Any Alternatives to FPGAs for SmartNICs?

In our last blog post, we discussed how FPGAs are used in all Accolade products. Customer’s sometimes ask if there are alternatives to using an FPGA. The answer is yes, however FPGAs are the most cost effective and flexible option.

If you don’t want to use an FPGA there are essentially two other viable options: 1) ASIC and 2) Network Processor (NPU). An ASIC has many attractive qualities but lack of programmability, high cost at low volume and long development cycle make it very unattractive for packet processing and application offload functionality. Both FPGAs and NPU are programmable so they work well in an environment where requirements can change and there is some need for customization, as is the case with security and network monitoring. FPGAs however have some very distinct advantages over NPUs, chief among them that new silicon technologies (e.g. 25G SerDes, DDR4 DRAM support) are available on FPGAs first. This is mostly because the FPGA market is larger (FPGAs are used across industries as diverse as defense, broadcasting and medical) and therefore more stable and profitable. This leads to greater investment, innovation, and better pricing. On the technical side, FPGAs use less power and have more deterministic latency and performance which are distinct advantages for packet processing and application offload.

To better understand how Accolade products can help you succeed or to test drive one please contact us at

Host CPU Offload Product Features Summary
wdt_ID Speed 1G 10G 10G 10G 10G/40G 10G/40G 100G 100G 100G 100G
1 Model ANIC-4Ku ANIC-20Ku ANIC-40Ku ANIC-40Kq ANIC-80Ku ATLAS-1000
ANIC-100Kq ANIC-200Ku ANIC-200K
2 Port/Type 4 X 1G SFP 2 X 10GSFP+ 4 X 10GSFP+ 1 X 40G4
2 X
40G8 X
2 X
1 X
2 X
2 X
40G2 X
2 X
3 PCIe Interface Gen3 x8 Gen3 x8 Gen3 x8 Gen3 x8 Gen3 x8 Gen3 x8 Gen3 x16 Gen3 x16 Gen3 x16 Gen3 x16
4 Dimensions
(H x L inches)
4.25 x 6.5   4.25 x 6.25 4.25 x 6.25 4.25 x 6.25 4.25 x 6.25 1.75 x12.28x14 4.25 x 10.5 4.25 x 10.5 4.25 x 6.5 4.25 x 10.5
5 Memory 32MB 4G 4G 4G 4G 16/32G 12G 12G 8G 12G
6 Timestamp 5.7 nS 5.7 nS 5.7 nS 5.7 nS 5.7 nS 5.7 nS 4 nS 4 nS 4 nS 4 nS
7 100% Packet
8 Gigamon, Arista
9 Packet Merging
10 Packet Parsing

About Accolade

Accolade is the technology leader in FPGA-based Host CPU Offload and 100% Packet Capture PCIe NIC’s and Scalable 1U Platforms. Accolade’s line of 1-100GE products enable 100% packet capture, flow classification, flow shunting, deduplication, packet filtering and more. Our customers are global leaders in network monitoring & cybersecurity applications as well as in the network test and measurement, telecom and video stream monitoring markets.

FPGA Acceleration Features

100% Packet Capture | Flow Classification | Flow Shunting | Precise Time Stamping | Packet Merging | Packet Slicing | Packet Parsing | Packet Filtering | Deduplication | Host Packet Buffer | Packet Steering | Direct Memory Access (DMA) | Statistics (RMON1)

Free Product Evaluation

Resolve all your host CPU offload bottlenecks. Share Your Technical Requirements with our FPGA and software experts to tailor the optimal solution. Accolade offers a 60 day free product evaluation for qualified customers to fully test and evaluate our products.