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SmartNIC

CodiLime Glossary

Some common networking terms clearly explained

SmartNIC (Smart Network Interface Card) is a programmable extension of a NIC - a hardware component that converts data packages to signals spread throughout a network. SmartNICs can be used to speed up networking, storage, and security functions. They can also balance the load and perform visualization.

SmartNIC is a Network Interface Card that can be programmed or supplemented with a multi-core CPU and optional FPGA integrated circuit. It is equipped with computing power that allows the hardware to offload some of the networking, security, and storage functions from the host. This, in consequence, frees up valuable processing power.

How SmartNIC works

SmartNICs are much more efficient at processing network communication and hence have replaced basic NICs in numerous applications. They can also help mitigate DDoS attacks. The hardware can be dynamically programmed to drop DDoS attack packets as the attack starts and stop dropping when it ends. Thanks to that the host system’s CPU is protected from being overwhelmed by the attack. Finally, SmartNICs are reprogrammable – they can be upgraded even if already “in the field”. 

Why use a SmartNIC?

SmartNICs are able to deliver both performance and flexibility with impressive cost effectiveness. They are often used to handle the changing needs of customers and keep up with network protocols as they evolve. On top of that, SmartNICs can perform the following functions: flow table processing, encryption, packet inspection, VXLAN overlays, and NVMe-oF. Finally, a SmartNIC provides significant security since it creates a virtual air gap between the host operating system and the SmartNIC’s OS.

Read more:

What are SmartNICs? The different types and features
Time to read

13 minutes reading

Publish date

6 Dec 2021

Adam Detko

Low-level programming

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P4-programmable smartNIC controlled by ONOS (video)
Time to read

65 minutes reading

Publish date

29 Sep 2020

Multiple authors

Low-level programming

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SmartNICs with P4 support
Time to read

20 minutes reading

Publish date

13 Jul 2020

Paweł Parol

Low-level programming

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