Impel Cable Assemblies and Open19: Supporting the New Generation of Edge Computing

Our data-driven times were developed on the foundation of large, centralized data centers. But the new generation of applications — such as self-driving cars, virtual reality, video streaming and smart cities — will need to ingest and crunch unprecedented amounts of data on the spot, while also requiring minimum latencies. This has driven computing to the edge — in proximity to applications.

Whether located at the base of cell towers, in factories and retail stores, or at entertainment venues and sporting events, edge computing servers will be everywhere. This, however, comes with its own challenges, maintenance in particular. Instead of 30 or 40 large data centers, imagine 100,000 edge computing sites across the US. It would take an army of service personnel prowling the country in trucks to take care of all the maintenance. And if a server located in a remote place went down, how long would it take a technician to get to, say, the middle of the desert to assess the problem? And then how much longer until the replacement server arrives and is installed?

Making “Touch-Free” Data Centers a Reality

To make the proliferation of edge computing feasible and mitigate some of its inherent challenges, the Open19 Foundation was formed to create a flexible and economic solution by defining a common cross-industry server form factor.

One of the ultimate goals of Open19 is to make edge computing data centers fully automated or “lights out”. In view of the expected number of edge computing sites, it’s easy to understand the need. Open19 plans on meeting its goals via two strategies:

  1. Hardware isolation inside the rack
  2. Self-monitoring and self-healing provisioning systems

Imagine thousands of edge computing sites providing us all with the data we need for our smart cities, our business analytics and our self-driving cars, with downtime being virtually nonexistent due to predictive maintenance. Now, imagine that the delivery man who brings the new server can also pop it into the rack within seconds and software automatically boots up that server. Or even more conveniently, a robotic arm retrieves the server from storage and slides it into the rack. All done efficiently, economically and without a hiccup in data service.

This futuristic scenario relies on the common form factors and standards developed by the Open19 Foundation.

Plug-and-Play Servers with Impel Cable Assemblies

Impel-to-zQSFP+ Open19 Cable Assembly. (Image source: Molex)

Molex, an Open19 Foundation partner, offers through Digi-Key the Impel Cable Assembly, a plug-and-play solution that allows customers to connect 48 servers to one Open19 switch.

In order to facilitate easy and even automated implementation, Open19 has moved all cabling to the back of the rack. And Impel connectors and cable assemblies are designed with blind-mate features, enabling servers to easily slide into place.

Additionally, Impel cable solutions improve electrical performance compared to other methods. Delivering 56 Gbps per lane with headroom up to 200G per server, Impel Cable Assemblies provide cost-effective futureproof connectivity. With broad-edge, coupled signal pairs in lead frames and fully shielded columns, Impel Backplane Connectors also deliver robustness and optimized signal integrity performance.

Impel Cable Assemblies’ Open19 standard portfolio available via Digi-Key includes:

  • Branch Cables
  • Hybrid Branch Cables
  • Server and Switch Aggregator Connectors

Impel Cable Assemblies in an Open19 Server Application. (Image source: Molex)

And the Impel Open19 Test Cable offering through Digi-Key includes:

  • Loopback
  • Straight Cable
  • Hybrid zQSFP+ to Impel 4X2

If you’re looking for a cable assembly with an Open19 form factor or connectivity that can provide next-generation data rates with industry-leading signal integrity, Impel Backplane Cable Assemblies, available through Digi-Key, deliver on all fronts.

About this author

Image of Liz Hardin

Liz Hardin, Group Product Manager at Molex, LLC, works with a broad range of customers to help creatively solve connection challenges. With the understanding that ever-increasing signaling speeds and costs to deploy new systems are continually increasing trials, Liz believes that dense copper cable solutions provide a compelling possibility for resolution. A 15-year veteran of the interconnect industry, Liz has a strong customer focus and is excited to work to bridge the gap between the system needs of today and the opportunities next-generation requirements hope to offer.

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