Chapter 8. NIC Evolution

Previous chapters presented the importance of domain-specific hardware in a distributed services platform. One of the places where this domain-specific hardware can be located on is the network interface card ( NIC).

Historically the NIC was designed to satisfy the server’s need to communicate over one or more Ethernet networks effectively. In its purest form, a NIC is a device receiving packets arriving from the network and sending them on the server bus and vice versa.

This chapter discusses the NIC evolution from a primitive packet-passing widget of the 1990s to today’s SmartNIC—a sophisticated device capable of hosting domain-specific hardware either in the form of an additional ASIC or on the NIC ASIC itself.

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