Netronome Brings the Efficiencies of Mega-Scale Data Centers to Mainstream Server Networking

January 26, 2016

New Agilio™ Server-Based Intelligent Networking Solutions Unite the Speed and Flexibility of Networking Software Innovation with the Performance and Efficiency of Hardware; Deliver Up to 5X Higher Throughput and Reduce CPU Requirements by Up to 80 Percent

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 26, 2016 – Netronome, a leading provider of high-performance intelligent networking solutions, today announced its Agilio Server Networking Platform, the first intelligent, software and hardware-based solution designed to completely and transparently offload server-based networking data paths, such as open virtual switch (OVS), Juniper Networks® Contrail vRouter, and Linux® firewall. The Agilio platform enables businesses of all sizes to dramatically increase the efficiency of their data center compute infrastructure, delivering up to 5X higher throughput while reducing CPU requirements by up to 80 percent compared to traditional NICs and server-based networking implemented in software. Restoring valuable compute resources reduces customer total cost of ownership (TCO) by delivering unmatched price/performance for compute and service node applications to service provider and enterprise cloud networks, while preserving standard cloud configuration and automation tools.

Modern data center applications are causing rapid sprawl of virtual machines, while deployment of large numbers of containers is on the horizon. To support such applications, networking features such as virtualization, security, load balancing and telemetry are quickly evolving in server-based networking solutions such as virtual switches, virtual routers, or Linux firewalls that use connection tracking. Server-based networking also has evolved as the most widely deployed form of software-defined networking (SDN) and is used for critical functions such as zero-trust security using micro-segmentation, virtual network functions (VNFs) and application-based analytics. However, such functions are compute-intensive and drastically impact the efficiency of the data center infrastructure, especially as networking bandwidth reaches 10Gb/s and higher, a norm in modern data centers. The Agilio solution can accelerate such server-based networking functions, delivering 20X the price/performance of the nearest competitor.

“While server-based networking is providing higher efficiency and scale for the world’s largest data centers, the need for SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV) is accelerating the demand for increased performance across the broad spectrum of cloud-based data centers,” said Niel Viljoen, co-founder and CEO of Netronome. “The purpose-built Agilio platform uniquely addresses a critical inflection point in the industry caused by rapid software innovations in server-based networking on one side, and the burgeoning cost of compute on the other, resulting in the rise of heterogeneous computing.”

Unmatched Price/Performance in Server-based Networking Price-for-Performance
Flow and tunnel processing at scale are the underpinnings of server-based networking. Agilio-CX SmartNICs are based on a unique flow processing silicon (NFP-4000) and software architecture (Agilio Software). The Agilio-CX SmartNICs work in compliance with standard networking software in commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) servers. The Agilio SmartNICs use onboard memory to support up to two million security policies, and deliver 28Mpps of throughput using hardware-based acceleration. This amounts to 8X more security policies at 5X higher throughput while consuming one-tenth the compute resources required to deliver scalable server-based networking functions.

Timely Hardware Feature Rollouts Leverage Rapid Innovation in Software
The Agilio solution is truly software-defined and can therefore evolve rapidly, in lockstep with innovations from the open source networking software community, without requiring a hardware refresh. The offload of server-based networking functions to the Agilio-CX hardware is implemented transparently, enabling seamless configuration using popular cloud management tools such as OpenStack, allowing for scalable cloud deployments. Rapid innovation now becomes feasible with the benefits of hardware acceleration, significantly improving compute efficiency and performance while maintaining operator flexibility and control.

Supporting Quotes
“Virtual switches have become an integral part of data center networking, however performance becomes a significant impediment at 10Gb/s and higher data rates,” said Chen Li, SDN project manager at China Mobile. “Agilio-CX SmartNICs save significant CPU cycles while improving performance for server-based networking features such as virtual tunnel end points and policies per VM or tenant, enabling higher service levels at lower cost.”

“Programmable networking data path implementation in hardware can enable differentiated performance and service levels on a per NFV application or per customer basis,” said Seiji Miyoshi, senior executive officer at Fujitsu Advanced Technologies Limited. “The P4 datapath programming language, as supported by Netronome’s Agilio-CX SmartNICs and related development tools, is simple and hardware agnostic, allowing for rapid and future-proofed networking data path innovation.”

“The Juniper Networks Contrail vRouter, one of the key components of the Contrail SDN solution, is ideal for orchestrating and automating cloud networks,” said Ankur Singla, corporate vice president and general manager of Cloud Software at Juniper Networks. “The Contrail vRouter and its ability to provide highly scalable secure virtual networks, combined with SmartNICs such as Agilio CX, allows the acceleration of a broad set of networking functions and the ability to evolve rapidly with changing needs.”

“Proven and robust cloud management with Mirantis™ OpenStack enables service providers and enterprises to accelerate their SDN and NFV adoption,” said Kamesh Pemmaraju, vice president of product marketing at Mirantis. “The Agilio platform supports standard OVS interfaces, helping to maintain a high level of cloud management user experience while delivering hardware acceleration and resulting efficiencies.”

“Netronome’s Agilio SmartNICs provide an excellent platform to showcase Tieto’s expertise in NFV solutions,” said Nicholas Hamblin, Head of Cloud and IP Business Unit at Tieto. “The Tieto and Netronome collaboration has demonstrated a 5X performance improvement over conventional solutions for virtual Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) while preserving the benefits of virtualization on COTS hardware.”

“Server-based network innovation such as overlay virtual networks has been a key element of data center virtualization initiatives. However, as CPU performance and “East/West” network traffic continue to grow, less and less of the CPU is available for the compute workload, and the software value proposition falls apart,” said Peter Christy, Research Director of 451 Research. “Netronome communications-optimized and programmable silicon, and the seamless OVS acceleration with OpenStack management as delivered by its Agilio solution, cost-effectively enables the CPU to deliver more application and system throughput, and can enable the broader adoption of server-based networking.”

“Existing server adapters are challenged to keep pace with rapidly evolving host-based networking solutions,” said Abhi Dugar, Research Director, Cloud Infrastructure & IoT Security at IDC. “The Agilio-CX SmartNICs couple the server-based networking software layer with high-performance hardware, enabling rapid deployment of new networking features as they become available. This saves valuable time to market and increases data center infrastructure efficiency.”

“As networking bandwidth demands reach 10GbE speeds and beyond, virtual networking begins to consume significant server CPU cycles, starving applications,” said Cliff Grossner, Ph.D., IHS research director for data center, cloud and SDN. “After significant innovation in software, the market is ready for hardware innovation to offload processing–intensive networking functions. Netronome with its Agilio platform is well positioned to meet this need.”

Product Availability
The Agilio server-based networking solutions include:

  • Production-ready Agilio Software currently supports OVS v2.3 and v2.4, with support for OVS v2.5, Linux Firewall, and the Juniper Networks Contrail vRouter expected during the first half of 2016. The Agilio host software package is open sourced, has been up-streamed to relevant Linux repositories.
  • The Agilio CX family of SmartNICs includes standard PCIe Gen3 low-profile adapter cards for customer deployments. 10 and 40GbE configurations of the SmartNICs are in production now, with additional 25, 40 and 50GbE configurations expected to sample during the middle of 2016

Product Demonstrations
Server-based networking scale and efficiencies delivered by the Agilio solution will be demonstrated at multiple tier 1 partner venues at the Mobile World Congress 2016 Conference in Barcelona, Spain the week of February 23, 2016. This includes featuring of the Agilio solution in the Juniper Networks booth (#2J60, Hall 2) highlighting improved NFV performance utilizing the Juniper Networks Contrail SDN Controller and Contrail vRouter. Additional virtual switch acceleration-based demonstrations using the Agilio solution will include Cloud SDN TCO savings, and virtual evolved packet core (vEPC) based efficient mobile core applications.

Supporting Resources

About Netronome
Netronome enables customers to increase the efficiency of their modern data center infrastructure, reducing CAPEX and driving significantly higher revenue per server. Server-based networking has enabled rapid innovation and transformed the economics for data center compute and networking. However, such deployments are facing significant scaling and efficiency challenges with the rapid adoption of 10GbE and higher bandwidth network infrastructure. Netronome brings back much-needed scale and efficiency, without compromising flexibility or the speed of innovation needed in today’s cloud networks running businesses of all sizes. Netronome is headquartered in Santa Clara, CA. To learn more about Netronome and its products, please visit or follow @netronome on Twitter.

Netronome, the Netronome logo, and Agilio are trademarks or registered trademarks of Netronome Systems, Inc. All other trademarks mentioned are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners in the United States and other countries.


Brian Sparks
VP Marketing Communications
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