As part of Mobile World Conference, Intel is out in full force to show its latest products. One of those is the Intel FPGA Programmable Acceleration Card N3000 for Networking. That may sound like a long product title, but it is a product that makes sense at its core. Intel is combining its network controller elements, its FPGAs, and its software expertise in an easy to deploy form factor and solution.
Intel FPGA Programmable Acceleration Card N3000
The Intel FPGA Programmable Acceleration Card N3000 or Intel FPGA PAC N3000 for “short” is a PCIe 3.0 x16 card with both networking and an Intel FPGA onboard.
Companies this year are pushing ahead to win the 5G infrastructure market which will determine the winners and losers of this cycle. Wireless communications are becoming an even bigger part of the overall infrastructure picture and the data rate growth is occurring to endpoints much faster than speeds of fixed-line and LAN speeds are increasing. As a result, the industry is scrambling to do a major worldwide infrastructure upgrade to support the next-generation of devices and applications that 5G will enable.
STH asked what kind of FPGA is included. Intel responded to us that it is an Intel Arria 10 FPGA, a mid-range offering. The Arria 10 FPGA has 1.1 million logic elements. There is also 9GB of onboard DDR4 which seems like an uneven number. The dual Intel XL710 NICs support either 8x 10GbE or 4x 25GbE networking per Intel’s spec.
Intel says it is bundling pre-programmed RTL for a variety of functions to make it easier to integrate. Some of these are ready today, some of these will be ready to integrate in the future. The end goal is that acceleration and offloads just work, but in the meantime, Intel is engaging with the partner ecosystem to get supported solutions in the market quickly.
The company has several customers already working on the card. This is probably one that we will not review on STH, but it is a possibility we will start seeing more FPGA cards in STH servers. As Intel journeys on its quest to expand TAM beyond silicon, packaging its assets and software into higher-level assemblies is a way to get more revenue flowing. For customers, a pre-packaged solution lowers design cycles and makes support a clearer picture.