SmartNICs Write for Us
SmartNICs Write for Us – A programmable accelerator called a Smart Network Interface Card (NIC) makes data center, security, and storage networking effective and versatile.
Modern distributed applications require an extended set of functions that SmartNIC offloads off server CPUs.
They have a range of connected, frequently programmable modules that give SmartNIC its intelligence. These blocks of silicon act like a panel of experts that makes decisions about how data packets should be processed and routed as they flow through the data center.
How does SmartNIC work?
Most of these blocks are highly specialized hardware components known as accelerators that perform communications tasks faster than CPUs. Some are flexible modules that users can program to accommodate their changing needs and stay up with new network protocols.
This combination of accelerators and programmable cores helps SmartNIC deliver performance and flexibility with outstanding price performance.
Several Schools of SmartNICs
The list of SmartNIC functionalities differs depending on the vendor. It could be lengthy, abbreviated, and challenging to compare.
Checking which SmartNIC has the characteristics your data center requires is a quick way to determine which one is ideal for you.
Each vendor also has ideas on how to make their SmartNICs bright.
Some use FPGAs that promise flexibility. However, FPGAs are challenging to program, expensive, and don’t perform as well as integrated accelerators.
Others use dedicated ASICs, which usually offer the best price-performance and some flexibility. Does the NVIDIA ConnectX family take the approach?
Others use system-on-a-chip designs that blend custom hardware accelerators with programmable processors. These SmartNICs have the highest performance and maximum flexibility, costing more.
We published a post on choosing the right SmartNIC for your case to assist you in navigating through the possibilities.
Put the NIC in the SmartNIC
One of the earliest technologies, NICs, which Robert Metcalfe termed Ethernet, was prototyped by him and his coworkers at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) in 1973.
Before SmartNICs, Metcalf’s first Ethernet network interface card
The name stuck. It became an industry standard in 1985 and is now synonymous with computer networking for many people.
Connecting multiple personal computers in a local area network was considered one of the most advanced technologies.
To create industrial NICs for the early personal computer industry, Metcalfe co-founded 3Com in 1979. Since then, hundreds of businesses have produced NICs in various styles, speeds, and dimensions. Today we call these foundation cards. It allows an essential network connection between two or more computers but lacks the smarts to support more than a few value-added features.
Listen to a tape of NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang interviewing Metcalfe in 2020, the year that Ethernet celebrates its 40th birthday, to get a behind-the-scenes look at the early development of NICs.
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