There has been a lot of talk in the industry in last couple of years around SMART-NICs. In this blog, we share our perspective on this new class of network accelerators and the role they play in the future of compute platforms. SMART-NICs are expected to play a key role in compute platforms for large Data Centers, Edge and Telco 5G environments.There is a general trend in the industry around building compute platforms that consist of general purpose CPUs coupled with dedicated accelerators (SOCs and ASICs). The industry also refers to these as Domain Specific Architectures, where a host processor is used to set things up and accelerators do the compute processing for the specific problem domain. A number of factors are driving the adoption of this hybrid computing architecture:The increasing number of cores in the CPUs have improved the CPU performance, but memory and I/O bandwidth improvements haven’t kept up with it. Combining CPUs with accelerators moves some of the processing to accelerator cards without transferring the data back and forth between memory, IO and CPU.As network speeds and disk performance are increasing, some of the associated processing (network services and data processing / analytics) is moving closer to network in the form of FPGAs to avoid sending un-necessary data to host memory.Telcos are moving towards virtualizing the network edge with evolution to 5G. Hardware acceleration will play a key role in the 5G architecture for network services offload, 5G network slicing and real time data processing.SMART-NICs are a class of accelerators which consist of a standard NIC (Network Interface Controller) combined with FPGA and CPU cores (ARM or x86 cores), as shown in Fig 1. These are expected to play a key role in future system architecture because most of the infrastructure services and applications are or will be network connected. Some examples of infrastructure services are network services (virtual switches, firewalls, load balancers, Telco virtual network functions, SD-WAN), storage services (SDS software for block, file, object storage), analytics, and machine learning. These infrastructure services moved to software defined architectures with SDN (Software Defined Networking), SDS (Software Defined Storage) and distributed data analytics (Hadoop, Spark).As network speeds are increasing, there is a need to move the associated network processing from host CPU to network adapters in order to keep up with data rates and reduce the amount of data sent to IO bus and host memory for processing. Hypervisor resident virtual switches provide a number of functions including data movement, virtual switching overlay, encryption, deep packet inspection, load balancing and firewall. It is hard to scale these features to future network speeds of 50/100/200G. FPGA and NIC on the SMART-NIC (Fig 1) enable this data plane offload to scale to higher throughput, lower latency and higher packets per second (pps) performance. Other higher level network services and Telco virtual network functions (VNFs) are also starting to leverage the FPGA and NIC ASIC to offload data plane processing and new features like network slicing for 5G.Some of the data plane functions also benefit from moving associated control plane closer to the data plane, leading to embedded CPU cores on SMART-NICs. What are the benefits of doing this?Support of any OS running on the host CPU and enablement of bare-metal containers.Stronger security – embedded signed images can be delivered for software on SMART-NIC and it is independent of any security attack on the OS or applications running on host CPU.Software running on the SMART-NIC can isolate a server from rest of the network if a security threat is detected.The offload of network functions via SMART-NIC enables opportunity to further optimize the data-flows in overall compute system as shown in Fig 2. Software running on SMART-NIC can enable direct data transfers to server storage and GPUs without using host memory as a staging area for data transfer, thus improving performance, reducing latency and freeing up host CPU cycles.A number of industry level standardization efforts are needed to develop open APIs so that a SMART-NIC from any vendor can be used to accelerate any workload such as:Standardization of data plane interface for applications to offload data plane processing.Standardization of interfaces for software life cycle management of SMART-NICs.Standardization of hardware management and monitoring of SMART-NICs via DMTF Redfish interfaces.These SMART-NICs will play a key role in compute platforms for both Data Center and Edge. In data centers, SMART-NICs enable workloads to scale to higher network speeds. They also free up the host CPU cores and reduce memory consumption and IO bus utilization by moving CPU and data intensive computing to hardware. In Edge deployments, SMART-NICs enable movement towards single socket servers instead of current dual socket platforms, and new features like network slicing for 5G, Telco VNF Acceleration, content distribution, image processing and Machine Learning Inferencing.Due to importance of this hybrid architecture for next generation workloads, CPU vendors, namely Intel, has also evolved from processor point of view to a system point of view with investments in FPGAs, SMART-NICs, GPUs and Co-processors. This change will enable next generation of highly optimized Edge and 5G deployments to be based on x86 compute platforms and SMART-NICs coupled with high speed persistent memory and storage.Dell Technologies is leading the innovation in future hybrid system architectures with FPGAs, SMART-NICs, GPUs and other SoC based multi-core accelerators while working on standardization of APIs and frameworks. Dell Technologies is partnering with Telecommunication Service Providers bringing leading technology on our journey to 5G.
JAKE NAUGHTON/Herald photoTwo national championships, 133 career points, 2007 Frozen Four All-Tournament Team, 2008 team captain. What? do all of these accomplishments have in common? For one, they rank at the very top of the many accolades senior forward Jinelle Zaugg has racked up in her time as a member of the UW women?s hockey team. But they can all also trace their roots back to one day when a young Zaugg got her start in the sport that has now become a large part of her life.?When I was eight, my brother?s team needed an extra player, so I jumped in and played with the boys for a year and ended up winning state, which was really cool,? Zaugg recalled. ?After that, my dad started a girl?s club team that I was able to play on until I was in high school.?While in high school, Zaugg once again played with the boys, where she went on to receive the Most Improved Player award her freshman and junior seasons.In her junior and senior years, she participated in the Junior Olympic Camp and started to develop a reputation as a powerful player with an extremely strong shot, a characteristic she still calls her greatest strength as a player.?Lots of goalies have a hard time reading my shot because I have such a long reach,? Zaugg said.Zaugg?s numbers at UW lend credence to that claim. In her first year in Madison, Zaugg managed to score 12 goals on 15 percent shooting, but as she grew into coach Mark Johnson?s system, her percentage has increased each of the last two years. With her 24 goals in 2005, she established herself as a major threat on a championship-bound Badgers team. But it wasn?t until her junior year that she had everyone in the WCHA buzzing with a 29-goal season ? 20 of which came in conference play ? an amazing accomplishment that nearly doubled her conference scoring output from a year before (12 goals).Even more astounding was that eight of Zaugg?s team-leading 29 goals were game-winners, cementing her reputation as a clutch player.With the closing force of Zaugg and the nation?s best player in Sara Bauer, UW cruised to its second national championship in 2006, with the junior forward leading the way in the championship game against UMD. Zaugg notched two of the three goals in the game and garnered All-Tournament honors.With all that she and her teammates have accomplished while at UW, it’s understandable that Zaugg had a lot of trouble trying to pick out her most cherished memory as a Badger.?My most memorable moment would probably have to be the first national championship,? Zaugg said. ?It?s so hard to pass up something like that, especially beating a rival like Minnesota right in their own backyard with my whole family there to watch me.?However, not soon after she had determined that, more games came to mind for the senior, highlighted by a four-overtime contest?with Harvard last year that finally ended with her goal.?That Harvard game is so hard to pass up, though,? Zaugg said. ?Between the fans and the length of the game, playing in that atmosphere was just amazing.?Coming into the 2007-08 season, Zaugg and her teammates have had to deal with lofty expectations, standard fare for a group coming off back-to-back championships.Of course, Zaugg?s experience could not go overlooked, as she was named a captain for the three-peat campaign, something she tries to downplay.?I just try and be the same person I have always been,? Zaugg said. ?My role hasn?t really changed. I still try and be someone who freshmen can count on to be there to help them out. That role is just as important to me as what I do as a leader on the ice.?Zaugg?s leadership certainly showed its full colors over winter break in Wisconsin’s series with conference rival Ohio State, where she scored two goals on nine shots and helped lead the team to a much-needed sweep heading into Friday?s contest with St. Cloud State, a team that stole a win from Wisconsin earlier on in the year.With the 2008 Frozen Four less than two months away, Zaugg still has time to add a few more achievements to her list.
Fresh from its impressive 3-1 win over Akwa United on Sunday, head coach of Enyimba, Usman Abd’Allah has suggested that the team can still do better than has been seen after three matches in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).Abd’Allah expressed satisfaction with the team’s progress so far while hoping the team will get better.‘I am very happy with the way the team has performed right now. We seem to be getting better because we are playing more matches now and it’s helping us to get better. ‘At the start of the season, it was a little difficult for us because we had few matches and this cost us our place in the champions league. Now with the NPFL back we are beginning to create the right balance in the squad. I am happy with our recent performances but we will continue to improve until we get what we want’ Abd’Allah remarked.The NPFL defending champions are currently unbeaten in its opening three matches of the new season and are unbeaten in its last five matches in all competitions.Traditionally, the People’s Elephant are known to hit top gear around mid season in contrast to the current scenario where they are seated 2nd on the log but coach Abd’Allah revealed that he prefers to get the points early and insists his side has what it takes to maintain the early momentum till the end.“As you can see, there is a lot of confidence in the team and the boys are responding very well. The important thing is that we are taking it match after match and getting the points now.”It’s better we grab the points early than to play catch-up while hoping for other teams to drop points. It’s also a message [the coaching staff] have passed along to the squad and I am happy they have responded well.”, he explained.Enyimba will be hoping to maintain the positive start to the season when they visit Sunshine Stars on Wednesday on the Matchday 4.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram