NVIDIA has introduced the data processing unit (DPU), a new kind of processor supported by DOCA, a novel data-centre-infrastructure-on-a-chip architecture that enables breakthrough networking, storage and security performance.

It features the new NVIDIA BlueField-2 family of DPUs and NVIDIA DOCA software development kit for building applications on DPU-accelerated data centre infrastructure services.

“The data centre has become the new unit of computing,. DPUs are an essential element of modern and secure accelerated data centres in which CPUs, GPUs and DPUs are able to combine into a single computing unit that’s fully programmable, AI-enabled and can deliver levels of security and compute power not previously possible,” said Jensen Huang, Founder and CEO of NVIDIA at his GTC 2020 keynote address.

Optimised to offload critical networking, storage and security tasks from CPUs, BlueField-2 DPUs enable organizations to transform their IT infrastructure into state-of-the-art data centres that are accelerated, fully programmable and armed with “zero-trust” security features to prevent data breaches and cyberattacks.

A single BlueField-2 DPU can deliver the same data centre services that could consume up to 125 CPU cores. This frees up valuable CPU cores to run a wide range of other enterprise applications.

DPU lineup

The DPU lineup comprises:

  1. The NVIDIA BlueField-2 DPU, which features all of the capabilities of the NVIDIA Mellanox ConnectX-6 Dx SmartNIC combined with powerful Arm cores.
  2. The NVIDIA BlueField-2X DPU, which includes all the key features of a BlueField-2 DPU enhanced with an NVIDIA Ampere GPU’s AI capabilities that can be applied to data centre security, networking and storage tasks.

The new NVIDIA DOCA SDK enables developers to build applications on DPU-accelerated data centre infrastructure services, similar to the NVIDIA CUDA programming model that enables developers to build GPU-accelerated applications.

DOCA provides developers a comprehensive, open platform for building software-defined, hardware-accelerated networking, storage, security and management applications running on the BlueField family of DPUs.

DOCA is fully integrated into NVIDIA NGC, a software catalogue offering a convenient, containerized software environment for third-party application providers to leverage advanced DPU data centre-accelerated services and to develop, certify and distribute applications to customers.

Sampling now

Leading server manufacturers worldwide — including ASUS, Atos, Dell Technologies, Fujitsu, Gigabyte, H3C, Inspur, Lenovo, Quanta/QCT, and Supermicro — plans to integrate NVIDIA DPUs into their enterprise server offerings.

BlueField-2 DPUs are sampling now and expected to be featured in new systems from leading server manufacturers in 2021. BlueField-2X DPUs are under development and are also expected to become available in 2021.