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PCIe Gen3 essential for high-speed FPGA-based Ethernet adapter cards: INVEA-TECH

Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
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Netcope Technologies makes FPGA-based hardware-accelerated Network Interface cards (HANICs). The company was at the Ethernet Technology Summit in Santa Clara, California this week showing two of its high-speed Ethernet adapter cards—the COMBO 80G and the recently announced COMBO 100G—that heavily leverage the on-board FPGAs and optical Ethernet modules. Both cards employ the same basic hardware architecture. First, high-speed Ethernet traffic enters the card through appropriate optical interfaces. The incoming streams are then processed by the on-board FPGAs, which implement a variety of network-monitoring and acceleration tasks. Finally, the processed streams are delivered to a host system over a PCIe Gen3 interface and/or sent back over the optical Ethernet connection.


What’s different between these two cards? The details.


The Netcope Technologies COMBO 80G HANIC accepts two 40Gbps QSFP+ optical (or copper) Ethernet transceiver modules. An on-board Virtex-7 690T FPGA receives the Ethernet streams using four of its GTH 13.1Gbps SerDes transceivers operating at 10Gbps to communicate with each of the two QFSP+ cages. The FPGA’s internal programmable hardware processes the Ethernet packets within the streams and communicates with the board’s PCIe Gen3 x8 host interface. Here’s a photo of the Netcope Technologies COMBO 80G HANIC:



 Inveatech Combo 80G hardware assisted NIC (HANIC).jpg


Netcope Technologies COMBO 80G hardware-accelerated NIC (HANIC)



Similarly, the Netcope Technologies COMBO 100G HANIC accepts one 100Gbps CFP2 optical Ethernet transceiver module and the on-board Virtex-7 H580T 3D FPGA receives the Ethernet streams using four of its GTZ 28.05Gbps SerDes transceivers operating at 25Gbps to communicate with CFP2 cage. The higher Ethernet data rates require an expansion to a PCIe Gen3 x16 host interface to handle the additional traffic bandwidth, as you can see by comparing the PCIe connector in the photo above with this photo of the Netcope Technologies COMBO 100G HANIC board:


Inveatech Combo 100G Hardware Accelerated NIC (HANIC).jpg 


Netcope Technologies COMBO 100G hardware-accelerated NIC (HANIC)



Because they’re based on FPGAs, both Netcope Technologies HANIC boards offer several network-processing options including packet sampling, flow monitoring, packet filtering, traffic analysis, and traffic distribution to multiple CPU cores.


The company’s Netcope FPGA framework enables rapid development of network applications using these FPGA-based HANIC acceleration boards. The framework provides a hardware-independent abstract layer that quickly handles repetitive development tasks such as memory control, network interfacing, and host communication and it provides a configurable interface to custom application cores. Products developed using the Netcope Framework cover diverse applications such as VoIP analysis, cryptography, HPC, security, bioinformatics, and high-speed electronic trading.


Here’s a general block diagram of the resulting systems:



 Inveatech NetCope Framework Block Diagram.jpg


Netcope Technologies Netcope Framework



(Note: Xilinx announced today that its Kintex UltraScale FPGAs are the first 20nm devices to achieve PCI Express compliance and are now listed on the PCI-SIG integrator's list. The UltraScale family supports PCIe Gen3 with its 16Gbps GTH SerDes transceivers and two to six integrated PCIe blocks per device.)