E3: Energy-Efficient Microservices on SmartNIC-Accelerated Servers


Ming Liu, University of Washington; Simon Peter, The University of Texas at Austin; Arvind Krishnamurthy, University of Washington; Phitchaya Mangpo Phothilimthana, University of California, Berkeley


We investigate the use of SmartNIC-accelerated servers to execute microservice-based applications in the data center. By offloading suitable microservices to the SmartNIC’s low-power processor, we can improve server energy-efficiency without latency loss. However, as a heterogeneous computing substrate in the data path of the host, SmartNICs bring several challenges to a microservice platform: network traffic routing and load balancing, microservice placement on heterogeneous hardware, and contention on shared SmartNIC resources. We present E3, a microservice execution platform for SmartNIC-accelerated servers. E3 follows the design philosophies of the Azure Service Fabric microservice platform and extends key system components to a SmartNIC to address the above-mentioned challenges. E3 employs three key techniques: ECMP-based load balancing via SmartNICs to the host, network topology-aware microservice placement, and a data-plane orchestrator that can detect SmartNIC overload. Our E3 prototype using Cavium LiquidIO SmartNICs shows that SmartNIC offload can improve cluster energy-efficiency up to 3× and cost efficiency up to 1.9× at up to 4% latency cost for common microservices, including real-time analytics, an IoT hub, and virtual network functions.

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