AMD promises faster and more efficient networks

AMD promises faster and more efficient networks

on 25/10/2022, by Andy Patrizio, IDG NS (adapted by Jean Elyan), Networks1016 words

Through key acquisitions (Xilinx and Pensando), AMD plans to optimize a set of networking technologies for the most demanding enterprises, cloud providers and broadband applications.

This time last year, AMD still didn’t have any networking products. Today, the provider has three, thanks to two separate acquisitions. This development strengthens the company’s position against competitors such as Intel and Nvidia since it can in turn offer a complete range of products based on its processors, including for the company. To complete its portfolio, remain competitive, and not be sidelined, AMD has had to develop its load accelerator offers and its network technologies. In this very active sector, Nvidia (BlueField), Intel (FPGA-based smartNICs), Marvell Technology (Octeon) and Broadcom (Stingray) are competing for the smartNIC market. Today, Intel can offer customers complete solutions, including smart network cards, said Brandon Hoff, research director for enabling technologies, networking and communications, IDC. This is a very important development for AMD, which can thus offer a richer portfolio to its customers, he added. Being able to offer compute and networking capabilities positions the Santa Clara firm as a one-stop shop for compute and networking, said IDC’s research director.

Takeovers of Xilinx and Pensando

The acquisition of Xilinx in February 2022 was AMD’s first significant step in this direction. Known mainly for its Alveo FPGA circuits, Xilinx also had multiple network cards, including very low latency models acquired during the acquisition of SolarFlare in 2019. The second step was the acquisition of the start-up Pensando in May 2022 for 1, $9 billion. Pensando’s Distributed Services Card has a Data Processing Unit (DPU) to offload networking work from the CPU, allowing the CPU to utilize its capabilities for data processing. data while the card handles network traffic. Although it has a diverse range of network cards, AMD is not bothered by overlap since the SolarFlare, Alveo and Pensando product lines do not target the same markets.

Forrest Norrod, senior vice president and general manager of AMD’s Data Center Solutions Business Group, called the SolarFlare family the de facto standard for and high-frequency trading in financial services that require a very low latency network. According to him, SolarFlare has well over 50% of this market segment. AMD believes that the technology in these cards can serve other areas where low latency Ethernet is important, for example, fabric for HPC supercomputing or backside fabric applications for GPUs used for learning the ‘IA, Mr. Norrod said again. According to AMD, the Alveo family is used in a variety of environments by hyperscalers and enterprises, most commonly networking, compute, AI/ML inference acceleration, video and image processing, computing financial, computational storage and video analysis. Pensando provides DPU and distributed hardware and software services to a wider set of customers who use them to accelerate infrastructure tasks such as networking, security and storage in their data centers. In addition to technology matches between AMD and these acquisitions, the companies share similar cultures, Mr. Norrod also said. It’s too often underestimated because if you try to integrate something culturally antithetical, it never works, he added.

Chips for enterprise, cloud and hyperscalers

Over time, customers can expect to benefit from a large, tightly integrated set of silicon, said Glenn O’Donnell, vice president and director of research at Forrester Research. The biggest opportunity for AMD is to increase market share in its current business by offering this larger family, he added. According to IDC’s Brandon Hoff, AMD will be able to offer a full range of data center processing solutions without relying on other vendors for networking, including smartNICs that can offload network tasks from CPUs. With these various networking products, AMD has more flexibility to offer enterprise customers cloud/hyperscale class networks, he said. The Santa Clara company can also provide better integration of CPUs, GPUs and DPUs without having to rely on third parties. AMD therefore has even more flexibility to offer enterprise customers cloud-class/hyperscale networking in the server realm, Hoff added.

Customers will see that we will continue to scale, said Forrest Norrod of AMD’s Data Center Solutions Business Group. Pensando has the capacity to support more customers, especially on the enterprise side, he added. At the recent VMware Explore conference, the vendor announced an 800G Pensando processor (the current chip is 400G) for 2024. Norrod also believes that with AMD’s smartNIC and smart-switch technology, enterprises will be able achieve efficiency comparable to cloud providers. According to him, Pensando’s hardware is similar to AWS’s Nitro DPU, which offloads the processing of network traffic from the CPU. Amazon’s Nitro provides a great example of what can be achieved with intelligent deployment of a smartNIC in the data center… Nitro frees up a lot of compute cycles and makes Amazon’s cloud much more efficient, a- he precise. AMD plans to use its three networking products more widely, but it will take some time for the technology to move through the product pipeline, Norrod said. It will take about two to three years to see the first developments appear in the products, he added.