Smart NIC

SmartNIC – Intelligent Network Interface Card. A SmartNIC carries out network traffic data processing, unlike a standard NIC where the CPU handles much of the workload. The SmartNIC has an onboard CPU, typically an Arn processor, and carries out the low-level system network interface functions previously carried out by the host system’s CPU before sending the network traffic to a NIC or receiving traffic from it. The SmartNIC offloads the host server’s CPU, enabling it to run more application code. GPU maker NVIDIA has added storage controller functions to its BlueField-2 SmartNIC card. The BlueField card can run VMware’s vSphere hypervisor on its Arm CPU.

BlueField-2 smartNIC diagram.