Open Network Featured Article

Mellanox Aims to Enable Rapid Prototyping with New OpenNPU SDK

November 08, 2016

Mellanox (News - Alert) Technologies Ltd. now offers a software development kit and is launching a university program in an effort to move open and software-defined networking forward.

The initial focus of the effort is the release of the OpenNPU SDK for the company’s NPS-400. Mellanox Technologies hopes the OpenNPU SDK will lead to rapid prototyping and innovation by academic and research institutions, commercial organizations, and individuals.

The NPS-400 is a network processor unit that does processing at 600 million packets per second. It’s programmable in C in the Linux environment. It can do packet processing at layers 2 through 7. And it can address application recognition, cyber-attack prevention, deep packet inspection, distributed denial of service mitigation, firewall, intrusion protection/detection systems, and router functions.

“Making an open source SDK available for the NPS-400 is a natural evolution of the Mellanox NPU offering,” said Bob Wheeler, principal analyst at The Linley Group. “With its support for GNU-based tools and Linux, the NPS architecture makes programming an NPU easier and more accessible than any prior merchant product.”

Mellanox Technologies also recently announced plans to launch a university partnership program to support the development of open source APIs and a multi-vendor ecosystem to accelerate software-defined networking. The company will provide NPS equipment and technical support to universities participating in the program, for which more details are available at

The news this month from Mellanox Technologies comes just a month after the company announced the availability of a standard Linux kernel driver for its Open Ethernet, Spectrum (News - Alert) switches.

That enables standard Linux operating systems and off-the-shelf Linux-based applications to operate on the switch. Rather than using vendor-specific software development kits, customers can employ the open source Linux driver to control the switch hardware. As a result, data centers can employ the hardware of their choice.

Edited by Maurice Nagle