About the Gen-Z Consortium
Gen-Z: An open systems Interconnect designed to provide memory semantic access to data and devices via direct-attached, switched or fabric topologies.
The Gen-Z Consortium is made up of leading computer industry companies dedicated to creating and commercializing a new data access technology. The consortium’s 12 initial members were; AMD, ARM, Broadcom, Cray, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei, IDT, Micron, Samsung, SK hynix, and Xilinx with that list expanding daily as reflected on our Member List.
Gen-Z was developed to enhance existing solution architectures and enable new solutions architectures while delivering new levels of performance (high-bandwidth, low-latency), software efficiency, power optimizations, and industry agility. Gen-Z technologies can be transparently inserted into any solution with no operating system or middleware software changes required.
The Gen-Z consortium strongly believes in developing an open ecosystem where members, the broader industry, and customers can work together to deliver robust, high-quality specifications that meet solution needs. The Gen-Z consortium will periodically publicly post draft specifications and technical concepts to elicit input from the broader industry and directly from customers.
Gen-Z Consortium Mission
Create a next generation interconnect that will bridge existing solutions while enabling new unbounded innovation developed in an open, non-proprietary standards body where adoption, differentiation and innovation is promoted as an industry standard.
Create a new Industry consortium to develop and promote Gen-Z that adheres to the following four principles of an open and non-proprietary organization.
- A transparent organization: Gen-Z has been formed as a not-for-profit organization, its ongoing development occurs on the basis of an open decision-making procedure available to all interested parties.
- Wide availability: The Gen-Z standard will be published and available free of charge.
- End-user choice: There are no constraints on the reuse of the standard. Gen-Z creates a fair, competitive market for implementations of the standard.
- Equality: Gen-Z does not favor one implementer over another.
Customers are demanding new levels of performance, functionality, security to solve the growing challenges associated with processing and analyzing huge amounts of data in real-time while avoiding today’s system bottlenecks and security risks. After many months of investigation, the member companies determined that a new, comprehensive data access technology was required: One that could support a wide range of new storage class memory media, new hybrid and data-centric computing technologies, new memory-centric solution architectures, and a wide range of applications using a highly-efficient and performance-optimized solution stack.
Gen-Z is the solution, an open systems interconnect designed to provide memory semantic access to data and devices via direct-attached, switched or fabric topologies. This means Gen-Z will allow any device to communicate with any other device as if it were communicating with its own local memory using super-simple commands, sometimes called load/store protocol, we refer to it as a “memory semantic communications” because it uses the same language as local memory does today. Memory-semantic communications are used to move data between buffers located on different components with minimal overhead. For example, Gen-Z-attached memory can be mapped into a processor memory management unit (MMU) such that any processor load, store, or atomic operation is transparently translated into Gen-Z read, write, or atomic operation and transported to the destination memory component. Similarly, Gen-Z supports buffer put and get operations to move up to 232 bytes of data between buffers without any processor involvement.
This leads to much simpler software and hardware and it is this simplicity that drives the performance and lower costs. Gen-Z will provide this memory semantic connectivity to devices including System on a Chip (SoC), data accelerators, storage, and memory on the motherboard and beyond the motherboard to rack scale. In practice that means that Gen-Z will deliver businesses more flexibility, performance, efficiency, and choice in the design and configuration of their core datacenter technology investments, all connected in a unifying industry standard interconnect via memory semantics.
Gen-Z provides the following technical benefits:
- Memory media independence: Gen-Z abstracts the memory media to enable any type and mix of DRAM and non-volatile memory (NVM) to be directly accessed by applications or through block-semantic communications.
- High-bandwidth, low-latency: Very efficient, memory-semantic protocol that simplifies hardware and software designs, reducing solution cost and complexity. Gen-Z supports a wide-range of signaling rates and link widths that enable solutions to scale from 10s to 100s of GB/s of bandwidth.
- Multipath: Multipath increases aggregate component performance, enables very high signaling rates (up to 112 GT/s), enables solution resiliency to prevent loss of data access, and enables traffic segregation to enable services and applications to be isolated from one another.
- Scalability: Scales from the simple point-to-point optimized solutions to rack-scale, switch-based topologies without sacrificing performance or solution flexibility.
- Advanced workloads and technologies: Supports hybrid and data-centric computing to deliver the performance and power-optimized solutions.
- Compatible and economical: Can be transparently incorporated into any solution without requiring operating system or middleware software modifications. Supports a wide range of existing mechanical form factors and cables to enable Gen-Z to be easily integrated into any solution.
Gen-Z provides the following industry and customer benefits:
- Gen-Z abstracts memory media from the memory controller to enable the industry to deploy a wide-range of memory media without waiting for the industry to move in lock step. This enables new media types or multiple generations of a given media type to be transparently supported in any solution. It also enables customers to independently replace and upgrade components based on their needs: e.g., processors, memory modules, NVM modules, etc.
- Gen-Z specifies a highly-efficient and flexible protocol capable of supporting a wide range of application needs. Gen-Z simplifies hardware and software designs, reducing complexity, overheads, and end-to-end latency. Simple, efficient solution stacks are easier to deploy and secure, speeds innovation, and reduces development and support costs.
- Gen-Z supports a robust hardware-enforced isolation and security framework to help protect customer solutions from cyber threats. Components and resources can be isolated to prevent unauthorized access. Data plane and control plane communications can be fully authenticated to prevent tampering and anti-replay attacks. Further, data payloads can be encrypted using customer-driven algorithms and policies
- Encryption is performed within the source and destination components and is not specified by Gen-Z).
- Gen-Z interoperability enables the architecture to simultaneously and efficiently transport standard and customized communications between components. This enables customers and vendors to rapidly innovate and deploy new capabilities and services without waiting for the industry to move in lock-step.
Gen-Z promotes innovation in multiple ways:
- Gen-Z breaks the processor-memory interlock to enable new types of memory media to be transparently deployed at an accelerated rate.
- Gen-Z supports a wide variety of component types including processors, memory modules, FPGAs, GPU / GPGPU, DSP, I/O, accelerators, NICs, custom ASICs, and many more.
- Gen-Z supports a wide range of physical layer signaling rates and types (electrical and optical). This enables hardware to optimizes performance while minimizing package costs, to scale to any bandwidth and distance within an enclosure or data center, and to provision multiple paths to provide aggregate performance and resiliency.
- Gen-Z is processor ISA agnostic. Solutions can be flexibly composed of any mix of processor types and capability. Further, Gen-Z specifies a common atomic protocol to ensure interoperability between any processor ISA and any component type.
- Gen-Z supports traditional processor-centric and new memory-centric architectures.
Gen-Z is Enabling The Industry
Gen-Z members will have access to a FPGA-based IP development package. This package includes software and RTL source capable of exchanging read and write packets. The package includes a requester IP block, a responder IP block, a switch IP block, and drivers and management software. All software and RTL will be made available as open source, and members will be free to use it to design and implement Gen-Z products.