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Installation and initialization of the BlueField SmartNIC require attention to the mechanical attributes, power specification, and precautions for electronic equipment.

Safety Warnings

Safety warnings are provided here in the English language. For safety warnings in other languages, refer to the SmartNIC Installation Safety Instructions document.

Please observe all safety warnings to avoid injury and prevent damage to system components. Note that not all warnings are relevant to all models.

Note that not all warnings are relevant to all models.

General Installation Instructions
Read all installation instructions before connecting the equipment to the power source.

Jewelry Removal Warning
Before you install or remove equipment that is connected to power lines, remove jewelry such as bracelets, necklaces, rings, watches, and so on. Metal objects heat up when connected to power and ground and can meltdown, causing serious burns and/or welding the metal object to the terminals.

This equipment should not be operated in an area with an ambient temperature exceed­ing the maximum recommended: 55°C (131°F).  An airflow of 200LFM at this maximum ambient temperature is required for HCA cards and NICs. To guarantee proper airflow, allow at least 8cm (3 inches) of clearance around the ventila­tion openings.

During Lightning - Electrical Hazard
During periods of lightning activity, do not work on the equipment or connect or dis­connect cables.

Copper Cable Connecting/Disconnecting
Some copper cables are heavy and not flexible, as such, they should be carefully attached to or detached from the connectors. Refer to the cable manufacturer for spe­cial warnings and instructions.

Equipment Installation
This equipment should be installed, replaced, or serviced only by trained and qualified personnel.

Equipment Disposal
The disposal of this equipment should be in accordance to all national laws and regula­tions.

Local and National Electrical Codes
This equipment should be installed in compliance with local and national electrical codes.

 Hazardous Radiation Exposure

    • Caution – Use of controls or adjustment or performance of procedures other than those specified herein may result in hazardous radiation exposure.For products with optical ports.
    • CLASS 1 LASER PRODUCT and reference to the most recent laser standards:
      IEC 60 825-1:1993 + A1:1997 + A2:2001 and EN 60825-1:1994+A1:1996+ A2:20

Installation Procedure Overview

The installation procedure of BlueField SmartNIC involves the following steps:

StepProcedureDirect Link


Check the system’s hardware and software requirements.

Refer to System Requirements

2Pay attention to the airflow consideration within the host systemRefer to Airflow Requirements


Follow the safety precautions

Refer to Safety Precautions


Unpack the package

Refer to Pre-Installation Checklist

5Follow the pre-installation checklistRefer to Pre-Installation Checklist


(Optional) Replace the full-height mounting bracket with the supplied short bracket

Refer to Bracket Replacement Instructions

7Install the SmartNICRefer to Installation Instructions


Connect cables or modules to the card

Refer to Cables and Modules Installation


Identify the SmartNIC in the system

Refer to Identify the Smartnic in Your System

System Requirements

Hardware Requirements

Unless otherwise specified, NVIDIA products are designed to work in an environmentally controlled data center with low levels of gaseous and dust (particulate) contamination.

The operation environment should meet severity level G1 as per ISA 71.04 for gaseous contamination and ISO 14644-1 class 8 for cleanliness level.

The BlueField SmartNIC should be installed in a high power PCI Express x8 slot as the card consumes up to 55W.

A system with a PCI Express high power slot that supports 75W is required for installing the card. 

Airflow Requirements

BlueField SmartNIC is offered with one airflow pattern: from the heatsink to the network ports, as described in the below figure.

It is prohibited to use port-to-heatsink airflow as it may cause damage to the BlueField SmartNIC.

Please refer to the Specifications section for airflow numbers for each specific card model.

Software Requirements

  • See Operating Systems/Distributions section under the Introduction section.
  • Software Stacks - The SmartNIC is shipped with Linux based Operating System burned on it which includes all needed drivers. For more information, please refer to the BlueField Software User Manual.

Safety Precautions

The SmartNIC being installed in a system that operates with voltages that can be lethal. Before opening the case of the system, observe the following precautions to avoid injury and prevent damage to system components.

  • Remove any metallic objects from your hands and wrists.
  • Make sure to use only insulated tools.
  • Verify that the system is powered off and is unplugged.
  • It is strongly recommended to use an ESD strap or other antistatic devices.

Unpacking the Package

Check against the package contents list that all the parts have been sent. Check the parts for visible damage that may have occurred during shipping. Please note that the cards must be placed on an antistatic surface. 

BlueField 100Gb/s SmartNIC Package Contents 

Cards1BlueField SmartNIC
Cables13 pin UART to USB cable
1USB 2.0 Type A to Mini USB Type B cable
Accessories1Adapter card short bracket
1Adapter card tall bracket (shipped assembled on the card)

BlueField 25Gb/s SmartNIC Package Contents 

Cards1BlueField SmartNIC
Cables1USB 2.0 Type A to Mini USB Type B cable
1USB 2.0 Type A to 30pinFlat Socket
Accessories1Adapter card short bracket
1Adapter card tall bracket (shipped assembled on the card)

Please note that if the card is removed hastily from the antistatic bag, the plastic ziplock may harm the EMI fingers on the networking connector. Carefully remove the card from the antistatic bag to avoid damaging the EMI fingers.

Pre-Installation Checklist

  1. Verify that your system meets the hardware and software requirements stated above.

  2. Shut down your system if active.
    Turn off the power to the system, and disconnect the power cord. Refer to the system documentation for instructions. Before you install the BlueField SmartNIC, make sure that the system is disconnected from power.

  3. (Optional) Check the mounting bracket on the BlueField SmartNIC.
    If required for your system, replace the full-height mounting bracket that is shipped mounted on the card with the supplied low-profile bracket. Refer to Bracket Replacement Instructions.

Bracket Replacement Instructions

The SmartNIC is usually shipped with an assembled high-profile bracket. If this form factor is suitable for your requirements, you can skip the remainder of this section and move to Installation Instructions. If you need to replace the high-profile bracket with the short bracket that is included in the shipping box, please follow the instructions in this section.

Due to risk of damaging the EMI gasket, it is not recommended to replace the bracket more than three times.

To replace the bracket you will need the following parts:

  • The new brackets of the proper height
  • The 2 screws saved from the removal of the bracket

Removing the Existing Bracket

  1. Using a torque driver, remove the two screws holding the bracket in place.

    Be careful not to put stress on SmartNIC LEDs.

  2. Separate the bracket from the SmartNIC. 

  3. Save the two screws.

Installing the New Bracket

  1. Place the bracket onto the card until the screw holes line up. 

    Do not force the bracket onto the SmartNIC.

  2. Screw on the bracket using the screws saved from the bracket removal procedure above.

    Use a torque driver to apply up to 2 lbs-in torque on the screws.

Installation Instructions

This section provides detailed instructions on how to install your SmartNIC in a system.

Please note that the following figures are for illustration purposes only.

  1. Open the system case.
  2. Place the SmartNIC in an available PCI Express slot.

    The BlueField SmartNIC should be installed in a high power PCI Express x8 slot as the card consumes up to 55W.

  3. Applying even pressure at both corners of the card, insert the SmartNIC into the PCI Express slot until firmly seated.

    Do not use excessive force when seating the card, as this may damage the system or the SmartNIC.

  4. When the SmartNIC is properly seated, the port connectors are aligned with the slot opening, and the SmartNIC faceplate is visible against the system chassis.

  5. Secure the SmartNIC with the screw.
  6. Close the system case.

To uninstall the SmartNIC card, see Uninstalling the Card.

Cables and Modules

Cable Installation

  1. All cables can be inserted or removed with the unit powered on.
  2. To insert a cable, press the connector into the port receptacle until the connector is firmly seated.
    1. Support the weight of the cable before connecting the cable to the SmartNIC card. Do this by using a cable holder or tying the cable to the rack.
    2. Determine the correct orientation of the connector to the card before inserting the connector. Do not try and insert the connector upside down. This may damage the SmartNIC card.
    3. Insert the connector into the SmartNIC card. Be careful to insert the connector straight into the cage. Do not apply any torque, up or down, to the connector cage in the SmartNIC card.
    4. Make sure that the connector locks in place.

      When installing cables make sure that the latches engage.

      Always install and remove cables by pushing or pulling the cable and connector in a straight line with the card.

  3. After inserting a cable into a port, the Green LED indicator will light when the physical connection is established (that is, when the unit is powered on and a cable is plugged into the port with the other end of the connector plugged into a functioning port). See LED Interface under the Interfaces section.
  4. After plugging in a cable, lock the connector using the latching mechanism particular to the cable vendor. When data is being transferred the Green LED will blink. See LED Interface under the Interfaces section. 
  5. Care should be taken as not to impede the air exhaust flow through the ventilation holes. Use cable lengths which allow for routing horizontally around to the side of the chassis before bending upward or downward in the rack.

  6. To remove a cable, disengage the locks and slowly pull the connector away from the port receptacle. LED indicator will turn off when the cable is unseated.

Identify the SmartNIC in your System

Network Adapter Environment

On Windows

  1. Open Device Manager on the server. Click Start => Run, and then enter “devmgmt.msc”.
  2. Expand System Devices and locate your NVIDIA SmartNIC.
  3. Right click the mouse on your SmartNIC’s row and select Properties to display the SmartNIC properties window.
  4. Click the Details tab and select Hardware Ids (Windows 2012/R2/2016) from the Properties pull-down menu.
  5. In the Value display box, check the fields VEN and DEV (fields are separated by ‘&’). In the display example above, notice the sub-string “PCI\VEN_15B3&DEV_A2D2/A2D3”: VEN is equal to 0x15B3 - this is the Vendor ID of NVIDIA Technologies; and DEV is equal to A2D2 or A2D3- this is a valid NVIDIA Technologies PCI Device ID.

If the PCI device does not have a NVIDIA SmartNIC ID, return to Step 2 to check another device

On Linux

Get the device location on the PCI bus by running lspci and locating lines with the string
“Mellanox Technologies”:

lspci |grep -i Mellanox
Network controller: Mellanox Technologies MT416842 (BlueField)

Uninstalling the SmartNIC

Safety Precautions

The SmartNIC is installed in a system that operates with voltages that can be lethal. Before uninstalling the SmartNIC, please observe the following precautions to avoid injury and prevent damage to system components.

  1. Remove any metallic objects from your hands and wrists.
  2. It is strongly recommended to use an ESD strap or other antistatic devices.
  3. Turn off the system and disconnect the power cord from the server.

Card Removal

Please note that the following images are for illustration purposes only.

Please note that the following images are for illustration purposes only.

  1. Verify that the system is powered off and unplugged.
  2. Wait 30 seconds.
  3. To remove the card, disengage the retention mechanism on the bracket (screws).
  4. Holding the SmartNIC from its center, gently pull the SmartNIC out of the PCI Express slot.

  5. When the port connectors reach the top of the chassis window, gently pull the SmartNIC in parallel to the motherboard.