Google Calls for Switch Chip API

Release time:2017-04-04
source:EE TIMES

SAN JOSE, Calif. – A Google executive called for a common API to swap Ethernet switches in and out of networks as easily as a new server. The interface could pave the way for an emerging crop of Ethernet chips that aim to disrupt Broadcom’s dominance in the sector.

“Right now there’s no standard API for switches so when plug in a new switch, we do that work ourselves,” said Amin Vahdat, technical lead for networking at Google, in an interview with EE Times at the Open Networking Summit.

The interface is just one of many missing puzzle pieces for Web giants and network operators migrating to software-defined networks (SDN). Google and AT&T both reported progress on their decade-long shift from networks based on ASICs and vendor-specific protocols to ones running functions in software on generic servers and switches.

The effort to plug a new switch into a data center network is “dramatically different” than inserting a new server, Vahdat told EE Times. “That really holds back the market,” he said, adding he hopes to rally a group of chip vendors and customers to define the new interface within a year.

Today, Broadcom’s chips are used in more than 90 percent of Ethernet switches. Cavium’s XPliant has gained design wins at Arista and Brocade, and AT&T announced it tested chips from startup Barefoot Networks among others. Meanwhile startup Innovium and Mediatek spin-out Nephos are vying for a slice of the market with established players including China’s Centec Networks, Marvell and Mellanox.

The rising competition is expected to drive down switch prices from recent highs of $60 per 100-Gbit/s port, or almost $2,000 per chip in 2016. But big users such as Google need a common API and test suite for qualifying the new switches.

“We want to support a range of switches, [but] now we have to do a fair amount of work to integrate [them],” Vahdat said.

In addition, the new chips need to provide hardware support for detecting and routing around network faults. Although the new chips do a good job “pushing the envelope of speed, [they] take a single-switch view of the world,” he said, calling for chips that cooperate across a network of many switches from multiple vendors.

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Jillian D'Onfro | CNBCAn atypical spirit of tech worker solidarity was on display Thursday morning, as 20,000 Google employees poured from offices in 50 cities around the world as part of a massive walk-out to protest the way the company handles sexual harassment.The widespread demonstrations, spurred by a revealing New York Times report that detailed how Google has shielded executives accused of sexual misconduct, were the largest-scale representation yet of a new type of labor organizing catching on in the tech industry.Brishen Rogers, an associate professor at Temple University who specializes in the relationship between labor and technological development, says that the scale of yesterday's demonstrations amazed him."I've never seen anything like this in the tech sector," says Rogers. "The numbers and level of coordination involved in the Google strike was unprecedented."One Google employee, who asked for anonymity since they weren't authorized to speak about the company, says that Thursday's protests felt like lightning striking in how fast they came together.A family or a job?Collective bargaining hasn't traditionally had a place in Silicon Valley. Unions are nearly non-existent for white-collar tech workers, who typically enjoy large salaries, cushy perks and plenty of career mobility thanks to their high-demand skills.Wendy Liu, the economics editor of UK-based publication "New Socialist" and a former Google employee, says that the protests overall were "incredibly inspiring" as the idea of employee dissent spreads in Silicon Valley."For tech workers to even think of themselves as workers — with the implication that their class interests may run counter to that of their bosses — is an exciting development," she says."Tech companies often try to get employees to see themselves as 'team members,' and part of a 'family' who should feel love and even gratitude for their company."She, too, felt that way when she was at Google, she says, before realizing how unhealthy that dynamic was for workers.On Thursday, Google employees borrowed tactics from historical labor organizing. In their statement of demands, the protest's leading organizers linked themselves to movements like the teachers strike in West Virginia and the "Fight for $15" demonstrations by fast-food workers.Indeed, the San Francisco demonstration was even held in Harry Bridges Plaza — Bridges was an influential union leader in the early 20th century — and speakers spoke of his and other examples of historical labor organizing. Demonstrators in San Francisco also talked about the simultaneous union strikes by Marriott employees.Blue-collar workers at major tech companies, like Facebook's cafeteria workers and Bay Area security guards, have started unionizing over the past several years. In another sign of the burgeoning "new tech resistance," organizers of Google's protests were deliberate about including those contract workers in their demands.Tech firms are increasingly hiring contractors, vendors, and temps (TVCs), which can boost profits and speed up hiring. However, those workers typically make less, shoulder higher benefits costs, and lack the job security of direct employees. Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported the astounding stat that Alphabet employed more TVCs than direct employees. No small feat, as Alphabet had 85,050 direct staffers at the time.Jillian D'Onfro | CNBCGoogle employees hold signs at the protest in Mountain View, California. Many demonstrators at Google's Mountain View headquarters leaned into the idea that the only way to achieve their demands — which include the end of private arbitration, a transparency report about sexual harassment, more disclosures about compensation and an employee representative on the company's board — were only possible if all employees at every level of the company were active and included."I'm here because every one of our voices matter and if we are not standing together the necessary changes won't happen," one employee protester told CNBC.Many of the employees who spoke on stage or to CNBC from the crowd declined to give their full names. The Tech Workers Coalitionis organizing a retaliation hotline, which employees will be able to call if they face retribution for their participation in the walk-out.Michelle Castillo | CNBCGoogle employees walked out on November 1, 2018 to protest what organizers describe as "a workplace culture that's not working for everyone."A woman named Sheree who spoke on stage elicited particularly loud cheers when she challenged attendees to think about how their advocacy would extend beyond a one day event."Showing up today is a really good start," she said. "But to be a true ally you have to sacrifice something. What will you sacrifice?""This doesn't end today"Over the last year, there's been an increase in tech industry organizing, as workers have banded together to try to compel their employers to drop controversial projects or take a stand against government policies.At Alphabet's shareholders' meeting earlier this year, a group of employees bucked leadership by presenting a proposal that called for Alphabet's executive compensation to be tied to diversity metrics. Employees also rebuked the company's lack of transparency around leaked plans fora censored search app in China and a controversial Pentagon contract. In June, following intense employee backlash, Google's cloud unit said that it would not renew contract next year."The Google walkout amplifies the wave of tech worker organizing that we see in #TechWontBuildIt and #NoTechforICE," says Sasha Constanza-Chock, associate professor of civic media at MIT who co-authored a recent open letter calling on Microsoft to drop its ICE contract. "It also links tech worker organizing with #MeToo, just as #NoTechforICE links tech worker organizing with immigrant rights."Activists see Google's blow-out protests as being a bellwether for more organizing to come.Employees from other tech companies in San Francisco joined in the Google walk-out on Thursday, and the Tech Workers Coalition says that in the last year its has attracted more interest, and seen an increase in both email subscribers and actual events."We are organizing to build worker power through rank and file self-organization and education," a spokesperson says. "It's clear the executives won't do this for us, so we're taking matters into our own hands."While changing Google's culture will be a long haul, Google organizers' demands were specific and actionable. Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who spoke on stage at a conference the day of the protests, has not committed to any changes, but told employees in a memo that his team was taking in feedback to "turn ideas into action." Even though Google workers have no legal rights to collectively bargain with management without a union, the energy at the demonstrations indicated that employees will not give up quickly.Celie O'Neil-Hart, one of the leaders of the protest who works at YouTube, rallied employees at the end of the protest to keep the momentum going."This doesn't end today," she bellowed over a loudspeaker in Mountain View. "Let's keep this effort going. Time is up in tech. Time is up at Google."
2018-11-05 00:00 reading:382
Roger Carpenter, a Google hardware engineer with 30 years of experience in electronic design automation and chip design, has been elected to the Silicon Integration Initiative board of directors. Si2 is a research and development joint venture that provides standard interoperability solutions for integrated circuit design tools.Before joining Google, Carpenter held executive roles at three EDA firms: Magma Design Automation, Javelin Design Automation and Envis. His design experience includes positions at Wave Computing, Broadcom, Chromatic Research and Xilinx. A holder of more than a dozen patents, Carpenter received a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.John Ellis, Si2 president and CEO, said that Google’s membership on the Si2 board reflects the increasing impact of vertical integration in the electronics industry.  “A recent Si2 industry survey showed that over 80 percent of our end users develop some specialized, internal design tools. This proprietary software meets their unique needs and performance requirements,” Ellis said.“Directly accessing the Si2 OpenAccess data base by making use of our Application Programming Interface, designers and integrators have greater control over their bottom line by optimizing their design flow and, in turn, shortening product time-to-market. It’s critical that system houses like Google, along with their unique semiconductor design software needs, are now represented on the Si2 board.”The twelve members of the Si2 board represent leading semiconductor manufacturers and foundries, fabless companies, and EDA software providers.
2018-08-30 00:00 reading:382
Beck Diefenbach | ReutersGoogle CEO Sundar Pichai takes the stage during the presentation of new Google hardware in San Francisco on Oct. 4, 2016.Ever since its founding 20 years ago in a Silicon Valley garage, Google has proudly and often ostentatiously held itself up as the architect of a new model for corporate virtue."Google is not a conventional company," the search engine's founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, told investors as part of the initial public offering in 2004. Google, they said, would always put long-term values over short-term financial gain. "Making the world a better place" would be a primary business goal, and Google's ethical compass could be summed up in a simple and celebrated motto: "Don't be evil."In the years since, Google's once-revolutionary sensibility has been adopted and watered down by much of the rest of the tech industry, becoming the stuff of parody and skepticism. Google itself has played down its former zealousness; Alphabet, its parent company, recently dropped some references to "don't be evil" from its code of conduct.Still, if you work at Google or have bought into its missionary brand, you can point to moments when its ethos did rise to something more than marketing puffery. The most obvious example: In 2010, after four years of attempting to operate a censored search engine in China under a regime there that was becoming increasingly hostile to online freedoms, Google did something that a more conventional company would not have done. It said that it had had enough, and pulled its search engine out of the massive market.Now, Google appears to be changing its mind. Under a plan called Dragonfly, the company has been testing a censored version of its search engine for the Chinese market. In a meeting with employees last week, Sundar Pichai, Google's chief executive, said that "we are not close to launching" a search engine in China, but he defended the company's exploration of the market.More from The New York Times:Amazon's Ripple Effect on Grocery Industry: Rivals Stock Up on Start-UpsApple Buys Rights to Series Based on New York Times Climate Change ArticleSlack Raises $427 Million More, at $7.1 Billion ValuationThe defenses are not unsound. Under any rational business sense, it would be insane to expect one of the world's largest internet companies to stay out of the world's largest internet market, especially when many of Google's American rivals happily operate under that government's intrusive rules. China is Apple's third-largest market, and Microsoft and Amazon both offer a host of services there.But wasn't standing apart supposed to be the hallmark of Google's Googliness? Leaving China was the kind of unorthodox decision the search company once reveled in — a move that sacrificed financial prosperity for the moral high ground, that showed employees and customers that Google, with its planet-swallowing mission to organize all of life's information, was motivated by something deeper than financial ambition.Activists for online freedoms worry that Google's return would have dangerous real-world consequences, perhaps accelerating a great new wave of online restrictions in China and elsewhere. But the most lasting impact might be in how we would have to reimagine what kind of company Google was and what it stood for.It is hard not to see how going back to China would be anything other than a terrific comedown — the most telling act of a company that, day by day, has come to resemble the utterly conventional corporation it once vowed never to become."If Google wants to be judged like any other global company, that's fine," said Ben Wizner, director of the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. "They should just say so — that their principal obligation is to their shareholders and their bottom line. But that has not been the rhetoric coming out of Google, and I think it's fair to judge them by the standards they have set for themselves."In a statement, a Google spokesman said that "we don't comment on speculation about future plans." But the company's leaders have disputed the idea that returning to China would be a moral reversal. At last week's staff meeting, Mr. Pichai suggested that returning to China would be in accord with the vision the company had in 2006, when it first agreed to censor results to accommodate Beijing.At the time, the company said in a blog post that "filtering our search results clearly compromises our mission" but added, "Failing to offer Google search at all to a fifth of the world's population, however, does so far more severely."Mr. Pichai underlined this argument — that providing some access to the outside world is better than none — by citing his experience growing up in India."My dad worked for a U.K. company, and they went through whether they should be in India or should they pull out," he told Google's staff, according to a transcript obtained by The New York Times. "And they stayed, and that made a difference for my dad. And in all likelihood, I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for that."There are other factors behind Google's potential reversal. The internet has changed a great deal since 2010, and the company's executives have increasingly come to see their decision to leave China as rash, naïve and ultimately counterproductive.Google's decision was set in motion by a Chinese hack into its services that was meant to uncover dissidents and spies. The attack shocked and angered Google's founders. In interviews, Mr. Brin, who was born in the Soviet Union, compared the Chinese government to the "totalitarian forces" that had shaped his youth. He and other executives suggested that taking a stand in China might set a kind of red line for repressive regimes elsewhere."I think that in the long term, they are going to have to open," Mr. Brin told The Times.Since then, China's rules have only hardened, while a host of other governments have stepped up efforts to police speech online.Now even many democratic governments are adopting stringent curbs on online speech. For instance, in Europe, a "right to be forgotten" rule has forced Google and other search engines to remove results that are judged to invade people's privacy, and more rules governing hate speech and propaganda are in the works. Meanwhile, Edward Snowden's leaks showed that the American and British governments have also hacked large internet companies, including Google."This argument makes me very sad: The world is becoming more like China, so therefore we might as well be in China," said Rebecca MacKinnon, an internet freedom advocate at New America, a think tank.She said that advocates of free speech and human rights had long found Google to be an ally in their efforts, and that a reversal in China would be regarded as a major defeat."I wrote a book where I warned that China is Exhibit A for how authoritarian governments adapt to the internet and then begin to change the internet," Ms. MacKinnon said. "And if companies like Google are now throwing in the towel and saying, 'Well, that's where the internet is going' and 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em' — well, that's deeply troubling."If Google does go back to China, it will likely have to agree to an even more restrictive censorship regime than what it tolerated previously. Mr. Pichai has vowed to be transparent about how such a plan might roll out. But advocates said transparency alone would not mitigate their worries about Google's shift."If Google is trying to promote openness and free societies, then transparency is going to be an insufficient way to make this better," said Mr. Wizner of the A.C.L.U. "The transparency would be aimed at the rest of the world. Google wouldn't be telling Chinese people, 'Here's what you can't see.'"Sure, it's early, and Google's plans are not clear. There remains the possibility that Google will think of some completely nontraditional way to satisfy China's censors without losing its soul.But that seems unlikely. The more plausible conclusion is the more obvious one: Google took on China, and Google lost."Make no mistake," said Michael Posner, a professor of ethics and finance at New York University's Stern School of Business. "This will be a huge victory for the Chinese government and anyone else who wants to severely restrict the internet."
2018-08-23 00:00 reading:401
Google is welcome to return to China but only if it complies with the law, according to an opinion piece by state-backed newspaper People's Daily, after reports surfaced that the U.S. technology giant is planning to launch a censored version of its search service on the mainland.The Information first broke the news last week that Alphabet-owned Google is planning to re-launch its search engine in China and that it would blacklist certain websites and search terms. Google originally left China in 2010 over concerns regarding censorship.Google's reported move has raised concerns from privacy advocates because it would block material online that the Chinese government does not like. But the country's state-backed media has taken a different view."Regardless of its withdrawal, or whether it can regain access to the mainland, Google has been a politicized brand. This is undoubtedly a tragedy for this well-known multinational company," People's Daily wrote in an article published Monday."The decision to exit the Chinese market was a huge blunder, which made the company miss golden chances in the mainland's internet development."People's Daily said Google is "welcome to return to the mainland, but it's a prerequisite that it must comply with the requirements of the law."Those requirements are essentially policed by Beijing's so-called Great Firewall, which is a huge policy of censorship. For example, Google can't be accessed right now by most Chinese internet users. And many other services, including Facebook, are also blocked. Some websites can also be censored if they are deemed unfavorable.The link to the opinion piece is broken but CNBC made a screen grab of the page before it mysteriously disappeared.CNBC | People's DailyState-backed People's Daily in China wrote an opinion piece about reports regarding Google bringing back its search engine to the mainland. People's Daily tried to justify Beijing's stance on online censorship saying that "no country will allow the internet to be filled with pornography, violence, subversive messages, ethnic separatism, religious extremism, racism and terrorism." This is false, of course, as pornography and racism can be found online in many parts of the world.Google did not specifically comment on the People's Daily article but pointed CNBC towards the original statement it released when the story first broke, in which it said that it provides a number of apps in China and has made significant investments in companies on the mainland, such as "But we don't comment on speculation about future plans," a spokesperson said.Baidu: We will win againThe CEO of Baidu, the biggest search engine in China, responded to the news Google could launch a rival product. Robin Li said that Google would need to contend with the strength of Chinese companies."Over the years, our industrial environment and scale of development have undergone earth-shaking changes. Chinese technology companies have already taken the lead in the world in discovering new issues and serving new demands. The world is copying from China. This is what every international company that wants to enter the Chinese market needs to confront and think about," Li said in a status update on messaging service WeChat.Li said that Google launched its search service in China before Baidu. But when Google withdrew its search engine from China in 2010, its market share was in decline and Li claimed this was because Baidu had surpassed the U.S. firm with "technology and product innovation.""If Google comes back now, we can... win again, for real," Li said.Google declined to respond to Li's comments.
2018-08-08 00:00 reading:414
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