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PCIe 5.0 and CXL: A Technical Breakdown for Naval Operations

by Christopher Trick, on Apr 4, 2023 3:13:57 PM

PCIe 5.0 and CXL: A Technical Breakdown for Naval Operations

As virtualization and containerization increase in use for modern naval operations, compute architectures must handle the increased speeds and feeds required to move from hardware-based systems to software-based systems. 

In this blog, you will learn more about how PCIe 5.0 and CXL can enhance both virtualization and containerization, how they play a role in enhancing modern naval applications, and how Trenton's solutions can help.

What is PCIe 5.0?

PCIe 5.0 is a high-speed computer bus standard used for connecting peripheral devices, such as graphics cards, solid-state drives, and network cards, to a computer's motherboard. It is the latest version of the PCIe standard and was released in 2021.

Compared to its predecessor, PCIe 4.0, PCIe 5.0 provides faster data transfer rates, with a maximum data transfer rate of 64 gigatransfers per second (GT/s), double that of PCIe 4.0. This improved performance can result in faster load times and improved overall system performance.

PCIe 5.0 also supports improved power management, higher levels of error correction, and improved signal integrity, making it more reliable and efficient than previous versions of the standard.

Additionally, the increased bandwidth of PCIe 5.0 allows for the use of higher-speed components, such as faster NVMe solid-state drives and more powerful graphics cards.

What is CXL?

CXL (Compute Express Link) is an industry-standard interface that provides a shared memory space and high-speed communication between a computer host--oftentimes, a CPU--and accelerator devices such as graphics processing units (GPUs), field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and intelligent memory devices. 

CXL provides a high-bandwidth, low-latency connection between the host and accelerator, allowing the host to access the accelerator's memory and other resources directly.

This enables the host to offload tasks to the accelerator, enabling the host and accelerator device to work as a unified system. This frees up system resources and improves performance.

CXL is designed to be a scalable, flexible, and secure interface, making it suitable for a variety of use cases, including artificial intelligence (AI), high-performance computing (HPC), and data centers.

In some cases, CXL can also be used to facilitate high-speed communication between accelerator devices and virtual machines or containers. (More on that later.)

How do PCIe 5.0 and CXL work together?

At a high level, the combination of PCIe 5.0 and CXL provides a high-speed, low-latency interface for communication between the CPU, accelerator devices, virtual machines, and containers, allowing for improved performance and scalability in computing systems.

In a CXL system, the CPU communicates with the accelerator devices over the CXL interface, which is built on top of the PCIe interface. The faster speed and higher bandwidth of the PCIe 5.0 interface can be leveraged by CXL to provide a higher-performance and more efficient communication channel between the CPU and accelerator devices, or accelerator devices and virtual machines or containers.

Let's take a closer look at how PCIe 5.0 and CXL work together. 

How does PCIe 5.0 enhance CXL?

PCIe 5.0 enhances CXL in several ways:

  1. Increased Speed and Bandwidth: PCIe 5.0 provides increased speed and bandwidth compared to previous versions of the PCIe interface, which can benefit the communication between the CPU and accelerator devices, or accelerator devices and virtual machines or containers over the CXL interface. This can result in lower latency and improved performance. 
  2. Improved Efficiency: PCIe 5.0 provides improved encoding and signaling techniques that result in higher efficiency for data transfers. This can reduce the power consumption of the interface, which can help to extend the battery life of mobile devices and reduce the overall power consumption of data centers and other high-performance computing systems.
  3. Greater Scalability: The increased speed and bandwidth of PCIe 5.0 enables the interface to scale to meet the demands of the most demanding workloads. This can help to ensure that systems can keep pace with the growing demands of emerging applications, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  4. Enhanced Security: PCIe 5.0 provides enhanced security features that help to protect against potential attacks on the interface. These features can help to ensure the privacy and integrity of data as it is transferred between components, which is especially important in security-sensitive applications.

How does CXL enhance PCIe 5.0?

CXL enhances PCIe 5.0 in several ways:

  1. Improved Resource Management: CXL provides a high-level protocol for managing the resources of accelerator devices, such as GPUs and FPGAs. This allows for more efficient allocation and use of resources, which can reduce latency and improve the overall performance of the system.
  2. Enhanced Cache Coherency: CXL provides enhanced cache coherency features that allow the CPU, accelerator devices, virtual machines, and containers to access and share data more efficiently. The caches in the system have the same information and ensure that this information is accurate and up-to-date. 
  3. Enhanced Security: CXL provides enhanced security features that help to protect against potential attacks on the interface. These features can help to ensure the privacy and integrity of data as it is transferred between components, which is especially important in security-sensitive applications.
  4. Increased Interoperability and Scalability: CXL provides a common, standardized interface that can be used by multiple devices from different vendors. This can increase the interoperability of systems and allow for more efficient and effective communication between components. This also makes it easier to scale systems in response to evolving application needs.

These enhancements can help to ensure that systems using CXL can provide fast, efficient, and secure communication between the CPU and other components, and can effectively meet the growing demands of emerging applications.

How does CXL enhance PCIe 5.0?

PCIe 5.0 and CXL work together to provide a high-speed, low-latency interface for communication between the CPU and accelerator devices, with the physical and electrical interface provided by PCIe 5.0 and the high-level protocol for communication provided by CXL. 

Both PCIe 5.0 and CXL enhance two key technologies critical for modern naval operations: virtualization and containerization.

Virtualization is a technology that enables multiple virtual versions of a physical server, called virtual machines, to run on a single physical host machine, each with its own operating system and applications. 

Containerization, on the other hand, is a technique for packaging and deploying applications in isolated containers, which can run on any host machine with the necessary runtime environment.

You can read more about the differences between virtualization and containerization here. 

For now, let's take a closer look at how PCIe 5.0 and CXL each enhance virtualization and containerization for naval applications.

How does PCIe 5.0 enhance virtualization and containerization for naval applications?

Here are four ways how PCIe 5.0 enhances virtualization and containerization for naval applications:

  1. Improved Performance: PCIe 5.0 provides a faster data transfer rate, up to 32 GT/s per lane, allowing for faster communication between virtual machines and containers or between accelerator devices and virtual machines or containers. This means that Navy applications utilizing virtualization and containerization can operate at a higher level of performance, making them more efficient. 
  2. Enhanced Flexibility: PCIe 5.0 supports up to 32 lanes per device, allowing for a greater number of devices to be connected to the system. This enables Navy applications to be more flexible, as it can support a wider range of devices and configurations, including virtualized and containerized environments.
  3. Increased Scalability: With the ability to support multiple lanes per device, PCIe 5.0 can support larger-scale deployments of Navy applications. This means that virtualized and containerized environments can scale up to meet the needs of larger Navy projects and operations.
  4. Improved Security: PCIe 5.0 is equipped with improved security features, including enhanced encryption and authentication mechanisms. These security features help protect Navy applications using virtualization and containerization from cyber threats, ensuring that data is kept secure at all times. 

How does CXL enhance virtualization and containerization for naval applications?

Here are four ways that CXL enhances both virtualization and containerization for naval applications:

  1. Faster Communication: CXL allows for faster communication between virtual machines and containers, as well as between the virtual machines or containers and accelerator devices. This means that naval systems can communicate and transfer data more quickly and efficiently, improving their overall performance.
  2. Greater Memory Access: CXL provides greater access to the memory cache, allowing virtual machines and containers to access memory more quickly and efficiently. This is particularly important in naval applications, where real-time data processing is essential for situational awareness and decision-making.
  3. Improved Scalability: CXL enables better scalability of virtual machines and containers, allowing naval systems to easily add or remove resources as needed to meet changing demands. This means that the Navy can more easily adapt to changing mission requirements and deploy systems more quickly and efficiently.
  4. Enhanced security: CXL provides hardware-level security features that can be used to enhance the security of virtual machines and containers. In the context of naval applications, this is particularly important for protecting sensitive data and ensuring mission-critical systems are not compromised.

Now, let's take a look at some use cases.

Naval Use Cases

Integrated combat system 

An integrated combat system is a comprehensive system that combines various individual systems and subsystems to provide a comprehensive solution for naval operations. It typically includes a range of systems and technologies, such as radar, sonar, communications, navigation, weapons control, and electronic warfare systems.

Here's an example of incorporating PCIe 5.0 and CXL technology into a virtualized and containerized infrastructure of an integrated combat system for the Navy:

  1. A Navy vessel is equipped with multiple sensors that gather vast amounts of data, which is then processed and analyzed by the integrated combat system to identify potential threats.
  2. The data is transferred to the CPU for processing, but the CPU becomes overwhelmed by the large amount of data. To improve performance, accelerator devices are integrated into the system to offload some of the processing tasks from the CPU.
  3. The accelerator devices communicate with the CPU using the CXL interface, and the CPU distributes processing tasks to the accelerator devices as needed. The communication between the CPU and accelerator devices is faster and more efficient due to the high-speed data transfer capabilities of PCIe 5.0.
  4. The integrated combat system also includes virtual machines running different applications, each with their own operating system and resources. Some of these applications require specialized processing capabilities that can be provided by accelerator devices.
  5. The virtual machines use the CXL interface to communicate with the accelerator devices, offloading processing tasks to the accelerator devices as needed. The use of virtual machines enables efficient resource utilization and isolation between applications, improving system security.
  6. The integrated combat system also includes containers running different applications, with each container having its own isolated environment and resources. Some of these containers also require specialized processing capabilities that can be provided by accelerator devices.
  7. The containers use the CXL interface to communicate with the accelerator devices, offloading processing tasks to the accelerator devices as needed. The use of containers provides enhanced security by limiting the potential impact of a security breach.

By incorporating PCIe 5.0 and CXL technology into the virtualized and containerized infrastructure of an integrated combat system for the Navy, the system can be made more efficient, scalable, and secure, enhancing its overall performance and capabilities.

Integrated Combat System - PCIe 5.0 and CXL

By incorporating PCIe 5.0 and CXL technology into the virtualized and containerized infrastructure of an integrated combat system for the Navy, the system can be made more efficient, scalable, and secure, enhancing its overall performance and capabilities.

JADC2

Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) is a military concept aimed at enabling real-time information sharing and collaboration across all domains (air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace), with the goal of providing a common operational picture to commanders to facilitate faster and more informed decision-making in real-time.

Here's an example of incorporating PCIe 5.0 and CXL technology into a virtualized and containerized infrastructure of a JADC2 initiative for the Navy:

  1. In a JADC2 environment, virtual machines and containers are used to run multiple applications that process and analyze sensor data from various domains such as air, land, and sea.
  2. A PCIe 5.0 connection is used to quickly transfer the sensor data from the virtual machines or containers to a high-performance accelerator device, such as a GPU or FPGA, that is optimized for processing and analyzing large amounts of data.
  3. The accelerator device uses CXL to communicate with the virtual machines or containers, enabling the accelerator device to take on tasks such as data processing and AI/ML/DL algorithms. This significantly improves the performance of the system, reducing latency and allowing the Navy to process and analyze the data in near real-time.
  4. The virtual machines or containers also use CXL to access the accelerator device's memory cache, ensuring cache coherency and providing the virtual machines with the latest data. This eliminates the need for multiple copies of the same data and reduces the risk of data inconsistencies.

Incorporating PCIe 5.0 and CXL technology into a virtualized and containerized JADC2 initiative can provide the Navy with a high-performance, secure, and scalable system for the collection, processing, and distribution of data from multiple domains. This can significantly enhance the Navy's ability to make critical decisions and achieve its mission goals.

5G

5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology that promises to provide faster and more reliable connectivity compared to previous generations. It will support new use cases, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and mission-critical applications, by providing low-latency and high-bandwidth capabilities.

Here's an example of incorporating PCIe 5.0 and CXL into a virtualized and containerized 5G infrastructure for the Navy:

  1. A navy vessel is equipped with a 5G infrastructure that is virtualized and containerized.
  2. The 5G infrastructure includes multiple virtual machines (VMs) and containers running different applications, services, and functions, each with its own set of requirements. This will add an extra layer of security.
  3. The virtual machines and containers are running applications that require heavy computational resources to process and analyze large amounts of data in real-time.
  4. In order to improve system performance and reduce the load on the CPU, the virtual machines and containers send tasks to accelerator devices that are connected to the infrastructure via CXL. 
  5. The accelerator device receives the tasks and uses its specialized processing capabilities to quickly and efficiently process the data. PCIe 5.0 increases communication speeds between the virtual machines or containers and accelerator devices. 
  6. The processed data is then stored in the accelerator device's memory cache and is made available to other virtual machines and containers in the infrastructure via the CXL interface.
  7. The other virtual machines and containers can access the processed data directly from the accelerator device's memory cache, reducing the need for data transfer over the PCIe 5.0 interface.

Incorporating PCIe 5.0 and CXL technology into a virtualized and containerized 5G infrastructure for the Navy can enhance the speed and efficiency of data transfer, improve system performance, and enhance security. This can be critical for the Navy's ability to securely and efficiently transfer large amounts of data in a high-stakes environment.

Where does Trenton come into play?

At Trenton, we work with customers in a consultative relationship to provide COTS, SWaP-C-optimized high-performance computers that best fit their application needs, including PCIe 5.0 and CXL.

Powered by Intel® SmartEdge Software, NVIDIA® Multi-Instance A100 GPUs, and Raytheon® cybersecurity technologies, we deliver end-to-end solutions for an enhanced out-of-box experience, maximum scalability, and hardware-based protection of critical workloads at the tactical edge. 

Designed to the most stringent standards, our systems can support the technologies needed for integrated combat systems, JADC2 initiatives, and enhanced 5G connectivity. (Read more here.)

With modularity at the hardware and software level, we can integrate features and/or functions needed for the broader system, application, or weapons program into our hardware, and we can help customers meet their government small business content requirements. 

With a tight grip on our supply chain and multi-layer cybersecurity, we ensure that we incorporate components free of vulnerabilities from hostile nations, and we protect our systems from the most sophisticated of cyberattacks. 

Interested in learning more about our edge computing capabilities for the Navy? Click here to get a closer look. 

Team Trenton is at your service. 😎

Topics:PCIe 5.0Compute Express Link (CXL)virtualizationcontainerization

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