Virtualization Solutions

Smarter Data Delivery in Virtual Environments
As companies migrate to the cloud, operators of data centers and connectivity networks need to continuously increase capacity and performance in a cost-effective manner. Virtualization has already enabled enterprise applications and services to migrate; the next challenge is migrating networking and storage functions. An example is the Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) initiative in the Telecom Services market.

The key challenge for appliance vendors is delivering the same performance and efficiency in a virtual environment. While many functions can be executed in software at acceptable performance, there is a trade-off between the flexibility that software can provide and the number of CPU cores and servers required to deliver the same level of performance. This ultimately impacts cost-efficiency and the bottom line.

Napatech NFV NIC enables multiple acceleration solutions
Napatech is addressing these challenges with high-performance solutions that are flexible, cost-efficient, and designed specifically for virtual environments. Our solutions are based on a common Network Interface Card (NIC) hardware designed to support multiple virtual networking, storage and compute acceleration solutions at data rates from 1G to 100G. The NFV NIC is developed specifically for NFV and can be deployed in any server at any point in the network. Based on a Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), the NFV NIC can be re-configured allowing re-use and thereby improved total cost of ownership.

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To allow optimal flexibility, virtual switching in NFV environments is preferably performed in software. However, achieving acceptable performance with virtual switching solutions is a challenge. Alternative solutions improve performance by bypassing the virtual switch or fully off-loading the virtual switch to a hardware accelerated NIC. But this approach can compromise the virtual function mobility and flexibility, which ultimately affects the ability to optimize resources and thereby reduces the intended cost-efficiency.

Using only a single CPU core, the Napatech Virtual Switching Acceleration Solution enables full throughput data delivery with zero packet loss at high-speed – without the need to bypass or fully offload the virtual switch to the NIC.

To find out more see: Napatech OVS Acceleration Solution

See also: OSV Acceleration Solution, Solution Description

Data processing, like encryption and compression, can be extremely intensive when performed in software and require a tremendous amount of CPU cores. By offloading these functions to accelerated NIC hardware it is possible to significantly increase performance and free CPU cores to support more virtual functions on the same server.

Napatech Hardware Acceleration Solutions utilize the programmability of the NFV NIC to allow dedicated encryption and compression solutions to be implemented in a co-processor model to several virtual functions. In this manner, the NFV NIC can be configured to a data input/output solution, a compression acceleration solution or an encryption acceleration solution depending on service needs or the data center architecture.

Tests have shown that hardware acceleration performance can be improved up to 40 times compared to execution in software resulting in significant cost-savings and greater efficiency. 

Common NFV NIC hardware based on programmable FPGA technology allows multiple solutions to be supported. A solution is specified in a FPGA image which can be remotely downloaded to the NFV NIC on-the-fly. 

The dual-port NFV NIC is designed to support multiple data rates including 8x1Gbps, 4x10Gbps, 8x25 Gbps, 2x40 Gbps, 2x50 Gbps and 2x100 Gbps. Upgrading to a new data rate is made possible by the ability to download a new FPGA image with the correct data rate to the NFV NIC. This allows the same NIC to be used in multiple locations in the network, reducing the variety of products and easing maintenance and operations. 

With proprietary appliances, adding new capacity, functionality and capabilities means upgrading to a new appliance with all the cost, resources and time that this involves. By leveraging a hardware platform that can be upgraded on-the-fly, it is possible to re-use existing hardware, procedures and trained resources. This extends the lifetime of your infrastructure, reducing capital expenditure needs and operational costs for a combined reduction in total cost-of-ownership.

With a common hardware infrastructure that can support multiple virtual services, applications and functions, centralized automation and management is easier. It reduces the number of exceptions and dependencies that need to be taken into consideration. The remote programmability and re-configurability of FPGAs also enables centralized management and orchestration of supported functionality in the common hardware in support of different service chains. 

The Napatech NFV NIC is a common hardware platform that can support multiple acceleration solutions for virtualized environments. Based on a Xilinx UltraSCALE FPGA, the NFV NIC is production-ready and can be programmed and re-configured on-the-fly to support specific acceleration functionality. This can include data input/output solutions such as the Napatech OVS Acceleration Solution or Hardware Acceleration Solutions such as compression and encryption acceleration. production ready NIC solution

Supporting from 1G to 100G data rates, the NFV NIC is a versatile and flexible hardware platform that can be used in multiple network locations. Designed for extended lifetime, the programmability and re-configurability of FPGAs can be exploited to extend the lifetime of the NFV NIC and server hardware by allowing capacity, features and capabilities to be extended in line with data growth and new industry solution standards and demands.

Specific acceleration solutions are delivered as FPGA images that can be downloaded to the NFV NIC to support the given application. Examples of acceleration solutions include the Napatech OVS Acceleration Solution and Napatech Hardware Acceleration Solutions.

The Napatech OVS Acceleration Solution is a data input/output solution where the performance of the open-source virtual switching solution, OVS, can be dramatically improved without the need for hypervisor bypass solutions. A seven times performance improvement compared to standard NIC solutions has already been demonstrated, using just a single OVS CPU core. This provides a powerful solution that does not compromise virtual function mobility - which translates into significant savings in CAPEX and OPEX at the data center level.

Napatech Hardware Acceleration Solutions provide co-processor acceleration for data encryption and compression. Rather than performing these functions in software on the CPU, the functions are performed on the FPGA resulting in up to a 40 times improvement in performance using just a single core. Since these functions are often common to several virtual functions and a required first step in processing data, a co-processor hardware acceleration offload provides the best solution from a performance, flexibility and cost-efficiency perspective.

Download NT200B01 data sheet