Mellanox Accelerates Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Networking for the Hybrid Cloud Era

Mellanox and Red Hat announce the next generation enterprise Linux OS for the hyrbid-cloud era.  
Cloud Computing, Cloud Networking

How Mellanox ConnectX cards accelerate Red Hat’s enterprise Linux OS, OpenStack and OpenShift networking

A few weeks ago, Mellanox was excited to witness the standing ovation at Red Hat Summit as the Red Hat team released their next-generation enterprise Linux OS for general availability. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8 brings numerous groundbreaking enhancements and innovations. Primarily, it is the operating system redesigned for the hybrid cloud era – built to support the workloads and operations that stretch from enterprise datacenters to multiple public clouds. The rise of Linux containers, DevOps automation and artificial intelligence (AI) calls for an enterprise-grade, developers’ choice operating-system that unlocks maximum performance, simplicity and agility.

Mellanox collaborates closely with Red Hat and has for several years contributed to Red Hat Enterprise Linux as well as to Red Hat OpenStack Platform and Red Hat OpenShift Platform. RHEL 8 is another great opportunity to share our product achievements for the benefit and success of our joint end-customers.

Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux 8 is refining hybrid cloud innovation

Blazing Fast Meets Out-of-Box Simplicity

RHEL 8 ships with a pre-packaged Mellanox driver that offers advanced networking capabilities powered by Mellanox’s ConnectX network adapter cards. The Mellanox inbox driver within RHEL supports a wide range of ConnectX product families, Ethernet and InfiniBand networking protocols, and staggering speeds starting from 10, 25 and up to 100 Gb/s. Most recently, we’ve added RHEL certification for our ConnectX-5 Socket-Direct adapter cards, uniquely designed to enhance network and application performance in multi-socket servers, by connecting each CPU socket directly to the Mellanox NIC.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 is powered by Mellanox ConnectX-5

The Mellanox inbox driver and the Fast Datapath feature in RHEL 8 further enable a broad set of network capabilities:

  • Single-root I/O virtualization, or SR-IOV, allowing virtual machines to directly access the NIC hardware. SR-IOV is a great way to achieve high network throughput while sharing a physical network adapter amongst multiple VMs.
  • VXLAN overlay offload is enabled by default, allowing for offloading the VXLAN packet handling (encapsulation/decapsulation) to the ConnectX NIC compared to use expensive CPU cycles
    to do so.
  • RDMA/RoCE is a transport protocol that allows for direct memory access from one computer into that of another, without involving either’s operating-system and CPU. The Mellanox inbox driver enables RDMA/RoCE communications over Mellanox ConnectX NICs in a RHEL environment, providing accelerated application performance for a range of workloads including NVMe over Fabric storage, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).
  • DPDK is a set of libraries and vendor NIC drivers for fast packet processing in the Linux user space. The Mellanox inbox driver includes the Mellanox’s poll-mode driver and enable DPDK-based acceleration in a RHEL environment. Mellanox ConnectX NICs outperform any other NIC in the industry for DPDK performance.
  • DPDK-accelerated Openvswitch (OVS) enables user-space datapath acceleration for OVS, thus superior performance vs. OVS that utilizes Linux kernel networking.
  • OVS offload, currently in Tech Preview in RHEL 8, is a mode in which OVS datapath is fully offloaded to the NIC hardware, delivering breakthrough performance powered by Mellanox’s ASAP2 advanced switching and packet processing technology embedded in select ConnectX adapter cards.

The Mellanox inbox driver for RHEL is developed with an upstream first mindset and is collaboratively integrated and tested into RHEL by Red Hat and Mellanox product engineering teams. In fact, this is what makes the integration of Red Hat’s open source software and Mellanox ConnectX adapters so easy to deploy and use, with a simplified out-of-box experience and clear escalation paths for customer support issues.

Enabling Hybrid Cloud Solutions

The Red Hat-Mellanox product collaboration efforts don’t stop at RHEL. As many of our mutual customers deploy Red Hat OpenStack Platform and Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, the teams focus on delivering these value-add technologies in an orchestrated, cloud-driven manner. When the flagship Red Hat OpenStack Platform 13 came out in mid-2018, Mellanox was a pioneer vendor that introduced the OVS hardware offload technology together with Red Hat. To date, Red Hat OpenStack Platform is a long-life platform of choice for telecom service providers’ SDN/NFV data-centers as well as enterprises. On the container and Kubernetes fronts,Red Hat OpenShift 4.1, that was made generally available recently, adds supports for Mellanox cloud-ready ConnectX-4 Lx and ConnectX-5, with more advanced networking features in subsequent releases.

Mellanox is a true advocate of open source solutions and a major contributor to the Linux kernel among other open infrastructure projects. We believe this open, upstream-first mindset is what makes our collaboration with Red Hat works best for our mutual customers and the entire IT ecosystem.

Stay tuned as we continue the high-performance networking path in 2019 and beyond!

To learn more about Mellanox’s ConnectX adapter product family, visit



About Itay Ozery

Itay Ozery is Senior Product Manager at Mellanox Technologies, driving strategic product management and product marketing initiatives for Mellanox’s cloud networking solutions. Before joining Mellanox, Itay was Sr. Sales Engineer at NICE Systems Ltd., a Nasdaq listed corporation, where he led large-scale business and project in the fields of cyber security and intelligence. Prior to that, Itay held various positions for more than a decade in IT systems and networking with data centers and telecom service providers, where he acquired extensive experience in IT system and network engineering. Itay holds B.A. in Marketing and Information Systems from the College of Management Academic Studies, Israel.

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