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NT100A01 SmartNIC

Link-Virtualization™ Software
for Napatech FPGA-based SmartNICs

Napatech SmartNICs and Link-Virtualization™ Software provide a hardware-based solution for OVS offload, dramatically increasing performance while reducing CPU consumption. The Link-Virtualization™ Software offloads and accelerates the Open vSwitch (OVS) dataplane to provide increased network performance and much better CPU efficiency with lower complexity and enhanced scalability than alternatives.

Link-Virtualization™ Software supports a broad range of applications and use cases – and can immediately improve an organization’s ability to monetize virtualized applications.

Watch video: Link-Virtualization™ Software and Hardware for 5G Network Functions Virtualization (NFV).
Presented by Napatech VP of Product Management Daniel Proch.

Key Benefits

Napatech provides the unique combination of the industries highest performance FPGA-based SmartNIC with software for networks requiring Open vSwitch Offload and Acceleration.

High Performance

Scale networks to 100Gbps and 60Mpps to the host

Significantly Reduced CPU Utilization

Return CPU cores to applications and services

Total Cost of Ownership

Cost effective scaling for your data center


Completely programmable for custom requirements

Environmentally Sound

Lower power, space, and cooling

Solution Overview

Network operators are using virtualized solutions in their network architectures based on open and standard computing platforms, offering the ability to optimize equipment costs and operational expenses by deploying services as software.

For virtualized application hosting, Open vSwitch (OVS) is the default multilayer switching solution. But software-based virtual switching requires significant CPU resources, resulting in low data throughput and wasting valuable CPU cycles.

Napatech’s Link-Virtualization™ Software and FPGA-based SmartNICs offer a 60x performance improvement compared to alternative approaches and saves significant CPU resources.

Watch video: By offloading virtual switching from server CPUs to programmable Smart Network Interface Cards (SmartNICs), operators of edge data centers free up CPU cores to run additional revenue-generating applications and services, resulting in compelling CAPEX and OPEX reductions.
Presented by Napatech Senior Director Business Development Charlie Ashton.

vSwitch offload ROI analysis tool

Using this interactive tool, you can estimate the Return on Investment (RoI) benefits that your specific use case could be expected to achieve by using a Napatech SmartNIC, together with the Link-Virtualization™ software, to offload virtual switching from your server’s CPU. Based on your inputs that characterize your workload, your server configuration and your data center, the tool calculates your expected savings in both CAPEX and OPEX over the analysis period that you specify.

The tool is easy to understand:
• Your inputs go in the purple cells, which are the only cells in the worksheet that are editable;
• The numbers in the grey cells represent intermediate calculations;
• The important results, reflected in the charts, are in the blue cells;
• And if you have any questions, or need a different approach to this kind of analysis, our experts are here to help.

First, let’s get started by calculating the improvement you can expect in Virtual Machine density….

  1. From the first drop-down menu, select the total number of CPU cores in each of your servers.
  2. From the second drop-down menu, select the packet size that best represents your network traffic.
  3. Enter the total bidirectional bandwidth (in millions of packets per second) that is required for each Virtual Machine (VM). For reference, the worksheet will also express this in terms of gigabits per second, based on the packet size that you specified above.
  4. From the “NIC Assumptions” drop-down menu, select the throughput of your chosen NIC for both the OVS-DPDK and SmartNIC Offload scenarios.
  5. In the section “Optimum Configuration of CPU Cores”, select one vSwitch core for the SmartNIC scenario if the OVS slow path runs on the host CPU, or zero if the slow path is offloaded to the SmartNIC.

Next, let’s use the second part of the worksheet to see how your VM density improvement leads to quantifiable financial savings:

  1. Enter the total number of VMs that you need to run in your data center.
  2. Enter your best estimate of the unit cost for your servers, as well as for the NICs.
  3. Enter your OPEX-related inputs such as typical server OPEX as a percentage of CAPEX, NIC power, cost of power and Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE).
  4. Enter the typical length of your server refresh cycle and indicate what time period you’d like to use for the analysis of CAPEX and OPEX savings.

Based on this final set of inputs, the worksheet calculates the CAPEX and OPEX savings that you can expect to achieve by offloading the vSwitch function onto a SmartNIC, for the specific use case and configuration that you’ve defined.

If you have questions about the operation of this worksheet, or you’d like to be able to estimate the benefits of vSwitch offloading through a different approach, please contact us so our experts can help with your analysis.

Disclaimer: This tool is intended for informational purposes only. Any information herein is believed to be reliable, however Napatech assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the results produced. Napatech disclaims any and all liabilities.

CPU Core Utilization


SmartNIC Offload

Key Features

Link-Virtualization™ Software for Napatech

Napatech Link-Virtualization™ Software provides the Napatech SmartNIC family with a robust feature set and extendable architecture allowing plug-and-play virtualized dataplane offload support for Napatech SmartNICs. Key features are listed below.

Full offload of the virtual switching data plane

Up to 60M pps data delivery to virtualized applications

100Gbps switching throughput

Configurable match processing for L2, L3, L4

VLAN / QinQ / VxLAN support

1000 megaflows, millions of individual flows

Based on standard OVS and DPDK

Extensive actions

VirtIO / live migration support

Load balancing

Port mirroring


Link-Virtualization™ Performance Demo

Napatech’s hardware-based OVS offload solution offers a 6X gain compared to OVS DPDK and 60X gain compared to OVS kernel in performance, while reducing the CPU cycle consumption by as much as 90% compared to alternatives. While kernel based or user space (DPDK) versions of OVS are incredibly CPU intensive with network intensive workloads, Napatech’s SmartNICs and Virtualization software accelerate OVS and provide much better CPU efficiency, lower complexity, enhanced scalability and increased network performance.

Tested with 64byte frames, 1024 megaflows, 8 million individual flows.

For virtualized application hosting, OVS is the default solution for demultiplexing traffic from the network to, from, and between applications running in VMs or containers. Software-only implementations of OVS, though, fail to meet the performance and scale requirements of virtualized applications. Additionally, running OVS in software, which is the standard practice, uses significant CPU resources simply for directing traffic, stealing those CPU resources from revenue generating applications.

Custom Workload Acceleration

Data processing workloads, like encryption, regular expression matching and compression, can be extremely compute intensive when performed in software and require a tremendous amount of CPU cores. By offloading these functions to accelerated SmartNICs, it is possible to significantly increase the workload performance and free CPU cores to support more virtualized applications on the same server.

Napatech’s hardware offload solution utilizes the SmartNIC programmability to allow custom workloads to be implemented in an inline or look-aside model.

To find out more see: Napatech Hardware Offload Solution.

VM-to-VM Monitoring

VM-to-VM Monitoring provides insight into both North-South and East-West data in virtualized servers without consuming CPU cores.

Napatech’s VM-to-VM monitoring solution can replicate traffic in hardware based in specific ports or flow-based rules and send the mirrored traffic to either another VM or an external analytics solution.

To find out more see: Napatech VM-to-VM Monitoring Solution.

Compatible Napatech FPGA-based SmartNICs

The Link-Virtualization™ Software is available for our family of FPGA-based SmartNICs.

NT200A02 SmartNIC


The NT200A02 SmartNIC is a full height, half length QSFP28 PCIe card based on a powerful FPGA-based architecture which enables 8x10G, 2×10/25G, 2x40G or 2x100G applications. The solution offers flexibility to create high-performance solutions in server platforms for supporting network infrastructures up to 100G and and can be reconfigured to support specific SmartNIC functionality. The NT200A02 is available in both a self-contained cooling and passive cooling version.

NT50B01 SmartNIC

2×1/10G, 2×10/25G

The NT50B01 SmartNIC is a low-profile SFP28 PCIe card specifically engineered to reduce footprint without compromising on performance. The design delivers best-of-breed reliability and includes a proprietary full body heatsink developed to ensure optimal thermal performance for all critical components. Based on a powerful FPGA-based architecture, the NT50B01 SmartNIC enables 10/25G applications and can be reconfigured to support specific SmartNIC functionality.

Resources and downloads

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