All posts by Erez Scop

About Erez Scop

Erez is Director of Product Management at Mellanox Technologies, managing storage, Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) and software acceleration product lines. Erez is a member of the dpdk.org governing board that manages the open source project. Before joining Mellanox, Erez was Product Manager at AudioCodes Ltd. where he led their main product lines in the telecom, VoIP and unified communication fields for over 5 years. Erez brings more than 8 years of experience in Product Management backed up by over 10 years in R&D managerial roles. Erez holds a B.Sc. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and an MBA.

Mellanox Releases New IP-Based Video Streaming Library Software: Rivermax 1.5

Rivermax – Streaming Everything

As many of us have adopted a work from home routine due to COVID-19, this new norm is having a profound impact on our professional and personal lives, not only for those with small children at home, but also for those working from home for the first time. But as the “show” must go on, it’s no surprise that this sudden boost in remote working is driving the need for more dynamic IT environments that can pull in resources on demand.

 

Over the past few years at Mellanox, we’ve put focus on the Media & Entertainment (M&E) market, supporting the global industry as it evolves from proprietary SDI to cost-effective Ethernet/IP infrastructure solutions. Mellanox technologies are enabling M&E to take the next transformational step toward cloud computing, while meeting compliance with the most stringent SMPTE ST-2110-21 specification requirements.

 

On our journey to modernize M&E network interconnect, we have introduced Mellanox Rivermax, an optimized, standard-compliant software library API for streaming data. Rivermax software runs on Mellanox ConnectX®-5 or higher network adapters, enabling the use of common off-the-shelf (COTS) servers for streaming SD, HD and up to Ultra HD video flows. The Rivermax-ConnectX®-5 adapter card combination also enables compliance with M&E specifications, such as the SMPTE 2110-21, reduces CPU utilization for video data streaming, and removes bottlenecks for the highest throughput – reaching 82 Gbps of streamed video with a single CPU core.

 

As our partners have rolled out new Rivermax based full-IP solutions rigorously tested in their labs, we’re excited to share the fruits of these collaborative investments in Rivermax 1.5, the latest release of our streaming library, with our customers and the market at large.

 

Rivermax® Release 1.5 includes key features and capabilities enabling performance boosts and quicker integrations. One of these new features, allows Rivermax-accelerated applications to stream not only video/audio/ancillary, but other data stream formats as well, including compressed video, healthcare imaging (DICOM-RTV), cloud gaming, autonomous car sensor streaming (Video/LiDAR/RADAR), and more; enabling Rivermax accelerations and CPU savings in many new markets and applications.

 

Another good piece of news is that Rivermax 1.5 has recently passed the JT-NM Tested Program (March 16 – 20, 2020), allowing for the integration and interoperability with multiple other market vendors.

Rivermax 1.5 Release Contents:

  • Virtualized Rivermax over vmware ESXi and Linux OpenStack. Currently in beta level support.
  • Rivermax API updates:
    • Replaced TX pause API with a flag to commit API
    • Changed structure of in buffer attributes
    • Changed function signature of in query buffer API
  • Added 802.1Q VLAN tagging support
  • Added SDK code examples:
    • Media sender:
      • real video content, interlace, 59.94, 29.97
    • Media receiver:
      • GPU-CUDA support for Color Space Conversion (from YCBCR to RGB)—Display/playback a video stream on screen or through X11 SSH
      • Interlace video formats
      • 2022-7 Rx SW sample code – to get you started quickly on software implementation of 2022-7. Note that 2022-7 will be offloaded to ConnectX-6 Dx hardware with future releases of Rivermax.
  • Generic API (beta version) – For streaming any type of data:Get all the goodies of Rivermax like traffic shaping (accurate packet pacing), high bandwidth for any type of UDP based data stream with low CPU utilization and supporting both Linux and Windows.
  • Introduce Rivermax for Mellanox ConnectX-6 Dx in Beta level support over Linux OS (with feature parity to ConnectX-5)
  • NVIDIA-Jetson platform software image (as presented @ IBC2019)
    • Based on Rivermax 1.5 release
    • Demos running Rivermax on NIVIDA-Jetson platform
    • Includes Sender and Receiver examples
    • GPU is integrated with the Media_receiver for both CSC and on-screen rendering
    • AnalyzeX (SMPTE ST2110-20 verification software) while running Video Viewer

 

Wish to discuss Rivermax with us? reach out to me or your local account/support team.

 

Here’s to seeing you at the next M&E show!

Simplifying Composable Infrastructure with NVMe Hardware Virtualization

 

Today, Mellanox introduced NVMe SNAP technology enabling hardware virtualization of NVMe Flash storage, to achieve all the efficiency and management benefits of remote storage, with the simplicity of local storage.

At the 2009 World Swimming Championships in Rome, controversial new full-body swimsuits came to prominence and gave the top swimmers the edge they needed to break barriers otherwise blocked by physics. An astounding 43 world records were set at the championships, and at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 94% of all swimming wins and 98% of all swimming medals were achieved by swimmers wearing the new suits. Those who didn’t invest in the new technology found it nearly impossible to win. Until their ban in 2009, we saw “swimsuit wars” with manufacturers competing to create better swimsuits and swimmers violating sponsorship agreements to wear the fastest technology rather than their contracted sponsors’ swimsuits.

Much like cloud service providers use the latest cloud storage technology to gain an edge, swimmers set world records at the 2009 World Swimming Championships in Rome with the help of revolutionary swimsuits that made their bodies more hydrodynamic.

Revolutionary swimsuit technology leads to winning Olympic medals

When everyone is fighting to be number one, new technology can provide the needed edge. Cloud hyperscalers and large enterprises continuously pursue the adoption of new server and storage virtualization technologies to maximize their utilization of resources and enable novel use of their ever-growing infrastructure.

 

The Appeal of Bare Metal Cloud

In traditional cloud, the cloud service provider (CSP) delivers VMs or containers with virtualized CPUs, memory, and network storage. It’s easy to deliver the right virtualized resources to the right customer on-demand—aka composable infrastructure—but you don’t know exactly what kind of physical hardware underlies it, nor what (or who) else is running on the same physical servers. Bare-metal cloud offers on-demand provisioning of physical servers to customers instead of VMs. It’s a rapidly growing market and there are three reasons to go bare metal: 1) Control; 2) Performance; and 3) Security.

  • Control: Customers choose exactly which operating system and applications they install, and don’t have to conform applications to the Cloud SP’s processes for OS/VM/hypervisor provisioning.
  • Performance: The server is dedicated to one application so there is no risk of a “noisy neighbor” hurting application performance. There is no hypervisor performance “tax” and the customer knows exactly which workloads are running on each server.
  • Security: The server is not shared, eliminating the risk that competing tenants (like Coke and Pepsi) could end up sharing the same server. Some customers don’t want (or are not allowed) to share servers.

The customer still gets the flexibility to spin up or decommission physical servers quickly and can install whatever software they require, including customized operating systems or hypervisors. As a bonus, there are no worries about CPU-based software licenses, which may charge for every CPU core on the physical server, even those that are being used by other tenants and other applications.

 

Composable Storage Virtualization Breaks Bare Metal Cloud Shackles

A CSP’s bare metal offering will usually include, for the sake of simplicity, local storage for the customer’s use. This provides easily accessed and fast performing storage under the customer’s full control. But this comes at a price for the Cloud SPs, limiting their ability to efficiently provision remote storage that is easy to migrate and protect. Therein lies a conflict when designing bare metal cloud offering between what is best for the customer (local storage) and what is best and most easily composable for the CSP (networked storage).

In 2017, Amazon AWS introduced its “Nitro” technology to resolve this conflict and became the envy of its cloud competitors. Nitro enables AWS to offer a ‘bare metal cloud’ with virtualized NVMe storage that is far more efficient than other cloud providers. The Nitro technology enables near-local flash storage performance with the added flexibility, serviceability, and dynamic elasticity of virtualized networked storage.  To achieve this, Amazon builds specialized NICs that can virtualize remote, networked storage into local storage for the bare-metal server. While some of the bare metal cloud infrastructure is now in fact virtualized, customers don’t need to be aware of this and are able to operate as if they have fully dedicated infrastructure—including storage, while still receiving benefits of virtualization that are otherwise unattainable on bare-metal offerings.

NVMe SNAP makes composable storage simple for bare metal cloud servers by virtualizing networked storage while making that storage appear as local NVMe SSDs.

NVMe Virtualization for Storage Composability

 

Mellanox NVMe SNAP™ Technology

Mellanox is now introducing NVMe SNAP™ (Software-defined Network Accelerated Processing) enabling in-hardware virtualization of NVMe storage addressing these and more use-cases for seamless storage virtualization. Mellanox’s NVMe SNAP framework enables our customers to integrate into any cloud provider or enterprise with any networked storage solution or storage protocol. NVMe SNAP brings virtualized storage to bare-metal clouds and enables the disaggregation of compute and storage to allow fully optimized resource utilization.

Mellanox NVMe SNAP enables hardware virtualization of NVMe storage

 

NVMe SNAP logically presents networked storage as a local NVMe flash drive on the PCIe bus to the host OS, hypervisor, and software. This allows the host OS/Hypervisor to use its standard NVMe-driver, unaware that the storage is being provided not by a local physical SSD but rather by NVMe SNAP connected to remote storage. Furthermore, the NVMe SNAP framework allows customers to implement sophisticated data management logic (mirroring/RAID, compression, encryption etc.) to the data that it transmits over the network and stores remotely.

NVMe SNAP empowers customers with the freedom to implement their own storage solutions on top of the NVMe SNAP framework. The NVMe SNAP framework runs on Mellanox BlueField™ SmartNIC embedded Arm cores together with our embedded hardware acceleration engines. This powerful combination is agile yet completely transparent to host software allowing it to be integrated into almost any storage solution. Just as new-tech swimsuits enabled swimmers to go faster, Mellanox SmartNIC and NVMe SNAP virtualization technology enables cloud infrastructures to run more efficiently.

 

Disaggregate and Scale Out NVMe-oF

The NVMe SNAP hardware-accelerated, software-defined storage virtualization described above, used in a bare-metal cloud, can be re-used for another, no less important goal of optimizing data-center resource utilization (compute, storage, network, etc.).

Data center architecture has a strong influence on overall resource utilization. The traditional fixed architecture which glues fixed ratios of compute, storage, and networking resources together presents a workload resource allocation challenge that is typically addressed by virtualization’s over-provisioning. But in reality, not all workloads are the same, some are compute intensive, while others are storage hungry. Overall this requires that service providers over-provision local storage, leading to under-utilized resources, resulting in an inefficient 40%-50% average storage utilization rate at data-center scale. This in turn translates to higher than necessary capital and operational spending on the half (or more) of purchased storage capacity that is essentially unused. Hyper-converged storage partially addresses storage utilization, but in an ever-growing data-center, adding fixed nodes with compute and storage glued together, does not allow for the elastic scaling of storage independently from compute, or vice versa.

Networked storage technology has been available for quite some time, but typically at the cost of poor latency, low throughput, high CPU consumption or all of the above. With new technologies such as NVMe-over-Fabrics (NVMe-oF) using RoCE (RDMA over Converged Ethernet) these performance issues have been overcome, but only for compute nodes which support the specific high-performance network storage protocols (like NVMe-oF)

Networked storage together with NVMe SNAP virtualization technology enables hyperscalers to remove their physical disks entirely from their compute nodes while connecting each compute node to a storage cluster transparently and seamlessly. This disaggregation of compute and storage enables storage to be part of a composable infrastructure and offers huge savings in acquisition cost, maintenance, and operating overhead, while leveraging the simplicity of this design with no software alterations or performance impact on the infrastructure at all. Compute nodes can now be added independently of storage and vice versa, allocating exactly the right amount of storage for each compute node and optimizing for any workload. The CSP can now offer logical pools of resources that maximize utilization of the entire rack or cluster.

Disaggregate and scale out with Mellanox NVMe SNAP

 

NVMe of Everywhere

The adoption of local server-attached NVMe flash SSDs has become widespread with all major operating systems offering support. NVMe-oF technology extends this to provide remote access to NVMe storage. NVMe-oF is on the rise, with 2019 predicted to be the year of mass deployments. Nonetheless there is still limited support for NVMe-oF by major OS suppliers, such as Microsoft Windows/Hyper-V and VMware ESXi. This chicken and egg problem is slowing the adoption of NVMe-oF in the cloud and especially into enterprise. Mellanox NVMe SNAP storage virtualization technology overcomes this issue with an “OS agnostic” technology that enables applications to use local NVMe drivers to transparently access remote NVMe storage. This enables storage providers to offer enterprises and clouds a solution that is not dependent on the OS providing NVM-oF support or even being aware that remote storage is being accessed, while gaining shorter integration and deployment time.

 

Summary

Mellanox network infrastructure doesn’t just connect servers and storage. It also delivers efficiency – enabling our customers to reach the full potential of their compute and storage infrastructure, while simultaneously offloading CPUs from wasting precious cycles on repetitive tasks. Building state-of-the-art public and private clouds is more competitive than ever, and just like advanced swimsuits, a technology edge can make all the difference.

With the introduction of NVMe SNAP technology Mellanox has evened the game, and provided the means for enterprises and service providers to win the race to easily composable storage, efficient utilization and advanced bare metal cloud features.

For more information on Mellanox’s NVMe SNAP offering, please contact your local Mellanox sales rep or authorized channel partner.

Additional Resources