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Paper notes - Jupiter Evolving: Transforming Google's Datacenter Network
Removing the aggregation spine resulted in 5x higher speed and capacity, and 41% reduction in power.
Poutievski et al, 2022. Jupiter Evolving: Transforming Google’s Datacenter Network via Optical Circuit Switches and Software-Defined Networking, in: Proceedings of ACM SIGCOMM 2022. Presented at the SIGCOMM’22, Amsterdam, Netherlands. https://doi.org/10.1145/3544216.3544265
This is a technical paper which describes the evolution of Google’s internal networking architecture, known as Jupiter. It’s mostly focused on the design and operation of the network, but has some interesting lessons relating to power consumption.
The main energy-relevant innovationis the move from a Clos network design to a direct-connect topology among the machine aggregation blocks. This removes the aggregation spine, which means the associated switches and optical networking components are no longer needed.
The removal of the spine sections is responsible for the majority of reduced power consumption, resulting in 5x higher speed and capacity, 30% reduction in capexand 41% reduction in power.
In the past, power consumption had fallen even as capacity increased, allowing for improved network energy efficiency. However, those gains were slowing.
The expected diminishing returns might have led some to predict that we’d see an energy efficiency plateau even as demand continues to increase. Instead, we have a major shift in approach which means power consumption is not following those expectations.
This is important because many predictions of high power consumption by data centers, networks, and IT in general, extrapolate from past trends. A point made in the recent Joule paper I co-authored discussed how technology trends are the source of considerable uncertainty.
We can’t rely on these types of technology improvements precisely because they are so unpredictable, but this is a good example of the right incentives pushing innovation in the right direction. The challenge is how to model them - making predictions more than a few years (or even just 6-12 months!) into the future is generally a bad idea.
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The other changes included switching to optical circuit switches and a centralized SDN control plane.
There is also the associated embodied energy in the equipment that no longer needs to be deployed. This isn’t a lifecycle analysis paper, so that isn’t considered other than in capex.