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It is recommended to upgrade your BlueField product to the latest software and firmware versions available in order to enjoy the latest features and bug fixes.

Mellanox® provides software which enables users to fully utilize the BlueField® SoC and enjoy the rich feature-set it provides. Using the BlueField software packages, users are able to:

  • Quickly and easily boot an initial Linux image on your development board
  • Port existing applications to and develop new applications for BlueField
  • Patch, configure, rebuild, update or otherwise customize your image
  • Debug, profile, and tune their development system using open source development tools taking advantage of the diverse and vibrant Arm ecosystem

The BlueField family of SoC devices combines an array of 64-bit Armv8 A72 cores coupled with the ConnectX® interconnect. Standard Linux distributions run on the Arm cores allowing common open source development tools to be used. Developers should find the programming environment familiar and intuitive which in turn allows them to quickly and efficiently design, implement and verify their control-plane and data-plane applications.

BlueField SW ships with the Mellanox BlueField Reference Platform. Bluefield SW is a reference Linux distribution based on the Yocto Poky distribution and extended to include the Mellanox OFED stack for Arm and a Linux kernel which supports NVMe-oF. This SW distribution is capable of running all customer-based Linux applications seamlessly. Yocto also provides an SDK which contains an extremely flexible cross-build environment allowing software targeted for the BlueField SoC to build on virtually any x86 server running any Linux distribution.

The following are other software elements delivered with BlueField SoC:

  • Arm Trusted Firmware (ATF) for BlueField
  • UEFI for BlueField
  • OpenBMC for BMC (ASPEED 2500) found on development board
  • Hardware Diagnostics
  • Mellanox OFED stack
  • Mellanox MFT

Debug Tools

BlueField SoC includes hardware support for the Arm DS5 suite as well as CoreSight™ debug. As such, a wide range of commercial off-the-shelf Arm debug tools should work seamlessly with BlueField. The CoreSight debugger interface can be accessed via RShim interface (USB or PCIe in case of SmartNIC) as well which could be used for debugging with open source tools like OpenOCD.

The BlueField SoC also supports the ubiquitous GDB.

BlueField Adapter/SmartNIC

The BlueField SmartNIC is shipped with the BlueField Software Distribution (BSD) pre-installed. The BlueField adapter Arm execution environment has the capability of being fully isolated from the x86 host and uses a dedicated network management interface (separate from the x86 host's management interface). The Arm cores can run the Open vSwitch Database (OVSDB) or other virtual switches to create a secure solution for bare metal provisioning.

The software package also includes support for DPDK as well as applications for encryption.

BlueField-based Storage Appliance

Mellanox® BlueField Software provides the foundation for building a JBOF (Just a Bunch of Flash) storage system including NVMe-oF target software, PCIe switch support, NVDIMM-N support, and NVMe disk hot-swap support.

BlueField SW allows enabling Mellanox ConnectX® offload such as RDMA/RoCE, T10 DIF signature offload, erasure coding offload, iSER, Storage Spaces Direct, and more.

BlueField Architecture

The BlueField architecture is a combination of two preexisting standard off-the-shelf components, Arm AArch64 processors, and Mellanox ConnectX-5 network controller, each with its own rich software ecosystem. As such, almost any of the programmer-visible software interfaces in BlueField come from existing standard interfaces for the respective components.

The Arm related interfaces (including those related to the boot process, PCIe connectivity, and cryptographic operation acceleration) are standard Linux on Arm interfaces. These interfaces are enabled by drivers and low level code provided by Mellanox as part of the BlueField software delivered and upstreamed to respective open source projects, such as Linux.

The ConnectX-5 network controller-related interfaces (including those for Ethernet and InfiniBand connectivity, RDMA and RoCE, and storage and network operation acceleration) are identical to the interfaces that support ConnectX-5 standalone network controller cards. These interfaces take advantage of the Mellanox OFED software stack and InfiniBand verbs-based interfaces to support software.