SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

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Solarflare Introduces New Class of 10/25/50/100GbE NICs Delivering World Record Latency with SmartNIC Intelligence

Solarflare, a pioneer in the development of neural-class networks, today announced the general availability of X2, its second generation of XtremeScale™ NICs featuring a dazzling combination of performance and price.

For the vast base of Solarflare electronic trading customers, powerful X2 10, 25, 40, 50 and 100GbE NICs drive down world-record latency to less than one-half microsecond.

For modern data centers, X2 lays a new foundation for NIC-based network virtualization needed for their highly distributed applications with thousands of inter-connected cloud services, machine learning, and big data workloads. X2 is the first and only NIC platform that can establish ultra-scale connectivity to thousands of virtual networks, while at the same time providing real-time packet and flow information. The combination of ultra-high bandwidth, ultra-low latency, ultra-scale connectivity and packet telemetry allows X2 NICs to serve as the Industry’s first commercial platform for micro-segmented NIC fabric services that scale with each server, VM or container.

X2 makes data center-wide deployment of these capabilities cost-effective. Although X2 NICs provide superior performance and the SmartNIC abilities to enable network services, a 25GbE X2 NIC from Solarflare offers a cost advantage over comparably configured NICs from Broadcom, Intel, and Mellanox.

Solarflare NICs have proven themselves in servers with Intel processors, however data centers need processors with more cores and lower power. Qualcomm answers the call for more efficient data center computing with the Centriq 2400 server processor, an Arm-based processor with up to 48 cores, and the world’s first 10-nanometer server processor.

“Qualcomm Centriq 2400 processors deliver leading-edge performance and energy efficiency enabling data center operators to achieve new levels of total cost of ownership savings with their computing infrastructure,” said Ram Peddibhotla, Vice President, Product Management, Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies. “With software-defined NIC fabric technology alongside power and cost-efficient Qualcomm Centriq 2400 processors, Solarflare allows customers the flexibility to adopt best of breed solutions.”

Boston Limited has been providing cutting-edge technology since 1992 using Supermicro building blocks. Their high performance, mission-critical server and storage solutions can be tailored to each specific client, helping customers to create their ideal solution.

Jon Howard, Head of Special Operations at Boston Limited, says, “For many of our customers, ultimate throughput and protocol support are two key factors when choosing network adapters, but ultra-low latency and on-NIC processing are vital characteristics for certain verticals. In fact, within such markets, network processing is often more valuable than traditional system processing. XtremeScale NICs help Boston deliver even more focused server solutions for customers who have these requirements at the core of their business.”

Extreme-Scale: A New Class of Standard NICs

Standard server NICs share three common attributes: their speed, support for industry-standard network protocols, and their price. Customers have been looking to special-purpose network processing units (NPUs) or FPGAs for valuable packet data processing and the ability to host network services.

Industry analyst firm IT Brand Pulse uses the term “Extreme-Scale” to define a new class of standard NICs with the following capabilities needed to address the needs of massive scale-out applications with workloads distributed among dozens to thousands of cores, virtual machines, and containers:

  • Real-time packet inspection and classification in the compact size, power and cost footprint of a general-purpose NIC.
  • Ultra-scale virtual network connectivity exceeding 1,000 vNICs needed by highly distributed applications.
  • Uses real-time packet and flow data to enable micro-segmented fabric services such as acceleration, security, and telemetry.
  • Ultra-high bandwidth of at least 25Gbps and ultra-low latency of less than 1 microsecond.

According to Ahmet Houssein, Vice President of Marketing at Solarflare, “Like many other information technologies, modern data centers needed XtremeScale NICs that are engineered for scale-out environments. In the future, all general-purpose Ethernet NICs will look like this.”

X2: The Second Generation of XtremeScale NICs

Built with the all-new Solarflare X2 Ethernet controller ASIC, X2 is a family of powerful, intelligent, 10/25/40/50/100GbE NICs in PCIe and OCP form-factors that outperform more expensive specialty adapters. XtremeScale X2:

  • Is a platform for data center-wide NIC Fabrics delivering micro segmented acceleration, telemetry and security services that scale with each server, VM or container. For data center traffic engineers, the fabric services running on X2 adapters are software-defined so that network traffic can be shaped and automated using well defined APIs.
  • Provides more than 2x the throughput of previous 40G Solarflare NICs, and superior small packet performance with latency as low as 150ns—3x lower than the previous Solarflare performance leader. For acceleration, X2 NICs include ScaleOut Onload and DPDK kernel bypass fabric services. X2 also supports the precision timing protocol (PTP) fabric service for apps that require synchronized time stamping of packets down to the single-digit nanosecond.
  • Is a programmable NIC that performs packet inspection and classification. Inside the ASIC of every X2552 OCP NIC is an XtremePacket™ Engine which provides this general-purpose NIC the unique ability to perform real-time inspection. A variety of tools and services are available to shape the visibility, security and performance of the network traffic using this valuable packet data.

The X2 Family of 10/25/40/50/100GbE NICs

             

XtremeScale X2541

    XtremeScale X2552     XtremeScale X2522
100GbE     10/25GbE     10/25GbE
Single Port     Dual Port     Dual Port
Full-Length, Full-High     OCP v2     Half-High, Half-Length
PCIe 3.1 x16     PCIe 3.1 x8     PCIe 3.1 x8
QSFP28     SFP28     SFP28

Includes ScaleOut Onload and DPDK
Acceleration Fabric Services

   

Includes ScaleOut Onload and DPDK
Acceleration Fabric Services

   

Includes ScaleOut Onload and DPDK
Acceleration Fabric Services

       

XtremeScale NIC Fabric Services

Acceleration - Universal Kernel Bypass (UKB) technology uses POSIX-compliant TCP to accelerate network traffic. Proven in top exchanges around the world, UKB is an excellent solution for web hosting, CDN, container fabrics and NVMe storage fabrics which require low-latency communications without jitter.

Ultra-Scale - XtremeScale NICs are the only general-purpose NICs which are capable of establishing thousands of connections. For highly distributed database analytics and machine learning apps, XtremeScale NICs can provide connectivity to 2,048 virtual networks.

Traffic Engineering - Data from packet and flow meters allows network engineers to shape traffic to suit the specific needs of each application server.

Micro-Segmentation - All XtremeScale fabric services can scale with each physical NIC, enabling deployment of fine-grained network policies. Select services can be implemented per VM or container.

Precision Timing Protocol - For applications such as electronic trading, that require monitoring and capturing of packets precisely across the network, PTP delivers precise, synchronized time stamping of packets down to the single-digit nanosecond.

Security - Complements firewall perimeter security with packet surveillance, filtering, cloaking and firewalling for any server inside a data center with a general-purpose NIC.

Telemetry - Real-time monitoring, inspection and capture of packets needed for network performance management, security analytics, or compliance. Packet data can be forwarded to a libpcap API or saved to a file with hardware timestamps.

Storage - Lightning fast NVMe SSDs connect to a PCIe bus inside a server. NVMe over fabric support on XtremeScale™ NICs extends the PCI bus over a network with access times near internal storage performance.

About Solarflare

Solarflare is pioneering server connectivity for neural-class networks. From silicon to firmware to software, Solarflare provides a comprehensive, integrated set of technologies for distributed, ultra-scale, software-defined datacenters.

The Solarflare XtremeScale™ Architecture is a design framework which includes a comprehensive suite of features for ultra-scale environments: High-bandwidth, ultra-low-latency, ultra-scale connectivity, software defined, secure with hardware firewalls, and instrumented for line-speed telemetry.

Solarflare solutions have earned a sterling reputation in financial services and are used by virtually every major global exchange, commercial bank and hedge fund. This exacting, regulated performance uniquely qualifies our solutions for use in ultra-scale applications in IoT, big data and artificial intelligence where low latency, robust security and insightful telemetrics are critical.

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