The Open Compute Project’s open hardware standards have done much to push forward the development of cloud-scale hardware. By sharing designs for connectors, racks, servers, switches, and storage hardware, the OCP has defined a new generation of data center technologies and made them widely available – and able to be manufactured at the scale the big public clouds need.
Project Olympus is one of Microsoft’s open hardware designs, shared with OCP members and driven as an open design project with multiple forks of Microsoft’s initial spec. Built around the OCP’s Universal Motherboard specification, Project Olympus is a flexible compute server, with support for Intel, AMD, and ARM64 processors as well as FPGA, GPGPU, and other specialized silicon to add features as needed.
The initial Project Olympus hardware has been joined by a second, deeper chassis design, the Project Olympus Hyperscale GPU Accelerator. The “HGX-1” hosts eight Pascal-class Nvidia GPUs for machine learning workloads. Four HGX-1 servers can be linked together via Nvidia’s NVLink to give you up to 32 GPUS, ideal for complex workloads.
Cloud data centers need lots of hardware, but workloads are moving away from the one-size-fits-all x86 server. The flexible Project Olympus design allows the same chassis to support different motherboards and thus handle the varied workloads running on modern cloud infrastructures. And as it’s open hardware, it can be produced by any manufacturer, ensuring wide availability and low prices.
— Simon Bisson