Do Smart Network Cards Have a Future Outside the Hyperscale Data Center?

| February 27, 2019

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When Microsoft realized that the software-defined networking it was using to give Azure customers virtual networking wouldn’t keep up when 40GB and 100GB NICs arrived, it took the same FPGAs running Bing in its data centers and turned them into smart network cards. The company had been using expensive CPUs for the SDN, which it would much rather have running cloud VMs it could charge for. Running the virtual switch on the NIC rather than the server freed up CPU cores for customer workloads and reduced network latency tenfold, according to the cloud provider. The same SmartNICs could take over tasks like cryptography operations, QoS, and RDMA storage acceleration.

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