BlueField Family of Software-Defined SmartNIC By Mellanox

Designed for scale-out server and storage applications
This is a Press Release edited by on 2017.10.12

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Mellanox Technologies, Ltd. announced its BlueField family of software-defined SmartNIC adapters, designed for scale-out server and storage applications.

The BlueField adapters bring new capabilities to the company's portfolio by embedding ARM Ltd.' processor cores and accelerators in the NIC. Based on the BlueField system-on-chip processors, with up to 200Gb/s of low-latency throughput, these adapters enable a software-defined data center network.

As pressure on the data center's agility and efficiency continue to rise, intelligent networking solutions must simultaneously deliver higher data throughput, flexibility, and offload more and more of the costly host CPU cycles to the NIC. Integrating compute and accelerator resources directly into the NIC boosts the server workload capacity by two-three times, without requiring any additional rack space or adding significant power. Cloud and large data center operators need the adaptability and scalability of programmable adapters in order to roll-out new services, features and advanced protocols without opening servers for a hardware upgrade.

Features of BlueField adapters:

  • Two network ports of Ethernet or IB: 10G/25, 40, 50 or 100Gb/s options

  • RDMA support for both IB and RoCE from the leader in RDMA technology

  • Accelerators for NVMe-over-Fabrics (NVMe-oF), RAID, crypto and packet processing

  • PCIe 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

In data center server environments, the BlueField SmartNIC addresses a range of applications, including Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), security and network traffic acceleration. The programmable environment and DPDK framework support a range of standard software packages running in the BlueField ARM subsystem.

Examples include:

  • Open vSwitch (OVS)

  • Security packages such as L3/4 firewall, DDoS protection and Intrusion Prevention

  • Encryption stacks (IPsec, SSL/TLS)

  • Traffic monitoring, telemetry and packet capture

"Our BlueField adapters effectively place a Computer in Front of the Computer," said Gilad Shainer, VP, marketing, Mellanox. "They provide the flexibility needed to adapt to new and emerging network protocols, and to implement complex networking and security functions in a distributed manner, right at the boundary of the server. This brings more scalability to the data center and enhances security by creating an isolated trust zone."

"We expect the BlueField SmartNIC adapters to be a compelling offering in the software-defined networking space," said Bob Wheeler, principal analyst, The Linley Group. "Performance demands in this segment are growing rapidly and Mellanox is well positioned with the ubiquitous driver support of its broadly deployed ConnectX network controller. With the addition of the accelerators and ARM cores, BlueField will enable exciting innovations in server and storage applications."

"Mellanox BlueField intelligent adapters enable us to achieve higher performance and offload for complex networking and storage workloads," said CT Sun, chief architect, and VP, engineering, AIC, Inc. "We are pleased to embrace a new generation of Mellanox SmartNICs that enable AIC and our MAX I/O platform customers to create highly differentiated products by enabling fully software-programmable network processing."