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Phones, Homes and Automobiles: A Peek at the Server Infrastructure Behind it all at MWC

By Ron Renwick | Mar 02, 2016

Covering seven huge convention halls in the amazing city of Barcelona, Mobile World Congress (MWC) is a trade show with a split personality. On the one hand the MWC that you will see in most media outlets is about amazing consumer product rollouts. From Samsung’s latest Galaxy S7 to a host of wearables from Garmin to an entire vineyard sensing and management system from Ericsson that falls into the Internet of Things (IOT) space to connected car technology from the likes of Ford Ericsson, new mobile products and solutions are the norm at MWC.

However, enabling all of these solutions is a tremendous back end of servers and networking that is also represented at MWC. Albeit with less fanfare than a Samsung Galaxy S7 or Mark Zuckerberg strolling down the aisle of an auditorium unnoticed because all of the audience was wearing Virtual Reality headsets, the infrastructure portion of MWC was amazing to say the least.

If you did not get to see us at MWC, what did you miss?

You may have seen our previous blogs about technology announcements as mentioned in blog posts about Accelerating 4G LTE Mobile Traffic, Juniper and Netronome Accelerating Contrail vRouter, and Ericsson Cloud SDN Demonstrated on Netronome Agilio CX. What did those solutions show?

Ericsson recently announced their HDS 8000 solution, an Intel© Rackscale Architecture Hyperscale data center system. As shown at the Ericsson Cloud SDN pod in the Ericsson booth at MWC, offloading Open vSwitch onto Agilio CX SmartNICs enables Ericsson to dramatically lower CAPEX and OPEX – up to a 20X improvement with normalized CPU cores at 22 million packets per second. Additionally, Ericsson showed that to support 220 virtual machines (VM) with standard network adapters it would take three racks of servers. With Netronome Agilio CX those same 200 VMs could be hosted on 1 rack of servers showing 60% lower TCO when using Agilio CX.

In addition, our partner Juniper, also hosted a great Netronome demo, showing the vRouter datapath offloaded onto the Agilio CX adapter. Using touchscreen monitors, Juniper could walk attendees through any of Junipers many solutions. All it took was a few touches to guide the customer to an animated demo of Juniper’s vRouter offloaded onto an Agilio CX adapter showing a 6X performance improvement over software only vRouter solutions.

Our partnership with Juniper also shows the flexibility of the Agilio product line. Either Open vSwitch and vRouter datapaths can be accelerated on the same SmartNIC without changing any hardware.

Without a doubt the biggest flash at MWC was in the new consumer products and the Internet of Things demos, but those of us in the networking industry know that one key fact always remains – all of that data must flow to and from servers where the applications reside.

Until now that data passed through standard network adapters and was processed by expensive x86 CPUs. Now, with server based networking, Open vSwitch and vRouter datapaths can be offloaded onto Agilio-CX SmartNICs which allows expensive CPUs to be used for their original purpose, running applications and hosting cloud tenants.