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AMD has announced that its SmartNICs (Smart Network Interface Cards) will be deployed with Microsoft Azure. These so-called Pensando Data Processing Units are thus behind the recently announced Microsoft Accelerated Connections service, which accelerates networking via Azure.

In a blog, AMD talks about the inner workings of Accelerated Connections. The company states it speeds up network virtual appliances (NVAs) by efficiently driving active connections (flows) and connections per second (CPS). This functionality is needed to support critical workloads such as virtual firewalls, load balancers and network switches.


AMD has divided the hardware behind Accelerated Connections into SDN (Software Defined Network) appliance pairs. The reason for the dual coverage is to prevent the service from being unavailable during maintenance or an outage. The architecture comes from Pensando, which was acquired by AMD last year. Each SDN appliance has six Pensando DPUs, designed for maximum scalability and workload flexibility.

SmartNIC technology is an advanced form of what is found in NIC hardware, as the name suggests. A “regular” NIC is simply an intermediate station in communicating connected equipment, such as datacenter servers and computers. A SmartNIC can take over more complex networking tasks from the CPU, such as encryption or protection against DDoS attacks.

The innovative aspect of this is that users cannot typically address the hardware directly, but this equipment underlies other services. In other words: Accelerated Connections provides low-level access to the hardware, even though it’s in the cloud.


The deal comes at a favourable time for AMD, as it faces a sharp decline (65 percent) in sales from processors intended for client devices. In any case, AMD CEO Lisa Su promises better results for the coming quarters. Zen 4 technology will allow users to leverage PCI 5.0 and DDR5 memory, making many processes much faster.

Also read: AMD grows hard in the data center at the expense of Intel