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 for 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