NVIDIA Mellanox ConnectX-6 Lx 25GbE for All Launched

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Mellanox ConnectX 6 Lx OCP 3.0 Cover
Mellanox ConnectX 6 Lx OCP 3.0 Cover

The Mellanox ConnectX-4 Lx was a watershed product in the industry. This was a low cost, and relatively low power adapter that was broadly adopted by systems vendors and the industry. Our Mellanox ConnectX-4 Lx Mini-Review discussed just how important that card has been getting 25GbE networking adopted in the industry. At the GTC 2020 Keynote, the NVIDIA Mellanox ConnectX-6 Lx looks to take that mantle bringing new features to the newly acquired company’s adapters.

NVIDIA Mellanox ConnectX-6 Lx Overview

Key features for the ConnectX-6 LX are:

  • Two ports of 25Gb/s, or a single port of 50Gb/s, Ethernet connectivity with PCIe Gen
    3.0/4.0 x8 host connectivity
  • Security features including Hardware Root of Trust, Connection Tracking for stateful L4
    firewalls, and in-line IPSec cryptography acceleration
  • GPUDirect® RDMA acceleration for NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) storage, scale-out
    accelerated computing and high-speed video transfer applications
  • Zero Touch RoCE (ZTR) for scalable, easy-to-deploy, best-in-class RoCE without switch
    configuration
  • Accelerated switching and packet processing (ASAP2), with built-in SR-IOV and VirtIO
    hardware offloads for virtualization and containerization, to accelerate software-defined networking and connection tracking for next-generation firewall services (Source: NVIDIA)

Although the ConnectX-6 Lx will support single-port 50GbE, we expect the dual-port 25GbE model to be the more popular version. We also chose the OCP 3.0 NIC version to show as our cover image. OCP 3.0 is the defacto NIC form factor that we are seeing across vendors. Mellanox has been a leader in supporting the previous generation OCP 2.0 NIC and the new 3.0 variant. We think this will be a popular card you will see not just in open servers, but also those from major OEMs.

Final Words

NVIDIA is pushing new offload engines and capabilities such as GPUDirect RDMA for the ConnectX-6 Lx generation. As the company’s third-generation 25GbE “Lx” adapter, we expect to see lower power for the same workloads and more available capabilities than in previous generations.

The ConnectX-6 Lx is due to come out in Q3 2020, but we do not have an idea of pricing yet. It is likely that NVIDIA is reviewing pricing strategy of its newly acquired business unit.

3 COMMENTS

  1. 8 PCIe 4.0 lanes seems way overkill for 2x 25GBit/s, shouldn’t this only use 4 lanes when used with Gen 4?

  2. @Thomas,

    True, 8x PCIe 4.0 is overkill, but remember that the OCP slot interface also supports 2x 100+Gb/s adapters, so there are use cases where lanes/bandwidth will be required.

    The 8x interface is too allow the card to work in older OCP platforms that have PCIe 3.0 connections.

  3. “It is likely that NVIDIA is reviewing pricing strategy of its newly acquired business unit.”

    and that right there is going to become a privilege for the few, nVidia are not known for friendly pricing strategies in the enterprise sector. I just hope competitors pick up the gauntlet to widen the market with ‘reasonably priced’ alternatives, Marvel/Chelsio etc.

    Kind of surprised AMD hasn’t jumped onto the offloading-NIC train, maybe they’ll buy/partner up with Chelsio.

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