Nvidia unveils a data processing unit named BlueField-2 for use in data centers

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Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference usually places a lot of emphasis on their hallmark GPUs. However, in the company’s latest event, the GPUs were not the only thing in the spotlight. Nvidia said that it has started sampling a DPU (Data Processing Unit.)

The DPU is aimed at data centers. It is offered under the brand name BlueField and will be available to the public for purchase in 2021.

The problem that this chip is addressing is in modern data centers. A significant portion of the available processing power is dedicated to infrastructure admin tasks. The tasks include scanning network traffic for malicious software and arranging storage gear.

BlueField could be in every server in the future

BlueField chips can take over some of this work to make sure that the servers in the data centers perform tasks with higher value and increase the performance overall. The potential benefits, operationally, are quite significant.

According to Nvidia’s estimations, the infrastructure tasks take up as much as 20-30% of the central processing unit cores in a data center.

As Manuvir Das, the head of enterprise computing at Nvidia, says, the DPU belongs in every server made in the future.

Also read: VMware and Nvidia partner to make AI chips easier for enterprise

More BlueField on the way

Inside, the DPU has eight CPU cores based on Arm’s Cortex-A72 architecture. The cores are supported by a pair of what they call acceleration engines, which are specialized circuits optimized for cybersecurity. 

Nvidia is offering a more powerful edition of the DPU that is named BlueField-2X. It adds in GPUs based on the Ampere architecture that powers the flagship Nvidia GPUs.

The plan is to make the DPUs even more powerful in the future. Nvidia is readying a new product version called BlueField-3 and BlueField4. They will not feature separate GPU and CPU circuits like the current model.