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Virtualization Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Roger Strukhoff, Lori MacVittie, Gigaom Research

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Advantech Rolls Out Ultra-High-End Network Appliance With 100GbE Ports

Quad Socket Intel(R) Xeon(R) Platform Supports up to 400G Connectivity and Adds FlowNIC for Integrated Switching and Intelligent Load Balancing Within Standard Software Framework

TAIPEI, TAIWAN--(Marketwired - September 03, 2014) - In a pre-IDF briefing today, Advantech (TWSE: 2395) announced the FWA-6512C network application platform with FlowNIC technology for 100G flow processing. The platform is a highly integrated appliance designed to boost performance where I/O density and processing power need to be maximized especially for network security, deep packet inspection and traffic/policy management in non-virtualized and virtualized environments such as SDN and NFV. Designed for handling the increased data rates in next generation networking infrastructure it supports connectivity of up to four 100GE ports in a compact 2U footprint. While offering performance levels that previously required more complex and costly architectures, Advantech's FlowNIC technology integrates seamlessly with standard software frameworks such as Linux, Open vSwitch (OVS) and Intel® Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK).

To meet next generation networking needs at multiple 100G speeds, Advantech defined the platform from the ground up. The FWA-6512 series is architected around four Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-4600 v2 CPUs with support for SKUs up to 12 cores (48 cores total) and 1TB of system DRAM. The system incorporates a FlowNIC based on Netronome's NFP-6240 silicon that acts as an intelligent load balancer between the external networking ports and the integrated Intel® Xeon® processors. Unlike conventional network appliances that use the QPI interfaces of the processors to route traffic between cores and virtual cores on different sockets, the FlowNIC inside the FWA-6512C is connected to the four Intel® Xeon® processors using four distinct PCIe x8 Gen3 connections, which enables network traffic to be delivered to the destination cores with optimized throughput and minimum latency.

"With the introduction of our FlowNIC technology we allow customers to obtain maximum packet processing and application performance from the latest Intel® Xeon® processors," said Peter Marek, senior director x86 solutions, Advantech Networks and Communications Group. "The intelligent load balancing built into the FlowNIC supports millions of flows via significantly larger and more sophisticated rule tables compared to simple Ethernet switch silicon. This provides the basis for connecting to 100GbE network pipes and efficiently delivering a large number of flows to up to 48 Intel® Xeon® cores for application processing," continued Marek. "The most important thing about FlowNIC, however, is how easily it integrates into standard software frameworks. Customers can migrate seamlessly between lower-end platforms with regular NICs and our ultra-high-end platforms with FlowNIC -- without re-writing application code or writing special purpose processor code."

From a system software perspective the FlowNIC is seen as a set of four physical and up to 256 virtual NICs with standard Linux or Intel® DPDK drivers. While the data plane is handled via these NIC interfaces, the control plane interface is implemented via an Open vSwitch plugin allowing for open, standards-based load balancing via OpenFlow style rule tables. Applications requiring packet classification, traffic filtering and/or forwarding can offload the low-level packet handling to the FlowNIC alike, using the same API to free up valuable processor cycles for running applications. As the FWA-6512C with up to 1TB system RAM is predestined for virtualized environments such as SDN and NFV, intelligent Open vSwitch offload has been built into the FlowNIC to boost VM-to-VM communication.

"The goal of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is to move networking tasks out of vertically integrated, proprietary platforms to open, software-controlled architectures such as the FWA-6512C which can host various applications and services within virtual machines (VMs) that are provisioned dynamically through either local or remote management and orchestration software," said Paul Stevens, marketing director, Advantech Networks and Communications Group. "To scale these virtualized networking functions to 40G and 100G rates, CPUs with high core capacities and VMs with efficient and intelligent load distribution are required."

The FWA-6512C supports a modular I/O subsystem based on four PHY Mezzanine Modules (PMMs), each with up to 100Gbps I/O connectivity on first generation designs. Initial PMM offerings include modules supporting a single 100GbE port for LR-4, SR-10 and Intel® Silicon Photonics transceivers, dual 40GbE ports, eight 10GbE ports. PMMs with eight 1GbE ports, as well as quad 1GbE and quad 10GbE ports with advanced LAN bypass are available as well.

"Netronome is proud to provide Network Flow Processing technology for Advantech's FlowNICs," said Jarrod Siket, Senior VP and GM at Netronome. "Networks are changing, and a new paradigm is needed to keep pace with processing demands at 40 and 100Gbps. We designed our NFP-6240 chip for exactly the kind of load balancing and offloading implemented by the Advantech FlowNICs. We are excited to see these efficiencies implemented in such a high-performance networking appliance as Advantech's FWA-6512C." 

Netronome's NFP-6240 device and FlowNIC software are tightly integrated with the FWA-6512C to accelerate virtualized networking functions. As the network front-end the NFP-6240 accelerates VNFs by providing intelligent offloads including load balancing, packet and flow classification, flow pinning to VMs, and advanced pre-processing for applications and services. The large number of on-chip programmable resources for packet and flow handling combined with industry leading network I/O and PCIe Gen3 connectivity on the NFP-6240, incorporated with firmware, drivers and software for consistency with standard frameworks allow for the optimum split of workloads across the x86 and NFP devices.

Advantech will be showcasing the new products at the Intel® Developers Forum, September 9-11 in San Francisco, CA, USA.

For more information please contact [email protected] or visit www.advantech.com/nc.

About Advantech - Founded in 1983, Advantech is a leader in providing trusted, innovative products, services, and solutions. Advantech offers comprehensive system integration, hardware, software, customer-centric design services, embedded systems, automation products, and global logistics support. Our mission is to enable an intelligent planet with embedded computing products and solutions that empower the development of smarter working and living. With Advantech, there's no limit to the applications and innovations our products make possible. For Telecom and Networking markets, Advantech provides mission-critical hardware to the leading telecom and networking equipment manufacturers. Advantech's standard and customized products are embedded in OEM equipment that the world's communications infrastructure depends upon.

Website: www.advantech.com/NC

Intel, Xeon and Intel Atom are registered trademarks of Intel Corporation in the United States and other countries.

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