At GTC 2021, NVIDIA made two announcements around its BlueField line of DPUs. First, around its BlueField-2 DPU or data processing unit. The second was around its next generation of BlueField-3 GPUs.
Mellanox NVIDIA BlueField-2 DPU Available BlueField-3 Samples in Q1 2022
The first announcement, and one that one may guess given the cover image, is that the Mellanox (now NVIDIA) BlueField-2 DPU is now shipping. The fact that we have one of those in the STH studio, and that you may have seen them in our recent ASUS RS720A-E11-RS24U Review AMD EPYC 7763 and NVIDIA A100 in 2U video/ article, means that indeed we do have our first BlueField-2 DPU in the lab with more allegedly arriving this week. Unfortunately, we only have the lower-end 25GbE DPUs.
Next up, on the roadmap (this is the older one, newer one below that we will discuss later) for about a year from now in Q1 2022 is set to be BlueField 3.
NVIDIA says that this will bring a 400GbE/ NDR InfiniBand DPU to market next year. Specifically, it says that this new chip will be sampling in Q1 2022 so we would expect that this means general availability will be some time after. NVIDIA also said that the next-generation has 10x the accelerated compute power of the previous generation, with 16x Arm A78 cores and 4x the acceleration for cryptography. Finally, NVIDIA disclosed that this will be a PCIe Gen5 device which should roughly coincide with the next-gen Intel Sapphire Rapids and AMD EPYC 7004 Genoa launches.
NVIDIA also updated its BlueField roadmap. BlueField-4 in 2024 now has 800Gbps networking, but the performance numbers, for example, the TOPS number is now significantly different versus what we were shown a few months ago.
The BlueField roadmap seems as though it is shifting significantly. NVIDIA is showing the technology beyond just the PCIe NICs. Instead, this IP is making it to more of the NVIDIA line, including its drive platforms.
Overall, this is an exciting time. NVIDIA is leaning heavily at this GTC on its pending Arm acquisition and this is one of the products that it can show today that combines Arm IP with Mellanox acquisition IP. In the future, with BlueField-4, eventually, the goal is that we will get a NVIDIA CUDA accelerated AI boost as well. NVIDIA is targeting a new generation every 18 months which means that we expect to see much more in this space.
STH is formally campaigning in the industry to standardize this level of device around the term “DPU”. You can learn more about a DPU in our What is a DPU A Data Processing Unit Quick Primer:
Update 2021-04-14: This is covered in our GTC 2021 video if you want to hear more: