Netronome Cards Offload Networking from x86 Servers

Mike Vizard
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Evolving Enterprise Tech: What Does 2016 Hold?

At this juncture, it’s clear that in the name of performance and agility, more networking services are going to be running on x86 servers rather than dedicated networking gear. The challenge right now is that network services tend to consume so many resources on those servers that little processing power is left over to actually run applications on those servers.

To address that issue, Netronome this week unveiled the Agilio Server Networking Platform, which is based on a custom processor Netronome developed to offload network services from an x86 server using a card that plugs into the server.

Nick Tausanovitch, vice president of data center solutions architecture for Netronome, says this approach frees up processor cores on a server to run applications, while still providing the benefits of consolidation IT infrastructure by eliminating the need for a dedicated switch. In fact, Tausanovitch says running network services directly on an x86 server today generally consumes 12 of the 16 cores on that server. Obviously, there’s a need for another approach toward consolidating server and network infrastructure, says Tausanovitch.

Agilio CX intelligent server adapters (ISAs) are based on a unique flow processing silicon (NFP-4000) and software developed by Netronome. The Agilio ISAs use onboard memory to support up to two million security policies, and deliver 28Mpps of throughput using hardware-based acceleration. Tausanovitch says this provides a five-fold increase in overall throughput and an eight-fold increase in the number of security policies that can be processed.

Agilio-Software-Architecture

The Agilio Server Networking Platform currently supports open virtual switch (OVS), Juniper Networks Contrail vRouter, and Linux firewall software. Tausanovitch says Netronome expects to increase its partner portfolio in the months ahead to include a broad range of networking software.

It’s not a foregone conclusion just yet that all network services will shift to an x86 server. But clearly enough IT organizations are interested in this approach to ensure that a significant number will. The challenge is finding a way to make the change without compromising overall application performance.




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