by Adam Armstrong

Mellanox Announces BlueField Software-Defined SmartNIC Adaptors

Today Mellanox Technologies, Ltd. announced the addition of the BlueField family of software-defined SmartNIC adapters to its portfolio. Designed for scale-out server and storage applications, these new adaptors bring new capabilities with their embedded ARM processor cores and accelerators. Based off of Mellanox’s BlueField SoC, the new SmartNIC adaptors are stated to have up to 200Gb/s of low-latency throughput.

Data centers need to be more efficient and agile to deal with the ever-changing landscape and needs. Software-defined gear has taken data centers in the right direction, but this would take the bottleneck and push it toward networking. Noting this Mellanox integrated compute and accelerator resources directly into the NIC, which it claims can increase the server workload capacity as much as 3 times without taking up more Rackspace. With software-defined NICs, data centers have even more flexibility and agility for services, features, and advanced protocols without opening servers for a hardware upgrade.

Key features of the BlueField intelligent adapters:

  • 2 network ports of Ethernet or InfiniBand;10G/25G, 40G, 50G or 100Gb/s options
  • RDMA support for both InfiniBand and RoCE from the leader in RDMA technology
  • Accelerators for NVMe-over-Fabrics (NVMe-oF), RAID, crypto and packet processing
  • PCI Express Gen3 and Gen4, with either x8 or x16-lane configurations
  • Integrated low-latency PCIe switch with up to 8 external ports for flexible topologies
  • Up to 16 ARMv8 Cortex A72 processors with 20MB of coherent cache
  • 8–32GB of on-board DDR4 DRAM
  • Comprehensive virtualization support with SR-IOV
  • Accelerated Switching and Packet Processing (ASAP2) OVS offloads
  • Multi-host and SocketDirect enabling a single adapter to support up to four CPU hosts
  • Multiple server form-factor options including half-height, half-length PCIe and other configurations

Mellanox states that its new BlueField SmartNIC addresses a wide range of applications, including Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), security and network traffic acceleration. And the fully programmable environment and DPDK framework support a wide range of standard software packages running in the BlueField ARM subsystem.

Mellanox will be showcasing BlueField adapters at the Linley Processor Conference 2017, Oct. 4-5, at the Hyatt Regency, Santa Clara, CA.

Mellanox BlueField SmartNIC

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