New Family of BlueField DPUs That Deliver Breakthrough Networking

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Secures networking platform that are integral to data centres along with improved application performances for AI and Machine Learning

NVIDIA has launched a new kind of processor known as Data Processing Units (DPUs) that are supported by DOCA, a novel data-centre-infrastructure-on-a-chip architecture that enables breakthrough networking, storage and security performance.

Optimised to offload critical networking, storage and security tasks from CPUs, BlueField-2 DPUs enables organisations to transform their IT infrastructure into state-of-the-art data centres that are accelerated, fully programmable and armed with “zero-trust” security features to prevent data breaches and cyberattacks.

About DPU

The power of CPU and GPU have been key to artificial intelligence, deep learning and big data analytics applications till now. 

However, over the past decade, computing has broken out of the confines of PC and servers with CPUs and GPUs powering new hyperscale data centres. These data centres are knit together with a powerful new category of processors. The DPU, or data processing unit, has become the third member of the data-centric accelerated computing model. 

While the CPU is for general-purpose computing, the GPU is for accelerated computing and the DPU, which moves data around the data centre, does data processing.

A DPU is a system on a chip (SOC) that combines: 

  • Industry-standard, high-performance, software programmable, multi-core CPU, typically based on the widely-used Arm architecture, tightly coupled to the other SOC components. 
  • A high-performance network interface capable of parsing, processing and efficiently transferring data at line rate, or the speed of the rest of the network, to GPUs and CPUs.
  • A rich set of flexible and programmable acceleration engines that offload and improve applications performance for AI and Machine Learning, security, telecommunications and storage, among others.

All these DPU capabilities are critical to enabling an isolated, bare-metal, cloud-native computing that will define the next generation of cloud-scale computing.

A single BlueField-2 DPU can deliver the same data centre services that could consume up to 125 CPU cores. This frees up valuable CPU cores to run a wide range of enterprise applications.

Widespread Adoption

Server manufacturers such as ASUS, Atos, Dell Technologies, Fujitsu, GIGABYTE, H3C, Inspur, Lenovo, Quanta/QCT and Supermicro plan on integrating these DPUs into their enterprise server offerings.

NVIDIA’s current DPU lineup includes two PCIe products:

  • The NVIDIA BlueField-2 DPU, which features all of the capabilities of the NVIDIA Mellanox® ConnectX®-6 Dx SmartNIC combined with powerful Arm cores. Fully programmable, it delivers data transfer rates of 200 gigabits per second and accelerates key data centre security, networking and storage tasks, including isolation, root trust, key management, RDMA/RoCE, GPUDirect, elastic block storage, data compression and more.
  • The NVIDIA BlueField-2X DPU, which includes all the key features of a BlueField-2 DPU enhanced with an NVIDIA Ampere GPU’s AI capabilities that can be applied to data centre security, networking and storage tasks. Drawing from NVIDIA’s third-generation Tensor Cores, it can use AI for real-time security analytics, including identifying abnormal traffic, which could indicate theft of confidential data, encrypted traffic analytics at line rate, host introspection to identify malicious activity and dynamic security orchestration and automated response.

Software Development Kit

The new NVIDIA DOCA SDK enables developers to build applications on DPU-accelerated data centre infrastructure services (like the NVIDIA CUDA® programming model enables developers to build GPU-accelerated applications).

DOCA provides developers with a comprehensive, open platform for building software-defined, hardware-accelerated networking, storage, security and management applications running on the BlueField family of DPUs.

DOCA is fully integrated into NVIDIA NGC, a software catalogue offering a convenient, containerised software environment for third-party application providers to leverage advanced DPU data-centre-accelerated services and to develop, certify and distribute applications to customers.

“The data centre has become the new unit of computing,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA. “DPUs are an essential element of modern and secure accelerated data centres in which CPUs, GPUs and DPUs are able to combine into a single computing unit that’s fully programmable, AI-enabled and can deliver levels of security and compute power not previously possible.”

BlueField-2 DPUs are sampling now and expected to be featured in new systems from leading server manufacturers in 2021. BlueField-2X DPUs are under development and are also expected to become available in 2021.


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