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Intel Fuels FPGA Innovation with Acceleration Development Platform Strategy

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Intel’s development strategy for FPGA-based acceleration cards – powering data centers, networking, and telecommunications – enables rapid development and deployment of production-ready acceleration solutions based on Intel’s latest, fastest, and most powerful FPGAs. The new ecosystem-centric strategy, developed in close cooperation with Intel’s acceleration partners, focuses on Intel’s creation of flexible and customizable Acceleration Development Platforms (ADPs), including hardware, software, drivers, and comprehensive technical support. Launching this strategy are the Intel SmartNIC N6000-PL platform and the Infrastructure Processing Unit (IPU) platform code-named Oak Springs Canyon . Intel announced both FPGA-based ADPs last August 19 during Intel Architecture Day 2021.

The Intel N6000-PL platform, formerly code-named Arrow Creek, is a SmartNIC design with dual-100GbE capabilities, which is based on an Intel® Agilex™ FPGA augmented with an optional Intel® Ethernet Controller E810. This platform builds upon the success of the Intel® FPGA Programmable Acceleration Card (Intel® FPGA PAC) N3000 and delivers significantly more performance.

Intel acceleration partners have already announced and are deploying card- and system-level solutions based on the Intel N6000-PL ADP. These solutions include:

  • The Silicom FPGA SmartNIC N6010 and N6011 PCIe add-in cards are high-performance OEM hardware acceleration platforms targeting mobile 4G and 5G Baseband Units (BUs) and Distributed Units (DUs). Silicom’s FPGA SmartNIC N6010 and N6011 cards are based on an Intel Agilex FPGA and are designed to work with a broad range of Intel® Xeon® processor-based servers. The FPGA SmartNIC N6011 model adds an Intel Ethernet Controller E810. Silicom showcased its FPGA SmartNIC N6010/N6011 cards earlier this year at Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona 2022.
  • The WSN6050 SmartNIC Acceleration Card from Wistron NeWeb Corporation (WNC), designed specifically for the company’s 5G end-to-end Open RAN (O-RAN) solution with their Slim 5G RAN/Edge Server WSS3000 Series, includes an Open Distributed Unit (O-DU) that combines an Intel Agilex FPGA and an Intel Ethernet Controller E810. WNC showcased its 5G end-to-end solution at MWC Barcelona 2022.

In addition, Inspur – a leading cloud computing and big data service provider in China, and Ruijie Networks – also headquartered in China, have both announced that they are developing IPUs based on Oak Springs Canyon, which supports cloud infrastructure workloads such as Open vSwitch, Non-Volatile Memory (Express) (NVMe) over Fabrics and Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) over Converged Ethernet v2 (RoCEv2). Silicom is creating a unique IPU solution based on Oak Springs Canyon as well. The Oak Springs Canyon platform combines the processing power of an Intel Xeon processor and an Intel Agilex FPGA. (See “Inspur, Ruijie, Silicom Expand Intel IPU Ecosystem.”)

Under this new ecosystem-centric ADP acceleration strategy, Intel is providing reference platforms and related building blocks to partners to enable the rapid development of production-ready, deployable products for their end customers. ADP building blocks include working board-level hardware designs, software, drivers, enabled through the Intel® Open FPGA Stack (Intel® OFS), and technical design support. Current Intel ADPs are based on Intel Agilex FPGAs, but the company’s ADP roadmap includes planned platforms based on future Intel FPGA generations.

While the Intel ADP designs are robust, many solution providers have chosen to further customize the Intel ADPs to meet their customers’ specific application and workload requirements. The ADP strategy is specifically designed to support this sort of customization and the software and driver support that Intel provides to partners with its ADPs enable rapid application development of both hardware and software acceleration solutions. Consequently, Intel’s ADPs allow partners to develop new FPGA-based solutions quickly in response to today’s rapidly changing market requirements.

The production-ready acceleration products from Silicom and WNC listed above, appearing less than a year after the introduction of the Intel N6000-PL ADP, serve to validate Intel’s evolved acceleration strategy. They also stand as a testament to the strong development support that Intel provides to its acceleration partners and demonstrate the robust and mutually beneficial relationships between Intel and its platform partners.

Intel has accumulated many decades of experience in nurturing and growing a wide variety of partner ecosystems spanning the entire heterogeneous computing spectrum. The expanding ecosystem for FPGA-based acceleration is no exception and Intel’s acceleration partners say they continue to work with Intel because the company has long provided and continues to do an exemplary job of nurturing and supporting its ecosystem members, with demonstrably successful results in the marketplace.


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