Offload and programmable models drive Ethernet adapter revenue surge: Analyst

Oct. 29, 2020
Omdia forecasts data center (DC) Ethernet adapter equipment revenue to grow 28 percent in 2020 with growth accelerating through 2024.

The total Ethernet adapter market hit $585 million in Q2 2020, according to Omdia's latest Ethernet Network Adapter Equipment Market Tracker report. During the reporting period, according to the analyst:  

"For the first time, the majority of ports shipped was comprised of Ethernet adapters capable of on-card processing of protocols (Offload NICs) deployed by enterprises, cloud service providers (CSPs) and communication service providers (Comm SPs). The persistent demand for cloud services from consumers as well as enterprise prompted CSPs to continue investing in servers and Ethernet adapters." 

Manoj Sukumaran, senior analyst for data center compute at Omdia, commented: "Vendors catering to the Comm SPs and enterprise markets saw an uptick in programmable NIC revenue. Enterprise customers in banking, financial services, and trading deployed programmable adapters to handle increased network traffic by offloading compliance, forensics, and cybersecurity functions to these adapters." 

The analyst notes that fast-growing AI and analytics workloads require a large volume of data to move through the network, driving a need for increased server bandwidth.

In response to this demand, Omdia found that in the second quarter of 2020, shipment of 100GE ports grew by 80% QoQ with a strong uptick across all market segments before crossing the 250,000 mark. Additionally, the research showed that 25GE ports accounted for over one-third of all ports shipped in 2Q20, surpassing both 10GE and 1GE. Meanwhile, during the quarter, the share of 1GE ports fell below 25% for the first time in the second quarter of 2020, according to the new report. 

Omdia forecasts data center (DC) Ethernet adapter equipment revenue to grow 28 percent in 2020, with growth accelerating through 2024, driven by server shipments and the adoption of higher speed offload and programmable adapters. This market is poised to hit $4.5 billion by 2024, says the analyst. 

Further, Omdia forecasts that Ethernet adapters that have an onboard field programmable processor such as a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) or system on chip (SoC) will account for over half of the total market revenue in 2024, or $2.3 billion.

The firm predicts that offload adapters that can provide complete on-card processing of network, storage or memory protocols, data-plane offload or that can offload server memory access will account for about 43 percent of 2024 adapter revenue, totaling about $2 billion. Meanwhile, adapters that only provide Ethernet connectivity are forecast to make up a minority share of the market, at just $232 million in 2024.   

Additional Ethernet adapter market highlights for the second quarter of 2020, according to the new report, include: 

  • NVIDIA (Mellanox) was number one in revenue share with 23.3%, Intel was second with 21.7%, and Microsoft moved up to the third spot with 13.1% as they accelerated the deployment of Catapult programmable NICs based on Intel Arria 10 FPGA. 
  • Offload NIC port shipments crossed 50% of all ports shipped, for the first time in second quarter of 2020.
  • Open compute NIC revenue grew by 16% compared to first quarter.

Learn more about the report.

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