Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Intel - Is it an IPU or a DPU or what?

Intel has developed and sold classic Ethernet Network Interface Cards (NICs) for a long time, but many might not be as familiar with their product offerings in the SmartNIC and more advanced NIC categories. Intel breaks down their product offering as follows:

Intel Ethernet Connectivity Solutions

Intel presented on the work they are doing around their Infrastructure Process Unit (IPU), which they refer to as an "Improved DPU" or Data Processing Unit, which fits in the general bucket of "SmartNIC" and is developed by the Intel NEX Cloud Connectivity Group. This post focuses on that, since that is what they presented at #NFD35. I must admit, I am interested in hearing more about their AI Optimized solutions as I am sure they are being leveraged by some very large organizations for interesting workloads, perhaps a future NFD?

There were two features in the IPU that are something infrastructure engineers should know about. Specifically, the capability to build out reliable transport between two hosts who both have an Intel IPUs. The Ethernet fabric no longer needs to run special queuing and management to deal with congestion and microburst issues but instead, the IPU running Falcon, and leveraging programable congestion control, deals with it. Effectively, Falcon is the method for reliable transport over an existing lossy fabric which brings a lot of options to companies who may not want to build out a dedicated fabric for running storage or AI workloads.

In a shared fabric environment, it can be difficult to structure and provision all the access ports with the right queuing and policies. Given that difficultly, it might make sense, for smaller networks and diverse compute environments, to simple purchase the more advanced IPU's for the servers that require them and have the IPU deal with the lossy fabric issues.

The other feature was demonstrating the use of the IPU for general compute capabilities and also AI inference, and the markets that could potentially use the solution. They are definitely targeting a wide audience of infrastructure engineers who might need to run services and workloads but might not have the capacity, budget, or fabric design to support what they are trying to do. Intel sees the following areas as potential good use cases for their IPU.

IPUs In & Beyond the Data Center

 

You can watch the overview presentation from Thomas Scheibe w/ Intel at:



If you want more information about their Reliable Transport over Lossy Fabrics, which is called Falcon, then check out:



Intel also provided some actual demos and you can watch those at:



What is always a little interesting about Intel and their solutions, is that typically, you and I aren't buying directly from Intel. You are normally purchasing their products through a distributor or hardware supplier like HPE, or Dell, or SuperMicro. But Intel still wants infrastructure engineers to know what their products are capable of, so when you are building out the next server, you are picking the right SmartNIC for your specific needs. So it makes sense they are out providing this information directly to the public, or NFD events in this case, so you can pick and choose the right solution for your Data Center and Enterprise server networking needs.

- Ed


In a spirit of fairness (and also because it is legally required by the FTC), I am posting this Disclosure Statement. It is intended to alert readers to funding or gifts that might influence my writing. My participation in Network Field Day, a Tech Field Day event, was voluntary and I was invited to participate. Tech Field Day events are hosted by Gestalt IT (part of The Futurum Group) and my hotel, transportation, food and beverage was/is paid for by Gestalt IT for the duration of the event. In addition, small swag gifts or donations were/are provided by some of the sponsors of the event to delegates (I don't accept gifts but I do ask the sponsors to donate to causes that support Mental Health). It should be noted that there was/is no requirement to produce content about the sponsors and any content produced does not require review or editing by Gestalt IT or the sponsors of the event. So all the spelling mistakes, technical missteps, incorrect opinions, and grammar errors are my own.


Tuesday, July 02, 2024

Network Field Day 35

Network Field Day 35 (#NFD35) is happening July 10-11, 2024 and I am fortunate enough to be a delegate for the event. You can check out the full event schedule at the NFD35 website. The sponsors list has been growing so checking the site is the best until the event starts. I recommend watching live if you can and I believe LinkedIn is likely the best place to catch stuff.

So far the sponsor line up is:

I will be attending in person, and I will be doing my best to take notes and ask interesting questions. Obviously, there is no way we can cover all the questions that those who are watching remote might have, but hit us up on X/Twitter using #NFD35 or via the Tech Field Day slack channel or even via LinkedIn and we will all do our best to try and bring up the point.

So, there you go, let's get ready to have some serious fun with NFD35 as the delegate line up is pretty impressive! If you are at all into networking then I encourage you to follow along live for the events on the Tech Field Day website or via LinkedIn. If you are interested in being a delegate, you can check out the website, they have all the details up there.

- Ed


In a spirit of fairness (and also because it is legally required by the FTC), I am posting this Disclosure Statement. It is intended to alert readers to funding or gifts that might influence my writing. My participation in Tech Field Day events was voluntary and I was invited to participate. Tech Field Day is hosted by Gestalt IT (part of The Futurum Group) and my hotel, transportation, food and beverage was/is paid for by Gestalt IT for the duration of the event. In addition, small swag gifts or donations were/are provided by some of the sponsors of the event to delegates (I don't accept gifts but I do ask the sponsors to donate to causes that support Mental Health). It should be noted that there was/is no requirement to produce content about the sponsors and any content produced does not require review or editing by Gestalt IT or the sponsors of the event. So all the spelling mistakes, technical missteps, incorrect opinions, and grammar errors are my own.