Where I’ll be at OCP Global Summit

Every year I try to do a write up on the content I’m most excited about for OCP’s Global Summit. Full disclosure: I’m a former Board Member and Chairperson, still involved in the Future Technologies Initiative/Symposium, and I was one of the content advisors on the Artificial Intelligence track this year, so I definitely am biased.

The full schedule for OCP Global Summit is jam packed with sessions covering Security, Reliability, Artificial Intelligence, Open Networking, Sustainability, Composable Memory, Chiplets, Optics, Coherent Interconnects, Automation, Facilities Innovation, Cooling, and a lot more. This three day industry event literally brings thousands of people, and hundreds of companies together to discuss the future of our industry, and how we need to collaborate to drive the changes that any one company alone cannot facilitate.

So first thing on Tuesday, we have Keynotes. There is an overwhelming theme across the keynotes: how Artificial Intelligence is changing the computing landscape exacerbating challenges with power, cooling, and networking, and creating new threats for security. If you want to hear from a broad range of hyperscalers and leading semiconductor companies on how they are preparing for this explosion of generative AI, you should not miss it.

Unlike many other conferences, the Keynotes are not the sole reason to attend. This conference is full of breakout sessions led by the engineers who are actually building systems, solutions, silicon, and software to solve novel challenges. On Tuesday afternoon I will be torn between the AI track and the SONiC track, but since I was on the content advisory committee for the AI track, I will definitely be there to see it live. There is everything from processor-in-memory inferencing solutions to open source efforts to align upon a hardware abstraction layer in order to unlock AI accelerator innovation while continuing to enable model development rapidly and consistently. Google, nVidia, Meta, Microsoft, and many more will be presenting on use cases, challenges, and opportunities across the Data Center from silicon to software, and facilities to network observability.

On Wednesday, Andy Bechtolsheim is kicking it off with network architecture and optics for large scale AI clusters. Then we will transition to the Future Technologies Symposium, which is one of my favorite sections of the conference because it isn’t just about the challenges of today, it is about the challenges facing us as an industry from researchers to start ups and well-established companies. Several critical projects for storage disaggregation, the evolution of the Network Operating System, from the Linux Foundation, the journey to composable memory, how we have to continue to evolve hardware management solutions in an increasingly complex system, and much more. DENT will have its first sessions at OCP this year along with SONiC, highlighting the breadth and depth of open source NOS solutions available, and how we will continue to evolve to optimize for usability. Optics, open edge servers, efforts on a RAS (reliability, availability, and serviceability) standard API, RAS to contain the impact of PCIe uncorrected errors, RAS and enhancements in MCTP, SPDM, PLDM, OpenBMC, and Redfish support for GPUs and accelerators (a critical workstream we need significant standardization upon), and memory fault management also will be providing updates on Wednesday. Last but in no way least, we will hear a lot about improvements in the sustainability and usability of immersive solutions, and circularity initiatives from Open System Firmware to eWaste reclamation improvements.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will go even further down the future-looking data center “rabbit hole”, discussing Quantum Computing, advancements in composable memory including much needed real-time telemetry, Silent Data Corruption research progress, automation and robotics in the data center, and hacking away at AI opportunities (predictive analytics, resource optimization using AI for sustainable operations, and localization) within the data center domain. My team will also be presenting our DC-SCM 2.0 compliant solution for hardware management designed in conjunction with Lenovo, and I definitely won’t miss that!

Thursday ushers in security, chiplets, time synchronization, more on modularity, and networking (beyond Optics and Open Networking well covered in the first two days). Updates on Caliptra, DC-MHS progress, SONiC, QUIC offload on the Linux kernel, and significantly more user updates in the domains of sustainability, storage, and facilities enhancements.

OCP Global Summit is designed for teams, where each can divide and conquer to expand insight across security, manageability, reliability, modularity, networking, thermal/mechanical design, and future-looking initiatives such as chiplets and composable memory. The opportunity to learn, connect, and share is how OCP continues to empower open communities, and I look forward to seeing you there!

Book Club

Book Club: Quiet

For book club in September we read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I found that I got a lot out of this book. I self-identify as “extroverted for a purpose”: being around people doesn’t exhaust me, except if I’m around people without purpose or authenticity; when I have to assume a role rather than be myself, I find that exhausting. I also absolutely recharge through running, reading a book, and quality time with one person or small familiar groups (which is more synonymous with introversion according to Cain’s definition). I enjoy people, and I can be energized by being around them with the right motivation and purpose (a work event with meaningful connection time, working through major challenges in a group, discussing a book with others to see multiple perspectives, etc.), but walking into a party without a purpose (just a casual thing or networking event just to “meet people”) feels…awkward to me.

The book talks about many aspects of introversion and extroversion. The key domains the books delves into are: how introverts and extroverts tend to differ around motivation and sensitivity, the impact of nature vs. nurture with respect to introversion and extroversion, Western vs. Eastern cultural norms on extroversion and introversion, the history of extroversion, how introverts may enact purposeful behavior changes to simulate extroversion, advice for corporations on how to grow and nurture introverts as well as extroverts, how leaders can embrace the diverse perspectives that groups with introverts and extroverts provide, and that introverts and extroverts benefit most when they cooperate. Fundamentally the book encourages understanding differences of human reactions to particular stimulus, and encourages empathy for those which may not reflect your cultural norm, but are still quite normal.

In terms of feedback, most of the book club enjoyed this book. We self-identified as half introverts and half extroverts in the group. Unilaterally the extroverts said they felt that their empathy and understanding for introverts expanded through the book. There was feedback on whether the inverse was true given the pathologically extroverted examples that were referenced in the book (e.g. Tony Robbins, Winston Churchill, etc.). The feeling was that the intention was to shun extroverts into “checking themselves” vs. helping people gain a better understanding of alternate mental states.

Ultimately I would have loved to see the conclusion own the oversimplification in the title and reiterate the nuance in the research cited throughout the book. There is a spectrum between introversion, ambiversion, and extroversion; stimulus, purpose, and environment alter how people manifest, and your upbringing and culture have a significant implication to how you will represent yourself. We are individuals, and we get to choose how we show up. I really enjoyed the messages around empathy and inclusion in this book, and wished there had been more moderate examples of extroverts to highlight that not all the good ones are introverts masquerading as extroverts because of Western society’s expectations and cultural norms, but even with that caveat I really did appreciate the book.

Book Club

Book Club: Technopoly

For book club this month we read Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, which I have to admit was hard at times to read as a technophile. Still, sometimes the best books are the ones that force you to question your assumptions (and our book club selects books by popular vote), so I dug in.

First off I will say most of the folks in our club did not like the book: struggled with determining what the thesis was, and even if they resonated with a point here or there, it didn’t feel actionable. I will attempt to summarize the thesis I took away: part of what makes us human is lost as we become a more processed, controlled, technology-driven culture. The tradeoff is real, and he illustrates many things that change with new technology (religion, family, culture, politics, medicine, etc.) but he juxtaposes this as always negative, rather than just different, and that is where most of us, as a book club full of technologists, struggled. Just because new technology is invented doesn’t necessarily imply that society is net better or worse. Yes, it changes how society approaches something: if you always had to visit your family to connect with them and now you can do it on the phone or via text, is that really worse? Yes, the quality of the connection may not be as strong, but the frequency even as people have had to move farther from one another feels like a reasonable tradeoff to stay connected than just growing apart. Infant mortality being reduced through vaccination…these are just a few examples where it is clear that technology is net beneficial. Fundamentally change shouldn’t be seen as a zero sum game.

Still, I actually really enjoyed the book, not for the anti-technology bent, but because I resonated with one key premise: bias towards belief without knowledge and context leads to chaos, and we have to build educational systems, and norms that ensure we don’t fall into that trap. This line of thought is prescient in my mind given what we are seeing with ChatGPT and LLMs. Fundamentally these tools give definitive, and sometimes very wrong answers, and people believe them because of the form they take. In the book Postman talks about Eliza, an AI project that responded in the forms humans expected (as a teacher, therapist, etc.) and how in a study the humans reacted as if Eliza were in fact a real person when in reality it was just AI. This was done as an experiment, but fundamentally we are living this daily with our LLMs. If we don’t teach the humans interpreting the output a framework for critical thinking, then we will double down on the kind of bias/echo chamber that social media helped sew.