In an earlier post, I wrote about how the new Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 v3 product family delivers exceptional networking performance. In this blog, I want to look at how you can quickly deploy this performance with AdvancedTCA* (ATCA*) blades for applications like software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV).


A Processor Designed for a Big Impact

Based on Intel’s Haswell microarchitecture, the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 product family is specifically designed to optimize the power and performance benefits from the move to Intel’s 22nm process technology. With nine SKUs ranging from 6 to 12 cores per socket – or up to 24 cores in a dual-socket configuration – the processors deliver world-record performance for a wide variety of workloads. The family also includes low-power and robust thermal profile processor options for smaller form factor applications with thermal constraints. Frequencies range from 1.8 GHz to 2.6 GHz. Thermal design point (TDP) ranges from 52W to 120W.


Advanced features deliver improvements in a number of ways:

  • Innovations such as more cores and cache, and hardware enhancements like Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel® AVX) 2.02 and Intel® Quick Path Interconnect link (QPI), team up to deliver up to 2.2x the performance over the previous generation, significantly boosting output across a broad set of workloads
  • New DDR4 support delivers up to 3x the memory bandwidth using as little as half the power
  • Advanced cache monitoring and allocation help accelerate network performance and reduce latency
  • Intel® Data Protection Technology with Intel® Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (Intel® AES-NI) accelerates data encryption and decryption up to 2X faster than the previous generation
  • An increase in virtualization density of up to 1.6X compared to the previous generation means more workloads on fewer servers
  • Integrated Platform Storage Extensions (PSEs) eliminate the need for costly discrete storage components and help accelerate the use of open source software-defined storage (SDS) solutions


A Potent Communications Infrastructure Solution

A particularly advantageous communications solution results from combining these processors with supporting technologies like the Intel® Ethernet Controller XL710 Family, the Intel® Ethernet Switch FM6000 Series, and the Intel® Communications Chipset 89xx Series.


The Intel Ethernet Controller XL710 Series delivers proven 10 and 40 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) connectivity, plus extends Intel® Virtualization technologies beyond the chipset to deliver industry-leading I/O virtualization innovations and performance. Similarly, the Intel Ethernet Switch FM6000 Series supports 10/40 GbE switching with specific features for SDN environments, such as OpenFlow support.


The Intel Communications Chipset 89xx Series adds hardware-assisted acceleration for workload optimization. Applications that use its Intel QuickAssist Technology help increase workload efficiency by offloading compute-intensive security, compression and packet operations to the chipset. Some ATCA blades come with the Intel Communications Chipset 89xx Series built in; others use the chipset as an accelerator supplied on plug-in modules. Together, the CPUs, chipset, and Intel software form a potent platform for SDN and NFV (Figure 1).

Ingredients diagram.JPG 

Figure 1. Intel is delivering a potent platform for workload optimization on industry-standard servers for a wide range of communications applications.

New ATCA Blades

For the telecom market, ADLINK, a Premier member of the Alliance, offers its 40-Gigabit Ethernet aTCA-9710 blade (Figure 2) featuring the Intel Communications Chipset 8920 and Intel Ethernet Controller XL710 Series, and a choice of either the Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2658 v3 (105W) or E5-2680 v3 (120W). The aTCA-9710 includes 16 channels of DDR4-2133 VLP RDIMMS for higher clock and data transfer rates than in previous generation memory.


This new ATCA processor blade delivers unparalleled performance while keeping a thermal envelope under 105W through its use of Intel® Node Manager 3.0, a firmware-based power management technology. With the many enhancements to this latest platform from Intel, the aTCA-9710 makes a great choice for carrier-grade server, data center, and networking, as well as SDN and NFV.


Figure 2. The ADLINK two-socket aTCA-9710 offers a choice of either the Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2658 v3 (105W) or E5-2680 v3 (120W)

The aTCA-9710 gains additional performance from the ADLINK PacketManager, a software suite that includes support for Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK), as well as a management API for implementing network connections between server and client. With ADLINK PacketManager, the aTCA-9710 delivers up to a 12x packet processing performance improvement over native Linux and 40Gbps L3F linear throughput – while using just 20% of CPU resources. This performance makes the product ideal for applications such as load balancing, flow classification, DPI, next generation firewall, traffic offloader, and network gateways.


Another Premier member of the Alliance, Advantech, offers two blades for SDN and NFV applications. The dual-processor MIC-5343 40G ATCA blade targets datacom and the MIC-5345 40G blade offered in single- or dual-processor SKUs focuses on server and NFV applications (Figure 3). Both blades integrate the Intel Ethernet Controller XL710. ATCA systems that utilize these blades include Adantech’s 2, 6 and14 slot Netarium* Systems and their 2 and 14 slot Netarium eATCA systems.



Figure 3. The Advantech single and dual-processor MIC-5345 40G ATCA blade.

As a dual processor blade supporting 16 DDR4 VLP DIMM slots, the MIC-5345 offers best-in-class memory support (up to 512GB) at low cost, making it an ideal choice for typical server workloads and virtualized application scenarios such as NFV. It enables allocating high amounts of physical memory per virtual machine. In a single processor configuration, the MIC-5345 offers an attractive solution for applications which require lower processing power such as control plane and orchestration. Both blade configurations feature two 10/40GbE fabric ports based on the Intel® Ethernet controller XL710-AM2 with fast PCI Express gen. 3 technology running at up to 8Gbps per lane and best-in-class virtualization support.


Looking specifically at the telecom blade, the MIC-5344 includes the Intel® C610 Series Chipset and eight DDR4 R/UDIMMs for up to 512GB with ECC support. The blade supports up to four 40GBase-KR4 ports on Fabric interface and two 1000BASE-T ports on the base interface. One Fabric Mezzanine Module (FMM) port with front I/O support (type II) is available and two CFast/one 2.5" SSD storage device provide solid state memory for application and data backup. The blade provides all the failsafe and failover options required in a telecom environment.

Artesyn, an Associate member of the Alliance, offers the ATCA-7480, a two-socket ATCA* blade featuring the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 family and optimized as well for SDN, NRV and DPI (Figure 4). For extending the board’s I/O and storage capabilities, the ATCA-7480 is fully backward compliant with Rear Transition Modules (RTMs) available for the successful Artesyn ATCA Intel® architecture product portfolio. Through the Artesyn RTM-ATCA-78X-40G-HA, which uses the Intel® Communications Chipset 8955, Artesyn extends the I/O connectivity to multiple 40Gb and 10Gb Ethernet ports.



Figure 4. The Artesyn ATCA-7480 includes enabling software for Artesyn’s SDN/NFV solutions.

The main I/O interconnect from the processor complex to ATCA Zone 3 is based on PCIe supporting multiple I/O connections, meeting high bandwidth requirements up to Gen3. With two interfaces active and two in standby the aggregated bandwidth is 80Gbps. The hardware acceleration available from the Intel® Communications Chipset 8955 significantly boosts encryption/decryption throughput for security applications.


The ATCA-7480 uses the Intel Ethernet Controller XL710 Family to offer an Artesyn QuadStar* backplane interface consisting of four 40G Ethernet networks that connect all the blades in a system. System integrators have the choice of combining channels to create different redundant and non-redundant topologies, depending on the application bandwidth and availability requirements.


By integrating multiple ATCA-7480 blades with up to four 40G hub blades into a single shelf, applications can benefit from aggregate bandwidth up to 1 Tb/s in an appropriate ATCA shelf, such as Artesyn’s Centellis™ 8000. Also, the high thermal and cooling capability of Artesyn’s Centellis 8000 system, up to 600 W per slot, enables users to specify higher performance processors or more cores on the ATCA-7480 blade and ATCA shelf.


The ATCA-7480 blade includes enabling software for Artesyn’s SDN/NFV solutions, including support for DPDK-accelerated OpenVSwitch, OpenFlow and OpenStack plug-ins for managing virtualization services on the computing platform. The blade also supports Wind River Carrier Grade Communications Server, a fully integrated, comprehensive software platform that enables an NFV infrastructure to achieve the ultra-reliability and high performance mandated for telecom networks. (Wind River is an Associate member of the Alliance.)


Another ATCA choice comes from Radisys, an Associate member of the Alliance. The 10th generation ATCA-4700 dual-socket blade delivers up to 24 cores of processing power and up to 512 GB of DDR4 memory in 8 VLP DIMM sockets (Figure 5). This board uses the Intel® Ethernet Controller XL710 Family’s flexible 10/40 gigabit Ethernet connections to enable dual- or quad-40GbE ports via backplane I/O to deliver up to 160 Gbps to fabric in an active-active configuration. Front panel I/O includes dual 10GbE ports, dual 1GbE ports, two USB 3.0 ports, one serial port, and one Mini-Display port.


Figure 5. The Radisys ATCA-4700 enables dual- or quad-40GbE ports via backplane I/O to deliver up to 160 Gbps to fabric in an active-active configuration.

To enable a wide range of performance options, the ATCA-4700 is available with five of the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 ranging from 6 to 12 cores and from 52W to 105W. For enhanced performance in DPI, packet processing, and video optimizations, Radisys provides comprehensive DPDK optimizations and support for 6WINDgate packet processing software from 6WIND –an Affiliate member of the Intel Internet of Things Solutions Alliance.


Take Communications Infrastructure to the Next Level

The blades featured here combine the two-socket performance of the new Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 family with the Intel® Communications Chipset 89xx Series with Intel® QuickAssist Technology to deliver the best combination of performance, power-efficiency, virtualization, built-in capabilities, and cost-effectiveness for a wide range of communications workloads. What will you load yours with today?




Learn More

Contact featured members:


Solutions in this blog:


Related topics:

ADLINK is a Premier member of the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance. Artesyn, Radisys and Wind River are Associate members of the Alliance. 6WIND is an Affiliate member of the Alliance.


Mark Scantlebury

Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance

Associate Editor, Embedded Innovator magazine