FPGA programmable hardware

The volume of data transferred over today’s high-speed networks is growing rapidly. The speed of growth has outpaced Moore’s law and CPUs are no longer able to scale their performance to process all the packets in a given network. In order to meet the performance requirements of data plane processing, many vendors select FPGA technology as an acceleration engine.


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FPGAs bring many advantages including a high degree of parallelism, efficiency with higher performance per watt compared to CPUs and field programmability, unlike ASICs. FPGAs are even being integrated on a single chip with CPUs to provide superb performance and flexibility. The configurability of an FPGA chip allows use of all of its elements simultaneously. Therefore, an FPGA is able to implement and run highly parallel algorithms. An FPGA component implementing an algorithm can be instantiated multiple times to run truly in parallel, which multiplies overall performance. In addition, each component can be fine-tuned to achieve maximum performance. FPGAs are also very power efficient. With the same power consumption, a single FPGA can replace many CPU cores. By using FPGAs, it is possible to significantly reduce a datacenter’s footprint by using fewer CPUs and building smaller appliances with lower power consumption.

The in-field programmability of FPGAs allows reprogramming the chip without having physical access. This significantly eases the upgrading and troubleshooting of an FPGA-based appliance, as those operations can be done remotely. The sophisticated boot system of FPGA-based cards from Netcope Technologies makes it possible to reprogram the cards directly over a PCI Express bus using a simple command-line tool. 

As for network traffic applications, using FPGA technology brings several interesting advantages. A single FPGA-based card can support multiple network standards. Netcope Technologies offers adapters with network interfaces for 100G Ethernet that can be split into  independent 50G/25G/10G Ethernet links in high-density configurations. Therefore, it is possible to use one hardware platform for two or more generations of network technologies, thus protecting hardware investments.

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