Network Processor Units (NPU) FTW

Network Processor Units (NPU) FTW

Network processing Units (NPU) for the Win

Cisco-Catalyst-3850-Cavium

About the Author

Brent SalisburyI have over 15 years of experience wearing various hats from, network engineer, architect, devops and software engineer. I currently have the pleasure of working at the company that develops my favorite software I have ever used, Docker. My comments here are my personal thoughts and opinions. More at Brent's BioView all posts by Brent Salisbury →

Guest
2 years 5 months ago


I think the lack of openness has really marginalized NPUs. Years ago I did some programming on the NP4GS3 but there was very little “buzz” around it because it was encrusted in NDAs. There was only one open NPU – the Intel IXP – and so it got 100% of the mindshare in academia even though IMO its architecture sucks. (People said they were doing NPU research but really they were doing IXP research.) Now the “traditional” NPUs have been replaced by MIPS GPNPUs (e.g. Cavium, Raza/NetLogic/Broadcom) which should be easier to program but there’s still zero public discussion and zero cool Github repos because everything is locked away behind NDAs. Even if they have technical advantages, the fact that it costs you ~$100K to find out what they are basically kills innovation. Might as well just use x86 (Intel claims Sandy Bridge can drive 100 Gbps…)

Guest
2 years 5 months ago


Based on the sizes of the heatsinks, it looks like Cavium is doing almost none of the work. http://www.cavium.com/OCTEON-II_CN62XX.html It’s an NPU, but not a very big one.