Asterfusion Arm-based DPU SmartNIC Solution

September 25, 2021

written by Asterfuison

DPU is a new class of programmable processor, it provides a computing engine for high bandwidth, low latency, and data-intensive computing scenarios, with CPUs and GPUs as one of the three pillars of computing. DPU can be designed to be a SmartNIC or standalone network appliance.


The popularity of the DPU is rapidly increasing nowadays. However, do you know how to decide whether your organization requires a Data Processing Unit in yours data center or understand its use cases ?
Let’s learn about Asterfusion’s DPU solutions

With the rapid development of cloud network, artificial intelligence, big data, 5G edge computing, data traffic is growing exponentially.

The growth of CPU computing power couldn’t catch up with the growth of network transmission rate, the demand of specialized computing on network side is highly increasing, thus the smart NIC card is born to offload various features like virtual network, security, storage, etc.

Offloading services that are not suitable for CPU but processing through DPU( SmartNIC ) is to meet acceleration requirements of the data plane forwarding and reduce the burden of CPU computing power.

Offloading services that are not suitable for CPU but processing through SmartNIC card is to meet acceleration requirements of the data plane forwarding and reduce the burden of CPU computing power.

Question 1 : Why We Need DPU?

In fact, the essence of SmartNIC Card offloading acceleration is heterogeneous computing which is facing challenges in following aspects:

  • The accelerating part accounts for a limited proportion. For example, if the accelerating proportion is 80%, the acceleration no more than 5 times max.
  • Data moving back and forth between the CPU and the accelerators, resulting in an extra consumption in acceleration rates
  • CPU+xPU architecture—CPU as the center, the entire IO path is too long, and IO becomes the bottleneck of performance

So here Comes DPU (Data Processing Unit)

Question 2 :What is DPU?

DPU is a new class of programmable processor, it provides a computing engine for high bandwidth, low latency, and data-intensive computing scenarios, with CPUs and GPUs as one of the three pillars of computing.

DPU is a new class of programmable processor, it provides a computing engine for high bandwidth, low latency, and data-intensive computing scenarios, with CPUs and GPUs as one of the three pillars of computing.


The DPU being specialized to operate efficiently on networking packets, storage requests or analytics requests while the CPU is not good at, meanwhile considering the needs of transmission and computing, responsible for traffic scheduling, I/O acceleration, etc.

DPU is essentially a computing engine, can be designed to a SmartNIC or standalone appliance.
With the born of DPUs, the data center network extends inside the host, DPU realizes traffic scheduling, I/O routing, and acceleration, thus becoming a TRUE fabric endpoint.

Remember True Fabric of Fungible? That’s it!

True Fabric of Fungible

Question 3: What are the Characteristics of DPU

DPUs need the following key features:

Many characteristics of DPU

-Well, does Asterfusion sell DPU?
-Of course, remember our SmartNIC ?

Asterfusion 's SmartNIC card

-Hold on a minute……we are talking about DPU,

Question 4: What’s the relations between DPU and SmartNIC?

-Just like what we have mentioned above:

DPU can be designed to be a SmartNIC or Standalone Network Appliance.

So, Let’s see our SmartNIC Architecture & Characters

Asterfusion's  SmartNIC characters display

Is it a perfect match for DPU’s rich character? If it’s not enough, look at our DPU architecture.

 DPU architecture.

We also provide an open software development environment to help customers develop their own applications with SmartNIC.

Asterfusion provide  SDK to help customers develop their own applications with SmartNIC.

Questions 5: What products do we have?

Asterfusion has following Marvell Octeon TX based DPU solutions

One is Marvell Octeon TX CN96XX chip based SmartNICs :

Asterfusion Helium SmartNIC equipped with Marvell Octeon CN96XX chip which has 2 models. One provides PCIe x16 Gen4.0 lane 4*25G interface and the other provides 2*100G interface.

It enables users to build high-performance intelligent programmable networks while preserving valuable computing resources in servers and reducing the total CAPEX of cloud data centers.

Another is Marvell Octeon TX SOC based ARM64 network appliance

Based on the Marvell OCTEON CN9132 SoC, ET1600 4-core ARM64 network appliance can be used as a low cost &power consumption Marvell arm server, also offers security and visibility features like hardware firewall, VPN, Probe and networking features for applications such as IoT/Fog gateways, Edge gateways and much more.

ET1600 with 8 * 1GE copper, 2 * 10GE SFP+ and 2 * 1GE SFP interfaces

Based on Marvell octeon cn96xx chip Asterfusion ET3000A ARM64 network appliance can be deployed into a variety of network scenarios, such as edge computing, NFV offload, network security device such as security gateways, network monitoring; Layer 3/edge Routers and switches, Software Defined Networks (SDN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV), Artificial Intelligence (AI), SSL/IPsec offload processing, LTE/ IoT/Fog / edge gateways, SD-WAN, 5G UPF application, intrusion protection system(IPS)

Based on the Marvell OCTEON CN96XX SoC, ET300 ARM64 DPU appliance can be used as marvell arm server, firewall, VPN, Probe ,IoT/Fog gateways, Edge gateways and much more.
ET3212A DPU appliance
Based on the Marvell OCTEON CN96XX SoC, ET300 ARM64 DPU appliance can be used as marvell arm server, firewall, VPN, Probe ,IoT/Fog gateways, Edge gateways and much more.
ET3424A DPU appliance
PS: Standard Linux operating system with DPDK VPP software packages will be provided.

Question 6 :

Scenarios of Asterfusion Marvell Octeon TX based SmartNIC and ARM64 network appliance ?

  • OVS/VTEP
  • SR-IOV /vhost-user
  • TCP Offload
  • Tunnel encapsulation/unencapsulation
  • 5G UPF offload
  • vFW/vIPS/vLB/vNAT
  • IPsec/SSL
  • XDP/eBPF
  • DPI
  • Compression & decompression
  • NVMe Initiator

If you need it in your network, please do not hesitate. Contact us!


Asterfusion Networks is the leading provider of open networking infrastructure solutions. We provide an open, disaggregated, and highly programmable network fabric for next generation data centers and campus with white-box switching. 

For more information on Asterfusion’s products and solutions, please visit https://cloudswit.ch/. For sales inquiries, please send an email to [email protected]

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