It Will Be A Melange Of FPGAs, ASICs, And General Compute Cores
During the Hot Chips conference this week we saw information on the upcoming AMD SmartNICs for the very first time. They have chosen an interesting architecture for their SmartNICs, not developing them using a mix of fixed-function ASICs programmable ARM CPUs as many others have. Instead they have mixed all three of the usual solutions into a single device. In theory this should give you the speed of ASICs for dedicated tasks, the flexibility of FPGAs and ARM CPUs to handle the heavy lifting. With their purchase of Xilinx, all but the ARM cores belong to AMD.
AMD’s SmartNICs will contain 16 A78-AE cores for high-performance workloads and four R52 cores for low-power operations. The SmartNICs will have four 32GB DIMMs, either LPDDR5 or DDR5 depending on your needs. The card will provide 200Gbps interfaces and 16 lanes of PCIe 5.0 or CXL 2.0 connectivity.
These won’t be great for your gaming rig, but if you deal with virtualization, like Open vSwitch and Virtio for instance, these cards may well make your life a lot easier. There is no word on when they will be available, but we will keep tabs on them to see if they work out as well as AMD hopes.
Over the past two years, AMD has steadily expanded its computing portfolio. This included the addition of FPGAs and smartNICs through the acquisition of Xilinx in 2020 and Pensando earlier this year.