Netronome Network Cards Accelerate SDN and NFV Designs

Networking solutions provider Netronome has launched a new platform architecture to augment virtual switch implementations with hardware acceleration NICs in standard servers for software defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) designs. The new products include a suite of FlowNIC PCIe Gen3 cards that scale up to 200 Gbps, along with a new FlowEnvironment software package that provides standards-based APIs and configuration protocols for virtual switch offload and acceleration.

“Netronome solves the scalability problem of virtual switch implementations in the intelligent network locations where the highest throughput and I/O densities are required, while maintaining the rapid evolution of a software-based edge,” said Niel Viljoen, founder and CEO, of Netronome. “With broad applicability to any virtualized server, the new products are optimized for use in servers running network and security applications, such as SDN middleboxes, SDN gateways and NFV appliances.”

With up to 4 PCIe Gen3 x8 interfaces, the FlowNIC family packs high performance and port density into a PCIe Gen3 adapter, including 2×40, 4×40, 1×100 and 2×100 gigabit Ethernet options. The cards feature 216 programmable cores to keep pace with the rapid change in SDN protocols and standards. Additional hardware accelerators are provided for cryptography, nanosecond accuracy time-stamping, SR-IOV, VMDq, and RoCE. Massive on-chip and on-board memories deliver 24M flow table entries, and 128K wildcard rules.

“NTT Communications has been at the forefront of advancing SDN technologies with commercial use for our cloud computing, datacenter and network services for many years,” said Mr. Yukio Ito, director, member of the board, and senior vice president of service infrastructure at NTT Communications. “We’re evaluating Netronome’s solution of processors, software and NICs and expect to use them to extend our SDN offering into the Cloud-VPN Gateway with close collaboration with NTT Innovation Institute, Inc.”

Broad support for networking standards

FlowEnvironment software from Netronome features more than a 20 times  increase to virtual switching performance and significantly increases the number of virtual machine instances available per server. The FlowEnvironment includes standards-compliant support for Open vSwitch (OVS) 2.0, OpenFlow 1.4, Intel DPDK, and network virtualization protocols such as NV-GRE and VXLAN. The production-ready software provides standard APIs and is fully supported across Netronome’s FlowProcessors.

“Operational SDN and NFV environments need hardware to be effective – it’s not just about software. Netronome is innovating in the data plane by integrating key SDN, OpenFlow, and NFV functionality into the design of their new processors,” said Michael Howard, principal analyst at Infonetics Research. “Service providers will want to examine the possibilities of using equipment with this silicon for their SDN and NFV deployments.”

“Procera’s Network Application Visibility Library (NAVL) library uses sophisticated techniques to accurately identify dynamic applications and protocols,” said Shawn Sweeney, director of product management, Procera. “Maintaining a small x86 processing and memory footprint is imperative for high performance DPI applications. With the standard APIs available in Netronome’s FlowEnvironment software, the NAVL engine and Netronome’s FlowNICs work in tandem to provide unparalleled classification accuracy with high performance in standard servers.”

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About the Author

John Rath is a veteran IT professional and regular contributor at Data Center Knowledge. He has served many roles in the data center, including support, system administration, web development and facility management.

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