Hardware Installation and PCIe Bifurcation

NVIDIA BlueField-3 DPU Controller User Manual

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


Safety warnings are provided here in the English language.

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

The installation procedure of DPU involves the following steps:



Direct Link


Check the system’s requirements.

Refer to System Requirements


Pay attention to the airflow consideration within the host system

Refer to Airflow Requirements


Follow the safety precautions

Refer to Safety


Unpack the package

Refer to Unpacking


Follow the pre-installation checklist

Refer to Pre-Installation Checklist


Install the DPU according to the form-factor you have purchased.

Refer to DPU Installation


Connect cables or modules to the DPU

Refer to Cables and Modules


Power-up the DPU

Refer to DPU Power-Up Instructions

Hardware Requirements


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

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

The below table lists the motherboard and power supply requirements per DPU series.

Power Supply Requirement

R equire a supplementary 8-pin ATX power supply connectivity available through the external power supply connector .

Airflow Requirements

The DPU Controller is offered with one airflow direction: from the heatsink to the network ports.


Any use of the product in the opposite airflow direction (from network ports to heatsink) must be validated thermally to ensure proper cooling of the product.

Please refer to the Specifications section for airflow numbers per DPU model.

Software Requirements

  • Refer to System Requirements section under the Introduction section.

  • Software Stacks -BlueField-3 DPU Controller is shipped with Ubuntu – a Linux commercial operating system – which includes the NVIDIA OFED stack (MLNX_OFED), and is capable of running all customer-based Linux applications seamlessly. For more information, please refer to the DOCA SDK documentation or NVIDIA BlueField DPU BSP.

The DPU Controller is 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.

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 DPU Controllers must be placed on an antistatic surface.


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

For package contents, please refer to Package Contents.

  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 DPU, make sure that the system is disconnected from power.

This section provides detailed instructions on how to install your DPU Controller in a system. Choose the installation instructions according to the configuration you would like to use.

Networking 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 DPU Controller. Do this by using a cable holder or tying the cable to the rack.

    2. Determine the correct orientation of the connector to the DPU Controller before inserting the connector. Do not try and insert the connector upside down. This may damage the DPU Controller.

    3. Insert the connector into the DPU Controller . Be careful to insert the connector straight into the cage. Do not apply any torque, up or down, to the connector cage in the DPU Controller.

    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 DPU.

  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 Networking Ports LEDs interface under the Supported 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.

  5. Make sure not to impede the air exhaust flow through the ventilation holes. Use cable lengths that 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.

8-pin ATX Power Supply Cable


The 8-pin ATX power supply cable is mandatory when powering-up the following DPUs. Without a connection to the power supply cable, the DPU will not complete the power on procedure and will not function properly.

The BlueField-3 DPU Controller includes an 8-pin PCIe ATX power connector that provides additional power supply. While the PCIe slot feeds 66W, the 8-pin PCIe ATX power supply cable provides additional power.

Important Notes and Warnings

  • The BlueField-3 DPU Controller requires a standard PCIe ATX power connection. However, certain servers may require a custom setup to enable ATX power compatibility.

  • Consult the manufacturer's manuals and specifications to ensure proper connectivity.

  • Before connecting the ATX power cable, make sure you are using a PCIe-compliant 8-pin ATX cable from the server power supply kit.

  • Do not link the CPU power cable to the BlueField-3 DPU Controller PCIe ATX power connector, as their pin configurations differ. Using the CPU power cable in this manner is strictly prohibited and can potentially damage the BlueField-3 DPU Controller. Please refer to External PCIe Power Supply Connector Pins for the external PCIe power supply pins.

  • Avoid using non-standard cables that do not comply with the DPU Controller, unnecessary adapter cables, or storing the cables near heat sources.

  • It is preferable that the x16 PCIe golden fingers and the PCI ATX power supply draw from the same power source. For more information on how to power up the card, refer to DPU Controller Power-Up Instructions.

  • The PCIe ATX 8-pin connector is not compatible with an EPS12V power cable source. Ensure that the appropriate PCIe auxiliary power source is available, not an EPS12V power source.

  • If you are uncertain about your server's compatibility with the PCI ATX connection, please contact your NVIDIA representative for assistance.

Cable Installation Instructions

  • Ensure both the system and card are completely powered off for at least 20 seconds before inserting the power connector.

  • DO NOT force the connector into place; the connectors are “keyed” to fit only one way. Refer to the mechanical keys below for further information.

  • Connect the power supply end of the 8-pin connector to the appropriate receptor on the power supply unit.

  • Apply parallel force when plugging the cable into the power supply connector. Do not bend or twist the cables when plugging or unplugging it.

  • Ensure the cable is fully and securely connected to your DPU Controller and the connector lock is secured.

Mechanical Keys of the 8-pin ATX Power Cable (PCIe CEM Specification Rev 5.0)


Power-Up Sequence

  1. The 12V_ATX voltage can exceed the 12V_PCIE voltage by a maximum allowable voltage difference (dV) when the 12V_ATX reaches 11V. See below graph and table describing the dV between the 12V_ATX and 12V_PCIE voltages.


  2. The 12V_ATX can be powered up after the 12V_PCIE, with a maximum delay of 2 seconds. The below graph illustrates the delay between the 12V_ATX and 12V_PCIE voltages at power-up.


Power-Down Sequence

  1. The 12V_PCIE voltage can be powered down simultaneously with the 12V_ATX voltage, or within a maximum delay of 200usec. The below graph illustrates the delay between the 12V_ATX and 12V_PCIE voltages at power-down.


  2. The 12V_PCIE voltage must not be powered down while the 12V_ATX voltage is powered up.

© Copyright 2024, NVIDIA. Last updated on May 19, 2024.