Microsoft provides FPGA-powered community accelerator to Azure

Microsoft has introduced a mysterious cloud {hardware} improve referred to as “Azure Enhance” that it claims will enhance the efficiency of all future occasion varieties in its huge blue cloud.

“Azure Enhance is a system designed by Microsoft that offloads server virtualization processes historically carried out by the hypervisor and host OS onto purpose-built software program and {hardware},” states a submit from final week. “This offloading frees up CPU assets for the visitor digital machines, leading to improved efficiency.”

In different phrases, a SmartNIC/DPU/IPU – commonplace gear for hyperscalers, together with Microsoft, for a number of years now. We requested Microsoft what’s new or totally different about Azure Enhance in comparison with its current accelerators, however the tech large did not reply.

Microsoft’s submit provides that suitable Azure hosts embrace the “Microsoft Azure Community Adapter” (MANA) – a community interface card (NIC) that “contains the most recent {hardware} acceleration options and supplies aggressive efficiency with a constant driver interface” and packs a field-programmable gate array (FPGA).

MANA is customized package developed by Microsoft, and never the Pensando SmartNICs already supplied in Azure or package the software program large acquired from SmartNIC-maker Fungible in early 2023.

Azure Enhance already runs on 17 Azure occasion varieties and will likely be current on all future Azure VMs. Microsoft indicated it might be backported to extra current VM varieties too.

In that case, completely satisfied days – as a result of Microsoft claims that its MANA-and-Azure-Enhance-equipped Ebsv5 occasion sort “supplies 260K IOPS Premium SSD storage efficiency,” whereas the Ev4-series VMs trundle alongside at 80K IOPS.

The Azure Market already contains some machine photographs that embrace the MANA driver on the next working methods:

  • Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
  • Ubuntu 22.04 LTS
  • Purple Hat Enterprise Linux 8.8
  • Purple Hat Enterprise Linux 9.2
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 SP4
  • Debian 12 “Bookworm”
  • Oracle Linux 9.0
  • Home windows Server 2016
  • Home windows Server 2019
  • Home windows Server 2022

Sadly, it is unclear if “Azure Enhance” is definitely new, or only a model Microsoft has cooked up because it debuts MANA. Competing cloud supplier Amazon has branded its SmartNIC efforts “Nitro”, so possibly Microsoft determined its accelerators and supporting software program wanted a model, too.

Azure Enhance’s obscurities are moot, although, as Microsoft claims it might ship knowledge throughput at 12.5GB/sec and allow 650K IOPS, “by accelerated storage processing and exposing NVMe disk interfaces to VMs.”

That velocity, Microsoft argues, may imply some clients can downsize cloudy VMs, or the dimensions of their VM fleet.

Customers will not care what the tech that helps them obtain that known as. ®