There is unprecedented demand for networks in terms of performance and uptime. This is largely due to the rise of emerging technologies such as AI, the deployment of cybersecurity, hyperscale architectures and cloud services – but it has also been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as humans are on the network more than ever.
This is where SmartNICs, and specifically programmable SmartNICs, can play a key role. Organizations using SmartNICs are reaping the benefits of this increased demand for their ability to accelerate traffic and increase flexibility through programmability. SmartNICs will play an even more important role in networks as they evolve and expand.
Data center network traffic is growing exponentially, largely due to cloud, edge, 5G mobile and IoT. Combined, these unique megatrends are radically changing the way networks are built. The networks underlying these new models all share the common features of the transition to open, standard, low-cost server platforms to deliver most applications and services. As the demand for servers increases, so does the number of network interface controllers (NICs) used to connect them. This creates the need for a new class of NICs, a programmable SmartNIC.
There are a number of factors driving the demand for SmartNICs. Among other things, the performance requirements have increased, including the throughput speed PPS and Gbps. There is also lower latency for real-time applications and services in edge computing, and the need for enhanced security in a distributed cloud and edge network design.
Other factors include the need for:
- a greater number of sessions and flows for more users and applications
- have high speed to keep pace with the speed of innovation in software-defined networks
- Operation, Orchestration and Management for Many Network Elements at Scale
How SmartNICs Can Help  The increasing sophistication of attacks and the concomitant growth of network traffic are putting enormous strain on central processing units (CPUs). One of the ways these systems adapt is by shifting more of the CPU's packet processing workload to an FPGA-based SmartNIC.
SmartNICs increase server performance in cloud and private data centers by relieving the load and network processing tasks of the server CPUs. It's not a new concept, but it's powered by the expansion of data center network traffic. In fact, according to Omdia's analysts, the use of programmable NICs is experiencing significant growth. They estimate that programmable NICs will increase for workloads such as virtual switching and to enforce software-defined networking policies (SDN), generating more than $ 2.1 billion in revenue in 2024.
Next steps towards SmartNIC & # 39; s
Once you see the value of SmartNIC & # 39; s, you need to dig deeper before going on spending. First, it's not as easy as buying software and putting it on the server. You need to understand your expectations of the software in terms of performance and number of users. You need to consider how it will scale. That determines the hardware decisions you make in your network.
Making these decisions requires an in-depth understanding of your applications and users, and the requirements for each. Every application is a little different. For example, you can take applications A and B, put them both on a standard NIC and A will work perfectly while B fails miserably. So you need to very carefully evaluate the needs of each application or service, including how many users it needs to support at the same time and what characteristics it has. You need to evaluate performance requirements, in terms of bandwidth and latency, and what kind of workload it entails. These considerations are essential to ensure that you select the correct solutions.
Into the SmartNIC future
In the next five years, the size of the NIC market will more than triple, but the majority of those NICs will become SmartNICs, replacing standard / base NICs. This is driven solely by the need for servers to keep up with the requirements of the applications and services they host. Use the above guidelines to consider what works best for your organization's needs and create a solid SmartNIC strategy.
Written by Jarrod J.S. Siket .