Saturday, June 3, 2017

FPGA with AXI plus GPP with DPDK equals Arkville

And just like that, the passion that has taken so much effort and focus for so long, is launched. The launch this week of Arkville was, for Atomic Rules, a very big deal. By far our most ambitious product to date. We had a lot of help, and really could not have done it alone. The support of The Linux Foundation and the DPDK Community was vital. They ran a must-read terrific interview that really sums it up nicely.

Are we done? No way! Work is already underway for the 17.08 release. Check back here in August.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Hoplite Comes of Age

Jan Gray's groundbreaking work on Hoplite has spread far and wide. Besides Jan, nobody has grabbed that baton and run farther with it than Nachiket Kapre. At FCCM2017 earlier this week, we were treated to not one, but two, presentations extending Hoplite in exciting and new directions.

FPGA overlays are a peculiar thing. The proliferation of spatial heterogeneity in reconfigurable computing devices (Trimberger FPL2007, et al) has effectively killed off the promise of a relocatable circuit module.  Overlays fight back, in part, by delivering an abstraction that helps hide the spatial speed bumps.

Kudos to Jan, Nachiket and others who have advanced this work. They are delivering value to the community that may not be fully appreciated until we have our second 25 year retrospective.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Road to Arkville

For over a year now, five engineers have applied their passion on the journey of birthing a new product. Arkville is a big deal for Atomic Rules. Coming 18 months after our first product, the UDP Offload Engine, Arkville will be a whole new bag. We're betting that there is significant value at the intersection of two key technologies: DPDK and AXI.

We dont expect this to be an easy journey. Why? Let's take DPDK and AXI one by one.

DPDK is the de facto Linux Kernel Bypass mechanism evolving now for over a decade for use when you need to do useful work on multiple cores without the kernel stack getting in the way. Most DPDK users work with merchant ASIC-based NICs or virtualized NICs. Despite the "Data Plane" in DPDK, not all users see it as just an I/O mechanism. There's more to it.

Also over the past decade, AXI, a proper sub-set of AMBA, has emerged in the FPGA world as a standardized hardware interface and API. If you are building a Green-box fleet of RTL accelerators to go inside your FPGA; you probably want to use AXI for the plumbing. If not, you are probably writing gaskets with a throughput and latency tax.

Atomic Rules understands that both the DPDK GPP software world and the AXI RTL gateware world are two different things. And experts in one are seldom experts in the other. The guiding light for Arkville design has been to take the established DPDK APIs and ABIs and implement a DPDK- and AXI- aware packet conduit between GPP and FPGA. Conceptually abstract, but physically (at product launch in May) to be PCIe. We're excited about all of this, and if you are too, please get in touch. Since you made it this far, here's a hidden link on our site about Arkville in alpha-testing.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Paced Packet Player

We employed our Esopus Creek technology to build a DPDK Paced Packet Player (PPP), shown here inside a Dell R730 server. Four independent 100 GbE ports, line rate, ns accurate, no waiting. Red arrows show the added 12V supply used in this instance. Watch for more Esopus Creek in our upcoming Arkville product offering later this year.