Ethernity Networks, a supplier of data processing offload solutions on programmable hardware for accelerating telco/cloud networks, has developed a 200Gbps 5G User Plane Functionality (UPF) forwarding offload solution based on its existing ACE-NIC100 FPGA SmartNIC, which enables operators to invest in stages as demand for 5G grows.
Given current subscription to 5G networks, most operators are presently content with less than 100Gbps from their UPF software, which is the primary data processing between the Radio Access Network and the 5G core.
Mobile network operators will be able to start with lower-cost servers and a lower-cost SmartNIC, and only scale as they gain users and add data-hungry applications to the network.
Ethernity therefore developed a flexible 400Gbps fabric to cascade two of its ACE-NIC100 FPGA SmartNICs within a single server. This solution enables a pay-as-you-go model, in which an ACE-NIC100 provides 100Gbps of routing and UPF forwarding offload from the server CPU to its onboard FPGA, and a second ACE-NIC100 can be easily integrated into the same low-cost server when sufficient demand exists for 200Gbps.
Moreover, a second ACE-NIC enhances the UPF solution by acting as redundancy for both the NIC card and the network interfaces. Alternatively, the same design that is available on the lower-cost FPGA of the ACE-NIC100 can be hosted on a larger FPGA to support 200G router and UPF offload on a single FPGA SmartNIC.
Roy Chua, principal at the research and analyst firm AvidThink, said: “With 5G rolling out in stages across mobile network operators worldwide, Ethernity’s innovative pay-as-you-go approach for its SmartNICs provides the opportunity for network operators to appropriately modulate their spend by tying costs to a metric related to incoming revenue. This is in addition to the benefit of being able to completely offload 5G UPF data path to the SmartNIC from the server CPU.”
“Software-based UPF solutions require expensive servers with tens of cores to achieve even 50Gbps,” said David Levi, CEO at Ethernity Networks. “This means a large initial capital expense to operators, with no guarantee that it will be able to scale when demand increases. Ethernity’s 200G UPF offload solution allows operators to invest conservatively at first and to scale to 200G as it becomes necessary, while freeing valuable space on the server CPUs for functions like caching and deep packet inspection that are fully integrated with our solution.”