard

The Gen-Z Consortium is a new open industry group devoted to creating an open interconnect standard. Hewlett Packard Enterprise is pleased to announce that we have joined this group.

Gen-Z is a computer interconnect standard that uses memory semantics and modern PHY designs to offer high-performance, low-latency connectivity to large amounts of next generation memory devices at chassis and rack scale. Its characteristics also make it an excellent choice for node-node connectivity, pools of accelerators, and efficient bridging to existing datacenter fabrics like Ethernet or Infiniband.

It is being administered by the Gen-Z Consortium, an industry group that currently includes AMD, ARM, Broadcom, Cavium, Cray, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei, IBM, IDT, Lenovo, Mellanox, Micron, Microsemi, Red Hat, Samsung, Seagate, SkHynix, Western Digital, and Xilinx, with others expected to join soon.

What makes this consortium distinct is that it is as open as the standard it promotes.

“We’re looking at a future where we need to manipulate much bigger data sets much more rapidly than we can today. To do that we need more powerful computers and we don’t think we can build those computers using the interconnects we have today,” said Richard Lewington, Technical Communicator for Hewlett Packard Labs.

The industry currently needs more speed, the ability to address a bigger memory space, and more flexibility, which Gen-Z is designed to provide.

Open sesame

“Open standards drive the IT industry’s innovation engine,” said Ron Noblett, Vice President, Advanced Architecture Development CTO Group, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

As examples of that process, Noblett mentioned the now-ubiquitous Universal Serial Bus.

“USB is now a regular feature of nearly every device imaginable: phones, PCs, televisions, even cars and IoT devices,” said Noblett. “USB was an open standard to replace dedicated keyboard, mouse, serial and printer ports with a single, plug-and-play solution.

“We hope to see Gen-Z take the same path, be widely adopted and ignite a broad wave of innovation across the IT industry,” he said.

The consortium has “a very open governance model,” according to Keith McAuliffe, VP and Chief Technologist, Servers. “The Gen-Z Consortium does not have a permanent executive committee, like some standards bodies. Every year after the first two years, anyone who is at the appropriate tier can run and be on the board. Founding members have no automatic right to a permanent board seat.”

This structure is aimed at creating a very democratic organization and inspiring contributions by every member.

Darn good design

“From a technical perspective, the Gen-Z standard is based on a darn good fabric design,” said McAuliffe. “It’s open for rapid innovation and it’s very scalable, with lightweight and very feature-rich implementation.”

With data exploding and the time value of answers being so high, the swiftness of the protocol is a real advantage. Based on non-volatile memory, this protocol brings the compute to the data, allowing the data to be accessed like memory.

For the “end IT guy,” the benefits will include the ability to access storage-class memory in an individual chassis, providing a dramatic app performance improvement.

From the business end, CTOs will recognize the value of being able to process huge amounts of data and get high-value answers in a short period of time, which could provide the company using it with a competitive edge.

“We have a rich history in HPE of innovating from within for our unique benefit,” said McAuliffe. “Something the scale of Gen-Z is so big, that the best way to get it established is to collaborate and implement together as an industry. Gen-Z will set a new architectural baseline for years of future innovation, whether by HPE or others.” said McAuliffe.


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