As the cloud continues to empower local data centers, it is becoming increasingly important to provide high-quality, affordable services in the highly competitive cloud service provider industry. To consistently keep customers happy, cloud service providers must be able to offer low-cost, high-performance cloud services that often require infrastructure with high-speed processors, storage, and networking components.

A cloud service provider’s profit depends on what a single CPU can achieve. This is achieved either through direct monetization of cloud computing services, or through cloud-native applications delivered as a service. Increasing network speeds complicate this situation because traditional data center architectures require the use of valuable server CPU cores for network overhead tasks. While some underlying network interface controllers (NICs) can offload a certain amount of packet processing from the server CPU, as network speeds continue to climb, local and discrete storage requirements continue to increase, and new security and management layers emerge , it is imperative to improve the unloading ability. In addition to this, when network speeds increase to 100 Gbps, the overall performance of the data center is likely to suffer as it relies entirely on CPU cores to perform increasingly complex network functions.

FPGAs are a core component of multiple generations of Microsoft’s Azure SmartNIC infrastructure, providing us with flexible and differentiated high-performance solutions. It’s great to see Intel go a step further and launch the Intel FPGA Smart NIC C5000X platform to continue to lead the industry with breakthrough innovation. The new platform will allow cloud service providers to increase efficiency by integrating FPGA technology in the data center and meet their own needs in a more flexible manner.

– Derek Chiou, Microsoft Partner Architect

The IPU based on the Intel FPGA IPU C5000X platform can help data centers improve performance by offloading some network functions from the server CPU, thereby increasing network throughput and reducing latency. In addition, this IPU can be customized to help improve data center automation and security by offloading network management and security functions from server CPUs. By deploying IPUs based on the Intel FPGA IPU C5000X platform in the data center, cloud service providers can realize tangible performance gains while increasing profit per CPU.

Improve server CPU utilization and performance with IPUs based on the Intel FPGA IPU C5000X platform

Base NICs, like NICs commonly found in current data center architectures, are application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC)-based networking devices. Although these NICs have been used successfully for decades, their functions are relatively fixed and dedicated to traditional packet processing. This places most of the burden of networking and storage overhead in modern high-speed cloud data centers on the server CPU. The CPU cycles available to perform revenue-generating tasks have to be allocated to handle basic network and storage infrastructure overhead. With the increase of the network speed, it is necessary to increase the CPU to deal with this situation in time.

IPUs based on the Intel FPGA IPU C5000X platform provide higher programmability and increased speed by offloading network overhead processing, security functions such as storage, encryption, and network management functions to dedicated FPGAs and Intel Xeon D processors with increased speed. flexibility.

By offloading these functions from the server CPU cores, IPUs based on the Intel FPGA IPUC5000X platform can not only provide more infrastructure processing capabilities, support higher network speeds, but also free the CPU cores for revenue-generating applications. Freeing up high-performance CPU cores also means cloud service providers can manage resources more efficiently and offer customers more competitive service-level agreements (SLAs).

Figure 1. IPUs based on the Intel FPGA IPU C5000X platform can help improve data center performance by increasing network throughput, reducing latency, and increasing server CPU utilization.

Extend IPU functionality with custom software solutions

An IPU based on the Intel FPGA IPU C5000X platform is more flexible in part because it is very much like a base NIC and can be deployed in an out-of-the-box configuration. With the continuous evolution of cloud data center functional requirements and standards, IPUs based on the Intel FPGA IPU C5000X platform can be reprogrammed to further customize functions such as packet processing, storage, security, and network management. This is programmable hardware with the speed of software.

Network functions typically handled by server CPUs can be easily ported to FPGAs and Intel Xeon D processing with Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) drivers and Storage Performance Development Kit (SPDK) drivers optimized for x86 architecture CPUs on the device. These development kits contain software libraries and drivers that help software developers customize and offload packet processing functions to IPUs based on the Intel FPGA IPU C5000X platform. DPDK, designed to accelerate network packet processing capabilities, was originally created by Intel and is now an open source project hosted by the Linux Foundation; SPDK is a freely available Intel project designed to optimize storage traffic capabilities.

Inventec is proud to have entered into a partnership with Intel to jointly create a unique SmartNIC based on the Intel FPGA SmartNIC C5000X platform architecture. We recognized right away that this platform would stand out as the SmartNIC of the future, offering customers the ability to customize, while offering outstanding performance, programming capabilities and a combination of Intel-exclusive technologies.

The programmability of the IPU enables cloud service providers to create, modify or update rules and protocols for network processing, storage, security and management in changing business environments. For example, if a cloud service provider expands to include faster networks and more options for network security, it is likely that additional servers will be required to handle the increased application throughput. With IPUs based on the Intel FPGA IPU C5000X platform, increased infrastructure processing demands can be met by IPUs deployed into existing server environments. Such IPUs can remove new bottlenecks that would otherwise be created, while unlocking multiple application performance gains. By reducing or eliminating infrastructure processing bottlenecks, IPUs based on the Intel FPGA IPU C5000X platform can help businesses reduce total cost of ownership (TCO), extend the life cycle of infrastructure investments as business requirements change, and improve overall revenue generation server utilization.

IPUs based on the Intel FPGA IPU C5000X platform can be paired with platforms that are common in today’s cloud service provider data centers and are also based on the ubiquitous x86 architecture. Since the IPU based on the Intel FPGA IPU C5000X platform uses the Intel Xeon D processor based on the x86 architecture, software developers can develop on a CPU that they are already familiar with and are also based on the x86 architecture, thus greatly reducing the workload of software porting . This familiarity also helps developers reduce startup time and development costs.

Boost Data Center Revenue and Performance with IPUs Based on the Intel FPGA IPU C5000X Platform

With the increase of network speed and the deepening of the complexity of processing tasks, the IPU based on the Intel FPGA IPU C5000X platform can improve the overall performance and revenue of the data center, while helping the realization of high-performance network functions. As a flexible and scalable networking solution, this type of IPU empowers cloud service providers with the capabilities needed to enhance their competitiveness and provides developers with a familiar development environment based on x86 architecture platforms.

Reviewing Editor: Peng Jing

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