SmartNIC offers 5G User Plane Function offload capability

SmartNIC offers 5G User Plane Function offload capability

Business news |
By Jean-Pierre Joosting

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Napatech™ has announced the availability of its offload capability for 5G User Plane Function (UPF) on the new NT400 400Gbps SmartNIC which leverages the latest Intel Agilex® FPGA.

Unlike most 4G networks based on purpose-built appliances, the 5G packet core is implemented as virtualized or cloud-native software running on servers located within edge and core data centers. As CSPs and enterprises scale up the deployments of their telecom infrastructure and private networks, they face strong financial pressure to maximize the number of users that can be supported on each server while also minimizing the energy consumption of their edge data centers.

Within the 5G packet core, the UPF subsystem represents the highest compute workload, performing critical packet inspection, routing and forwarding functions. As data rates increase and workloads proliferate, some service providers may consider offloading some real-time packet processing from general-purpose server CPU cores widely deployed in today’s virtualized and cloud native networks. To support this, Napatech enables 5G core vendors to address the key business challenges around packet core deployments through its integrated hardware/software offering that comprises a fully-offloaded UPF fast path implemented within the Link-Inline™ software stack, running on programmable SmartNICs. Napatech’s UPF offload capability is supported by an ecosystem of packet core software suppliers and server OEMs, with partners such as A5G Networks, Advantech, Druid Software and Kontron having already announced products that leverage this technology, while others have integrations in progress.

The new Napatech NT400 400Gbps SmartNIC maximizes the performance of its UPF offload capability, processing up to 190 million concurrent flows with a flow learning rate greater than 2 million flows per second, achieving a total throughput of up to 113 million packets per second on stateful connections and ensuring full 2x 200G wire speed operation for typical packet sizes.

“In a representative use case that we analyzed, the performance of the NT400 enabled an operator to support 90x more users per server than with a software-based UPF and 7x more users per server than with a competing ASIC-based SmartNIC, leading to compelling reductions in server power consumption in both scenarios,” said Charlie Ashton, senior director of business development, Napatech.


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