Xilinx makes smarter, faster SmartNIC

Xilinx has announced a smarter and faster SN1000 SmartNIC that offloads more work from a host server CPU and can be programmed for specific functions.

A SmartNIC is a network interface card that offloads network and storage processing from the host server CPU, thus enabling more application work such as running more virtual machines or containers.

Salil Raje, Xilinx EVP and Data Centre Group GM,msupplied a statement: “Data centres are transforming to increase networking bandwidth and optimize for workloads like artificial intelligence and real time analytics. These complex, compute-intensive and constantly-evolving workloads are… driving the need for fully composable, software-defined hardware accelerators that provide the adaptability to optimise today’s most demanding applications.”

In March 2020 Xilinx announced the Alveo U25 SmartNIC, featuring dual PCIe gen 3 interfaces and twin 25Gbit/s Ethernet ports plus separate data and control planes. This is based on Zynq FPGA SoC technology, assisted by a Solarflare ASIC, and provides network, storage and compute acceleration functions for cloud service providers, telcos, and private cloud data centre operators.

Supported workloads include SDN, virtual switching, NFV, NVMe-oF, electronic trading, AI inference, video transcoding, and data analytics.

Xilinx Alveo SN1000

The newer SN1000 supports PCIe Gen 4, and 10- 25- and 100GbitE. The SN1000 has 100 million packets per second (pps) rate, compared to the U25’s maximum of 32 million pps. There is an XCU26 FPGA, an ASIC plus and 16-core Arm CPU. All the programmable logic is in the FPGA.

Although the U25 has separate control and data planes, the control plane is processed by the host CPU. In the SN1000 the Arm CPU on the SmartNIC adapter carries out this work itself, fully freeing the host CPU from NIC control plane duties.

The SN1000 provides acceleration for Open Virtual Switch (OVS), Virtio.net, Virtio.blk, vDPA, IPsec, kTLS and CEPH. There is a composable data path for custom programmability and and Vitis development library support for P4 programming. (P4 is an open source coding language used to control packet forwarding in routers and switches and other networking devices.)

The Alveo SN1000 SmartNIC is currently sampling with early access customers. General availability is expected by March 31, 2021. 

Smart World analytics

Xilinx today also launched Smart World, an AI video analytics platform that pairs Alveo SmartNICs with applications inside Xilinx’s Video Machine-learning Streaming Server (VMSS) framework. VMSS targets facial recognition, virtual fencing, crowd statistics, traffic monitoring, and object detection workloads.mXilinx partners include:

  • Aupera with a turnkey Smart Cities appliance that combines its intelligent, cloud-based video processing with Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ FPGA multi-processor system in a chip (MPSOC) and Alveo accelerators. 
  • Mipsology with a migration toolset to move existing AI applications from GPU-based architectures to the Alveo platform, and AI inference acceleration. 
  • DeepAI is delivering AI training at the edge on Alveo accelerators.

Xilinx is introducing an Accelerated Algorithmic Trading (ATT) system based on its FPGAs, that will enable traders to be competitive in high-frequency trading. It has also launched the industry’s first FPGA App Store with ready-to-go applications such as Smart World AI video analytics, anti-money laundering and live video transcoding.

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