Mellanox Introduces BlueField SoC Programmable Processors

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bluefieldToday Mellanox announced the BlueField family of programmable processors for networking and storage applications. The BlueField family of devices addresses an increasing need in the industry for higher levels of SoC (System-on-Chip) integration to simplify system design, lower total power, and reduce overall system cost. BlueField incorporates Mellanox ConnectX network acceleration offload technology together with an array of high-performance 64-bit ARMv8 CPU cores that leverages the Tilera coherent mesh interconnect technology from the recent acquisition of EZchip. The result is a device that delivers unmatched levels of integration for multiple applications, including dataplane offload for Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), advanced networking and security, and serving as the embedded storage controller of an array of solid state Flash drives.

We have leveraged our industry-leading ConnectX technology in the BlueField SOCs to achieve unmatched networking throughput and low-latencies,” said Kevin Deierling, vice president of marketing, Mellanox. “Our ConnectX adapter technology is the industry standard for connectivity and has become pervasive throughout the industry. Now, when combined with the multicore technology from EZchip, the vision of a Software-Defined dataplane accelerator can be realized.”

The BlueField family features Mellanox’s latest generation ConnectX network acceleration technology integrated with an array of high-performance 64-bit ARMv.8 processor cores and multiple Virtual Protocol Interconnect (VPI) 100Gb/s networking ports supporting InfiniBand and Ethernet. The advanced SkyMesh™ coherent on-chip interconnect – proven in multiple generations of Tilera processors – enables scalable performance and leading power efficiency.

As a networking offload co-processor, BlueField will complement the host processor by performing wire-speed packet processing in-line with the network I/O, freeing the host processor to deliver more virtual networking functions (VNFs),” said Linley Gwennap, principal analyst at the Linley Group. “Network offload results in better rack density, lower overall power consumption, and deterministic networking performance. Furthermore, programmable network adapter cards can be updated to new and emerging networking protocols as well as implementing VNFs directly on the card.”

bluefieldarchitectureKey Technical Features

  • Industry-leading network I/O, with both Ethernet and InfiniBand support
  • Multi-rate ports supporting 10, 25, 40, 50, 56 and 100 Gb/s
  • Comprehensive networking offloads including VXLAN, NVGRE, GENEVE overlay networks, RSS, TSS, HDS, LRO, LSOv2, RDMA, and RoCE
  • Low latency NVMe over Fabrics translation between PCIe and Ethernet/InfiniBand
  • High-bandwidth PCIe controllers with Gen3 and Gen4 support as well as SRIOV
  • Tiled array of ARMv8 processor cores with unified virtual memory system
  • Three-level cache hierarchy with scalable distributed hardware coherency
  • Multi-DDR4 memory controllers with ECC, supporting up to 2667MT/s
  • Integrated security acceleration for protocols including IPsec, SSL/TLS, DTLS and data-at-rest applications
  • High-performance crypto acceleration for AES, SHA, RSA, DSA, Elliptic Curve and Diffie-Hellman
  • Integrated cores leverage the vast ARM software ecosystem for development tools and pre-ported applications
  • Typical runtime environment is based on KVM/Linux and standard frameworks and applications such as DPDK, OVS, Ceph, etc.
  • Accelerated Network Functions Virtualization and Open Virtual Switch offload support

The BlueField family of devices is ideal for intelligent PCIe programmable adapters for advanced server offload for cloud, Web 2.0, Big Data, storage, enterprise, HPC, and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) applications. In addition, a new generation of scalable solid-state storage appliances can incorporate BlueField as a highly integrated storage controller SoC, with optimized I/O features together with the throughput and low-latency needed to keep up with the latest Flash-based drives.

Flash is causing wholesale changes in storage architectures. In order to match the networking bandwidth to new storage requirements, storage system vendors will soon start to roll-out new high-performance line of NVMe-based systems,” said Stu Miniman, senior analyst, Wikibon. “Mellanox has a proven history of low-latency and high performance, which is furthered with BlueField, a storage controller with RDMA and NVMe over Fabrics fast path implementation, plus a programmable array of ARM cores that gives OEMs the flexibility to differentiate their products.”

The first BlueField SoC devices are planned for sampling in Q1 of 2017, with additional family members in the 2nd half of 2017.

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