The new BlueField SmartNIC (network interface card) adapters are based on Mellanox’s BlueField system-on-chip (SoC) processors and designed for scale-out server and storage applications. ARM processor cores and accelerators embedded on the NIC boost the server workload capacity by two to three times without requiring more rack space, the company claims.
This processing power, combined with network offloads, make the new network adapter card ideal for sophisticated security, networking, and storage applications such as all-flash arrays and NVMe over fabrics, said Bob Doud, senior director of marketing at Mellanox.
“We can run Open vSwitch totally natively on our card,” he said, referring to the open source virtual switch software. “And in the telco space, or other people deploying NFV, the networking virtual functions can run on the ARM cores, embedded at the network layer.”
The adapter cards also include built-in security features such as stateful level 4-based firewalls and encryption of data in motion.
“The natural place to enforce security is on the server,” Doud said. “We inspect all traffic coming into the server, and we can inspect all traffic leaving the server. Essentially it is a guard post.”
The Linux software stack comes standard embedded on the cards. “Our customers, if they are an OEM or a hyperscale data center, they can bring their own applications to run on those ARM cores,” Doud said. “We can run open source packages very readily.”
Looking ahead, Mellanox also plans to offer bundled hardware and software products, he added. “We’ll be working with partners for customers who want more of a plug-and-play solution.”