Intel is one of several companies that have committed $44 billion to USD in Oxide, a startup that wants to change the face of minimalist design on-premise and cloud servers.
Oxide’s mission revolves around providing cloud servers for purchase, not just lease, to companies that are primarily concerned with maintaining their IT infrastructure on-premise. The company combines this approach with the design of purpose-built hardware and software.
Oxide delivers its rack everything assembled in a single box, rather than a “build-and-stack” approach where servers are shipped with additional cables and hardware. There are no hard-coded switching or routing quotas on its servers, and customers can program the switch. The company also replaced the motherboard’s control controller with a service processor capable of power cycling and remote server management.
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The company first laid out the concept of new hardware for servers in 2019 and has since developed its own components and software to manage workloads and networking. According to the company, servers are typically designed to combine layers of software and hardware that move software away from chipsets. But this minimalist approach brings software closer to silicon.
“We felt it was a real shame to have a traditional switch,” said Oxide CTO Bryan Cantrill. HPCWire. “x86 is sort of a colostomy bag on the side of the switch where you have this low-power Xeon D or what have you, the Intel control engine, and a bunch of things that we’ve done. I don’t want it.”
Companies like Google, AWS, and Meta have built lightweight servers like this one by removing parts, but they can’t be purchased, only rented through their services. The likes of Dell and HPE also haven’t built barebones cloud servers yet, so Oxide hopes to jump in.
Its system uses AMD EPYC Milan processors in a compute sled that also includes memory, storage and networking components. It is the backbone of servers and can even handle tasks like VM management, eliminating the need for customers to manage software from VMware or OpenStack.
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