Fri. Sep 29th, 2023
Napatech Introduces Offload Solution for 5G User Plane Function on NT400 400Gbps SmartNIC

Napatech A/S has recently launched its offload solution for 5G User Plane Function (UPF) on the new NT400 400Gbps SmartNIC. This solution is powered by the latest Intel Agilex(R) FPGA.

Unlike traditional 4G networks that rely on purpose-built appliances, the 5G packet core is implemented as virtualized or cloud-native software running on servers in edge and core data centers. This approach presents challenges for Communications Service Providers (CSPs) and enterprises as they aim to scale up their telecom infrastructure and private networks while maximizing the number of users supported on each server and minimizing energy consumption.

Within the 5G packet core, the UPF subsystem handles critical packet inspection, routing, and forwarding functions. As data rates increase and workloads grow, some service providers may consider offloading real-time packet processing from the general-purpose server CPU cores commonly used in virtualized and cloud-native networks. To facilitate this, Napatech offers a hardware/software solution with a fully-offloaded UPF fast path implemented within the Link-Inline(TM) software stack on programmable SmartNICs.

Napatech’s UPF offload solution is supported by an ecosystem of packet core software suppliers and server OEMs. Partners such as A5G Networks, Advantech, Druid Software, and Kontron have already announced products that leverage this technology, while others are in the process of integration.

The new Napatech NT400 400Gbps SmartNIC significantly boosts the performance of its UPF offload solution. It can successfully process up to 190 million concurrent flows, with a flow learning rate surpassing 2 million flows per second. Additionally, it achieves a total throughput of up to 113 million packets per second on stateful connections and guarantees full 2x 200G wire speed operation for typical packet sizes.