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Guaranteed Zero Packet Loss with 60% Throughput Improvement

Napatech Link-Capture™ Software
for Intel® Programmable Acceleration Card with Intel Arria® 10 GX FPGA

Solution Description

Napatech Link-Capture™ Software for Intel® PAC
Napatech has created a hardware acceleration solution that alleviates the load on the CPU and thereby greatly increases application performance. This has been achieved by making the industry-leading Napatech Link-Capture™ Software available for the Intel® Programmable Acceleration Card (PAC) with Intel Arria® 10 GX FPGA.

The software’s intelligent feature set offloads processing and analysis of Ethernet data from application software, while ensuring optimal use of the standard server’s resources leading to outstanding application acceleration. Other capabilities include network traffic capture at full line rate, with zero-loss packet capture, hardware timestamping and tunneling support, all on an Intel PAC.

Key Solution Features
• Line rate network throughput for all packet sizes
• Lossless capture for perfect inspection and detection
• Onboard packet buffering during micro-burst or PCI Express bus congestion scenarios
• Advanced host memory buffer management for ultra-high CPU cache performance
• Packet classification, match/action filtering and zero-copy forwarding
• Intelligent and flexible load distribution to 64 queues improving CPU cache performance by always delivering the same flows to the same cores

Building Affordable Solutions
Managing and securing modern networks is a continuous challenge. As the volumes of data increase from a growing number of devices, there is a need for continuous investment in new and more powerful network management, security and test and measurement solutions.

However, IT budgets are not growing at the same rate as data volumes or the number of devices to be connected. It is for this reason that more and more enterprises and government organizations are building their own solutions based on low-cost standard servers. The availability of commercial software as well as open-source software and tools for in-house development are empowering enterprises and government organizations to build more affordable solutions that meet their exact needs and thereby stretch their limited IT budgets.

The challenge of building your own network management, security, or test and measurement solution is that low-cost servers, and in particular standard Network Interface Cards (NICs), are not ideal for these kinds of applications. Issues such as packet loss and non-deterministic performance undermine analysis efforts.

The Napatech Link Capture Software for Intel PAC with Intel Arria® 10 GX FPGA addresses precisely these issues with a solution that guarantees zero packet loss and deterministic performance under all conditions. This allows enterprises and government organizations to build affordable, yet reliable network management, security and test and measurement solutions based on low-cost servers.

The Napatech / Intel difference
The Intel PAC and Napatech Link Capture Software solution is designed to ensure that no packets are lost under any circumstances. Packet loss can occur in various ways, such as loss due to a lack of capacity on the NIC, PCIe bus congestion, bad memory management, busy CPUs, etc. All of these potential sources of packet loss have been taken into consideration, providing a highly reliable solution.

For example, the Intel PAC has on-board buffer memory, which allows delays due to PCIe bus congestion or busy CPUs or even network congestion to be absorbed without losing packets. These are stored in buffer memory and transferred to the application as soon as it is possible.

Turning acceleration into value
These performance advantages ultimately allow you to:
• Maximize your server performance by improving CPU utilization
• Minimize your TCO by reducing the number of servers required, thus optimizing rack space, power, cooling and operational expenses
• Diminish your time-to-resolution, thereby enabling greatly increased efficiency

Outstanding Lossless Performance
Napatech Link Capture Software ensures that data is transferred from the Intel PAC to the application using a non-blocking data delivery mechanism that ensures efficient utilization of the PCIe bus and maximum throughput for all packet sizes.

Compared to a standard NIC, the Intel PAC and Napatech Link-Capture™ Software solution provides full theoretical throughput for all packet sizes, also in burst situations, which are common in Ethernet networks.

Test configuration
The outstanding lossless performance improvements were based on a test configuration using a Dell PowerEdge R740 with a standard NIC and the Intel PAC. Test configuration: dual-socket Dell R740 with Intel® Xeon® Gold 6138 2.0 GHz, 128GB RAM running CentOS 7.5.

Maximum Throughput
The tests were based on the RFC2544 standard for zero packet loss testing with one NIC attached to a single processor and one port assigned per logical core using one queue. For the standard NIC, this resulted in four logical cores and four queues for 4x10G ports, which provides a total throughput of 40G. The i40e DPDK PMD driver was used for the test and the l3fwd DPDK was used as the test application.

Lossless Throughput Test

Throughput (Mpps)

  • Standard NIC
  • Intel PAC A10

Worker Threads

The Intel PAC is a 4x10G/1x40G card, but offers the same total throughput of 40G on a single port, single core and single queue. For the 4x10G configuration, this is achieved through packet merging in hardware between the four ports in nanosecond precise time stamp order.

The test demonstrated that packet loss occurred for the standard NIC for packet sizes below 128 bytes or at throughput rates higher than 33.78 Mbps. The Intel PAC and Napatech Link Capture Software solution experienced no packet loss.

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