Linux Foundation to standardize and simplify the DPU ecosystem

Linux Foundation to standardize and simplify the DPU ecosystem

The Linux Foundation has launched the Open Programmable Infrastructure project to standardize the software stack and APIs that support data processing units to make them easier to use in enterprise data centers.

OPI will define DPU and develop standardized software frameworks and application programming interfaces (APIs) to make DPUs, also called infrastructure processing units (IPUs), easier to deploy in enterprise data centers, the OPI said. Linux Foundation this week.

DPUs they are semiconductor smartNICs dedicated to offloading network and communication functions from the CPU. Companies pursuing digital transformation are producing more data than ever. Having a dedicated network and security silicon helps reduce latency in network traffic.

The OPI project will create a community of silicon vendors, device manufacturers, software vendors, test and measurement companies, OEMs, and end users to develop standard architectures and frameworks for software stacks running on DPUs. Founding members of the community include Dell Technologies, F5, Marvell, Nvidia, Intel, and Red Hat.

Cloud providers and hyperscalers today use DPUs to meet the latency and reliability requirements of moving massive amounts of traffic. While hyperscalers code infrastructure to support DPUs from scratch, enterprises need vendors to provide standardized tools to tailor DPUs to specific tasks. Currently, DPU vendors offer proprietary software packages that are not interoperable with other vendors’ silicon or generally supported by device manufacturers.

The project will also develop APIs to connect standardized software stacks with other elements in a DPU ecosystem, including hardware, cloud-hosted applications, and software that provides remote provisioning and orchestration. Simplified and standardized APIs will help ensure applications are portable between an enterprise’s own data center and a cloud data center, which might use a different DPU in its infrastructure.

“This unites the industry around a common standard, [so] you can use DPUs anywhere,” said IDC analyst Brandon Hoff. Once a common set of standards has been widely adopted, DPUs “become really standard, they’re ubiquitous, easy to use, and you move from one place to another. market niche to a general market.

Hoff anticipates a widely supported standard in three to five years. Pre-packaged DPUs on enterprise hardware are likely to take five to ten years.

the Infrastructure Programmers Development Kit (IPDK)), an open source framework of drivers and APIs that the Linux Foundation developed to download and manage network infrastructure, has become a subproject of the OPI initiative. OPI will use the IPDK to build the initial drivers and software stacks.

Nvidia has contributed its open source DOCA software development kit to the OPI project. DOCA includes libraries, drivers, documentation, services, administration tools, and sample applications.

Other goals of the OPI project are to agree on a standard definition of a DPU, create an ecosystem of open source applications to run on the DPU, and integrate the technology with the Linux kernel. The OPI project plans to foster an ecosystem of open source applications for the DPU by integrating with Open Source Linux Foundation projects such as the Data Plane Development Kit Y Open vSwitch. DPDK provides data plane libraries and drivers for network interface cards. Open vSwitch is a virtual switch designed to enable network automation.

Ultimately, the use of DPUs in the enterprise will help network administrators run more efficient data centers, proponents said. Modern technologies like 5G, deep learning, and cryptocurrencies require high-speed network and packet processing capabilities to support the volume of data they produce.

Moving virtualization software to the DPU will also increase efficiency by allowing more virtual machines to run on a single physical server.

Madelaine Millar is a network technology news writer at TechTarget. She has previously written on science and technology for MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and the Khoury College of Computer Science, as well as covering community news for the Boston Globe Media.

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