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NVIDIA and Dell announced Tuesday from VMware Explorer new Dell PowerEdge servers optimized to run the VMware vSphere 8 enterprise workload platform  and NVIDIA AI Enterprise software on NVIDIA’s BlueField data processing units and GPUs. The new units will be available by the end of 2022.

NVIDIA AI Enterprise is used to run AI and analytics workloads on-premises or in the cloud.

What to expect from VMware vSphere 8

VMware vSphere 8 is not available today. vSphere 7 is the current version. vSphere 8 is expected to be available in October, VMware said.

“VMware vSphere 8 offloads, accelerates, isolates and better secures data center infrastructure services onto the NVIDIA BlueField DPU, and frees the computing resources to process the intelligence factories of the world’s enterprises,” said Manuvir Das, head of Enterprise Computing at NVIDIA, in a press release.

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What is a DPU?

According to NVIDIA, a DPU is a system on chip that combines three main elements: a programmable, multi-core CPU, a high-performance network interface and a set of flexible and programmable acceleration engines designed to improve applications performance. By offloading data processing to the DPU users can save CPU cycles while preserving performance of distributed workloads. They are often incorporated into SmartNIC cards.

“Distributed modern applications with AI/ML and analytics are driving the transformation of data center architecture by leveraging accelerators and providing better security as part of the mainstream application infrastructure,” said Krish Prasad, senior vice president and general manager of the Cloud Platform Business Unit at VMware, in a press release.

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PowerEdge DPU features

PowerEdge DPU acceleration for VMware NSX, VMware’s network virtualization and security platform, will make implementing the zero trust security architecture easier by offloading vSphere networking and firewall functions to the DPU, said Kevin Deierling, senior vice president of Networking at NVIDIA. This capability allows every server to run its own on-board firewall as well as implement network access controls.

“Running the ESXi hypervisor and VMware networking on BlueField creates an important functional isolation that helps protect the network and other servers if the server OS or one of the VMs is compromised,” he said. “The DPU also accelerates data encryption, network telemetry, key authentication and application fingerprinting.”

All of these features will run on BlueField DPUs in future releases of VMware vSphere, he said.

As NVIDIA-Certified Systems, the Dell PowerEdge servers will be able to run the NVIDIA and VMware AI-Ready Enterprise Platform featuring the NVIDIA AI Enterprise software suite and VMware vSphere, NVIDIA said. The upcoming release of NVIDIA AI Enterprise will support larger multi-GPU workloads, optimize resources and easily manage the GPU lifecycle. The release date for AI Enterprise has not been set, NVIDIA said.

AI practitioners can check out the new servers and software at NVIDIA’s LaunchPad, a free, hands-on lab developers of all skill levels can use to build AI apps.