Cloud network traffic is expected to more than double every two years and have increasingly stringent latency requirements. This trend is at odds with the possibility that electrical network switches may not continue to scale in line with Moore’s law. These disruptions necessitate a rethink of the cloud network.
Project Sirius is investigating whether ultra-fast optical switching within data centers could allow us to sidestep these disruptions. It aims to develop an all-optical, data-center-wide network that is completely flat, in contrast to the hierarchy of electrical switches used today. By eliminating the inefficiencies of hierarchy and leveraging the strengths of optics, such a network could provide better and more predictable performance with higher reliability and at lower cost.
Sirius builds upon recent advancements in nanosecond-granularity optical switching and increasing maturity of the optical fabrication ecosystem. It opens up the exciting opportunity of completely rethinking the cloud network stack from the ground up. This, we believe, can enable new cloud applications and scenarios that are difficult to support today.
While Sirius re-imagines the network within data centers, we are also developing optical network technologies for future regional and WAN networks (Project Iris). Both these efforts are part of our Optics for the Cloud push whereby we aim to innovate across the cloud stack by co-designing the cloud’s software and hardware infrastructure. Our cross-disciplinary team thus spans the entire stack, with experience in systems and networking, optics (system, sub-system and device-level), and hardware.