FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) acceleration cards are not new, as they’ve been commercially available since 1984. Typically, the emphasis around FPGAs has centered on the fact that they’re programmable accelerators, and that they can truly offer workload specific hardware acceleration solutions without requiring custom silicon.
Traditionally, FPGA programming has often required expertise with a hardware description language (HDL) unfamiliar to most programmers and developers. This has been a challenge to wider usage of FPGAs, but Intel has significantly simplified this challenge now with the Intel® Acceleration Stack(IAS) for Intel® Xeon® CPU with FPGAs, a robust collection of software, firmware, and tools designed and distributed by Intel to simplify development and deployment of Intel FPGAs for workload optimization within the data center.
Figure 1. Acceleration Software Stack for Intel Xeon CPU with FPGAs
Programmable FPGAs a welcome card for ISVs, leaving you free to focus on core expertise
Instead of building your own solution with an FPGA, you always have the option to buy a solution. Users want to solve problems faster. They don’t necessarily want to be programmers, even if they have could develop the expertise. After all, developing an application is only the first step, which may include requirements gathering and project management, as well as QA efforts. Then the application will need support and updates or upgrades over time. Instead of trying to solve business problems, you would spend an inordinate amount of time as a software application developer.
Because FPGAs are programmable, another avenue is available. Third-party Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) can readily offer solutions which capture both the subject-matter and programming expertise needed to solve problems.
In essence, an FPGA accelerator card is an app-enabled platform, just like your PC. Users don’t have to be a programmer, manage a development project, or worry about QA and updates. Instead, users can focus on their area of expertise instead of becoming an application developer.
Why choose the Intel partner ecosystem for FPGA programmable accelerator cards?
Intel is developing a partner ecosystem for its FPGA programmable accelerator cards to provide workload-specific solutions that shorten time to value for customers. For instance, Swarm64 provides a PostgreSQL accelerator for improved analytics performance. Or if you want to use the Apache Cassandra NoSQL database for AI and Big Data, but your legacy infrastructure doesn’t provide the bandwidth, rENIAC provides low latency and high throughput for large volume workloads with no software changes.
And if cybersecurity and networking monitoring is affecting application performance, Napatech offers an Intel FPGA-based solution that offloads network and security workloads from server CPUs.
These are just a few of the solutions within the Intel FPGA ecosystem that leverage the platform capabilities of the Intel FPGA programmable accelerator cards. Intel FPGAs offer a simple answer to the big question: Build or Buy? The answer is Yes! With FPGAs, you have a choice to do either one.
In combination with the HPE ProLiant Gen 10 server family, users gain a secure, manageable, and agile server platform which eliminates the need to become software developers—and instead enables them to focus on business issues to accelerate time-to-value and increase ROI.
HPE will be the first OEM manufacturer to offer the full line of Intel FPGA programmable acceleration cards.
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