Development and Validation of smartNICS by LTTS

Author photo: Sharada Prahladrao
By Sharada Prahladrao
Project Success Story

Client’s Background: The seismic shift and traffic explosion in cloud data center networking as a result of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), has increased the need validation of smartNICsfor a new group of offload network interface controllers (NICs): the smartNIC. The client, a semiconductor major, wanted to develop such high-performance smartNICs to offload network processing-intensive tasks from servers. LTTS (L&T Technology Services) was selected for its niche expertise in design and development of application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), System on Chip (SoC), and Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) solutions, including the validation of smartNICs.   

Challenges to be Overcome: LTTS had to port smartNIC platforms on the client’s Open vSwitch (OVS) reference solution. Performance efficiency had to improve as per KPIs, e.g., the data rate per port of 40/10Gbe, flexible port partitioning, exceptionally low power consumption, and high Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) performance. Additionally, efficiency of the smart network adapter had to be enhanced by three times for faster offloading performance.

Solution Implemented:  LTTS did the complete feature development, enhancement, validation, and sustenance for user and kernel space for multiple smartNIC platforms. Solution highlights:

  • FPGA-based smartNIC targeted to achieve:
  • Acceleration: Single route I/O Virtualization (SRIOV) to create virtual function (VF) and physical function (PF) to communicate directly to the virtual machine (VM) and free up servers
  • OVS hardware offloading with Push OVS rule to hardware to identify the packet flow for the first time and perform packet forwarding based on the identified flow rules
  • Multiple flows offload for regulated network traffic and enhanced packet switching performance
  • Ethernet driver/firmware update
  • Validation of NICs on multiple operating systems, such as Windows, Linux, and ESXi
  • Automated test cases using Python-based frameworks for minimal acceptance test and feature enhancement

Business Benefits: Multiple benefits were accrued after deploying LTTS’ solution. Intelligent offloading helped achieve three times better performance and reduced latency by freeing up CPU cores to perform primary revenue-generating tasks. Because of test case automation, there was up to 20-25 percent faster feature release cycle time. Other benefits include:  

  • Improved packet processing efficiency for telco/cloud deployments
  • Optimized resources at the data center with more flexibility and agility in the network chain reaction
  • Integrated product development to manage distributed functions and hardware solutions across multiple geographies

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