Cumulus Networks, the leader in building open, modern and scalable networks, announced at OCP Summit that Cumulus Linux is the first network operating system to fully support the Minipack next-generation modular switch platform. Developed by Edgecore and contributed by Facebook to the Open Compute Project, Minipack empowers organizations of all sizes to architect, design and scale their infrastructure with unprecedented flexibility, capacity and interoperability.

Figure 1: Minipack Modular Chassis

Minipack is a modular switch platform, which means together, Cumulus Networks and Edgecore are bringing the benefits of web-scale networking to the mainstream. Minipack follows the open networking principles of disaggregation that allow customers to maintain consistent automated provisioning across all their switches of different form-factors (fixed or chassis).

Minipack leverages the latest ASIC technology from Broadcom including the Tomahawk III, the industry’s highest performance switch silicon. Compared to its predecessor, Backpack, Minipack is ½ the height, uses ½ the power and offers equivalent capacity making it one of the most operationally efficient open networking data center spine switches available today.

Additionally, Minipack offers either 100GE or 400GE options with Field Replaceable Port Interface Modules (PIM)’s in the following form factors:

  • PIM-16Q: Port Interface Module with 16 x QSFP28 100G
  • PIM-4DD: Port Interface Module with 4 x QSFP56-DD 400G

Figure 2: Minipack Front View with PIM-16Q (100G)

Figure 3: Minipack Font View with PIM 4DD (400G)

Figure 4: Components of Switch Main Board (SMB)

The benefits of this joint open platform:

  • Massive bandwidth – Based on Broadcom’s Strata SGS Tomahawk III Switch series, Minipack offers an incredible 12.8Tbps bandwidth in a very compact 4 RU form factor. That’s orders of magnitude more efficient than its predecessor, Backpack.
  • Flexibility – Cumulus Linux allows for a single operational model that spans across more than 100 fixed and modular platforms, allowing for hardware and software to be managed independently and at scale, with fully supported tooling and automation. Minipack delivers flexibility on the hardware side by supporting a mix of 100G and 400G Ethernet interfaces up to a maximum of 128x100G or 32x400G ports.
  • Operational efficiency – Standardizing on Cumulus Linux and Minipack allows organizations to take advantage of automation to limit demands on network engineers enabling them to focus on higher value priorities, mitigate errors and help operators manage more switches effectively. By leveraging Tomahawk III chips, the industry’s highest performing switch silicon, network operators can deploy more efficient networks with the next level of performance and take advantage of the cost economies of merchant silicon.
  • Scalability – Cumulus Networks EVPN is a next-generation control-plane solution for VXLAN tunnels that uses the BGP routing protocol to provide high scale, redundancy, traffic engineering, multi-tenant separation and fast convergence for host and VM mobility — all while interoperating between vendors.

Purchasing Minipack with Cumulus Linux

Minipack will be offered through Cumulus Networks as a Cumulus Express option. All Cumulus Express options come pre-loaded with Cumulus Linux.

Just like with any Cumulus product, Minipack customers can leverage the power of standardization on Linux. This open approach enables unparalleled choice of the best hardware, software, applications and network architectures — all with no vendor lock-in. With the addition of Minipack, we are bringing the benefits of Cumulus Linux and disaggregation to new organizations looking for innovative ways to scale powerful networks.

Figure 5: Cumulus Linux Network OS

You can read the Cumulus Networks press release and Edgecore press release here. For more information, you can read the Minipack data sheet.

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions, or via Twitter at @CicconeScott.