Napatech SmartNIC Network Interface Card NT40E3

The PCI-SIG® certified NT40E3-4-PTP SmartNIC provides full packet capture and analysis of Ethernet LAN at 40 Gbps with zero packet loss for all frame sizes. Intelligent features accelerate application performance with extremely low CPU load.

Flexible time synchronization support is included with a dedicated PPS/PTP port.1G/10G port speed automatically selected by the transceiver modules used.



For any link speed at any time


From 1-100G



Out of the box solution


Multiple FPGA SmartNICs in one server


Synchronize multiple servers



Accelerate your application


Full throughput with zero packet loss



Multiple speeds in one server



More powerful server usage

Key Napatech SmartNIC Functions


Line speed

Napatech’s network cards are highly optimized to capture network traffic even at full line speed, with very low CPU usage on the host server. Lossless packet capturing is critical for applications that need to analyze all network traffic. If anything needs to be discarded, the application makes this decision, so ultimately this should not be a limitation of the network cards.

Standard built-in network interface cards (NICs) are not designed for analysis applications that analyze the entire traffic of a connection or link. Normal NICs are designed from their mode of operation to be used for one communication only, where network data not addressed to the sender or recipient is simply discarded. This shows that NICs are not capable of handling amounts of data that continuously occur in bursts on Ethernet links. In these situations the full bandwidth of a connection is used, which in turn requires the ability to analyze all Ethernet frames. Napatech’s network cards have been designed specifically for this task and offer maximum capacity for uncompromising recording of network data.


Packet buffering

Napatech’s network cards have built-in memory for buffering Ethernet frames. Buffering ensures guaranteed delivery of data even if there is an overload when the data is sent to the application. There are three potential sources of congestion: the PCI interface, the server platform and the analytics application.

PCI interfaces provide a fixed bandwidth for transferring data from the accelerator to the application. This limits the amount of data that can be continuously transferred from the network to the application. For example, a 16-track PCIe Gen3 interface can transfer up to 115 Gbps of data to the application. However, if the network speed is 2 × 100 Gbps, a burst of data cannot be transmitted in real time over the PCIe Gen3 interface because the transfer rate exceeds twice the maximum PCIe bandwidth. In this case, the integrated packet buffering of the Napatech card can absorb the burst and ensure that no data is lost, and releases the frames again when the application provides capacity.

Servers and applications can be configured to overload the infrastructure of the servers or even the application itself. Likewise, CPU cores may be busy processing or retrieving data from remote caches and locations, resulting in new Ethernet frames not being able to be transferred properly by standard network cards.

In addition, the application can be configured with only one or a few processing threads, which can cause the application to become overloaded so that new Ethernet frames are not transmitted. Integrated packet buffering allows Ethernet frames to be buffered until the server or application is able to receive them. This ensures that no Ethernet frames are lost and that all network data is made available for analysis without compromise.


Multi-CPU Distribution

Modern servers offer unprecedented computing power through multi-core CPU implementations. This makes standard servers an ideal platform for device development. To fully utilize the processing power of modern servers, it is important that the analysis application also supports multi-threading and that the right Ethernet frames are made available to the right CPU core for processing. However, the frames must also be provided at the right time to ensure that the analysis can be performed in real time.

The Napatech multi-CPU distribution is built and optimized from our extensive knowledge of server architecture and the actual experience of our customers.

Napatech’s network cards ensure that identified data streams from related Ethernet frames are optimally distributed to the available CPU cores. This ensures that the processing load is balanced over the available processing resources and that the right frames are processed by the right CPU cores.

With flow distribution across multiple CPU cores, the throughput of the analysis application can be increased linearly with the number of cores (up to 128). Furthermore, the performance can also be scaled by faster processor cores. This highly flexible mechanism allows many different ways to design a solution and provides the opportunity to optimize cost and/or performance.

Napatech’s cards support different distribution types which are fully configurable:

  • Distribution by ports: All frames captured on a physical port are transferred to the same CPU or a number of CPU cores for processing
  • Distribution by traffic type: Frames of the same protocol type are transferred to the same CPU or a number of CPU cores for processing
  • Distribution by flows: Frames with the same hash value are sent to the same CPU or a number of CPU cores for processing
  • Combinations of the above

Time stamps

The ability to determine the exact time of frame capture is critical for many applications.

To achieve this, all Napatech SmartNICs are able to provide a highly precise time stamp with a resolution of 1 nanosecond for each frame captured and transmitted.

At 10 Gbit/s, an Ethernet frame can be received and transmitted every 67 nanoseconds. At 100 Gbps this time is reduced to 6.7 nanoseconds. This makes time stamping with nanosecond precision essential for uniquely identifying the reception of a frame. This incredible precision also allows you to sequence frames from multiple ports on multiple accelerators and merge them into a single, timed analysis stream.

To work seamlessly across the various supported operating systems, Napatech SmartNICs support a range of industry-standard timestamp formats and also offer a choice of resolutions suitable for different types of applications.

64-bit timestamp formats:

  • 2 Windows formats with 10-ns or 100-ns resolution
  • Native UNIX format with 10-ns resolution
  • 2 PCAP formats with 1-ns or 1000-ns resolution

Cache optimization

Napatech SmartNICs use a buffering strategy that allocates a number of large memory buffers in which as many packets as possible are placed back-to-back in each buffer. In this implementation, only the first access to a packet in the buffer is affected by the access time to external memory. Thanks to cache prefetching, subsequent packets are already in the level 1 cache before the CPU needs them. Since hundreds or even thousands of packets can be placed in a buffer, very high CPU cache performance can be achieved, resulting in application acceleration.

Buffer configuration can dramatically impact the performance of analytical applications. Different applications have different latency or processing requirements. It is therefore extremely important that the number and size of buffers can be optimized for the specific application. Napatech SmartNICs make this possible.

The flexible server buffer structure supported by Napatech SmartNICs can be optimized for different application requirements. For example, for applications that require a short latency, frames can be delivered in small pieces, optionally with a fixed maximum latency. Applications without latency requirements can benefit from data delivered in large chunks, enabling more effective server CPU processing by the data. Applications that need to correlate information distributed over packets can configure larger server buffers (up to 128 GB).

Up to 128 buffers can be configured and combined with the Napatech multi-CPU distribution (see “Multi-CPU Distribution”).


Multi Port Package Sequencing

Napatech SmartNICs usually offer multiple connections. The ports are usually paired, with one port receiving upstream packets and another port receiving downstream packets. Since these two streams, which go in different directions, must be analyzed as a single stream, packets from both ports must be merged into a single analysis stream. Napatech SmartNICs can sequence and merge packets received on multiple ports in hardware using the exact timestamps of each Ethernet frame. This is extremely efficient and relieves the analysis application of a significant and costly task.

There is a growing need for analysis devices that are capable of monitoring and analyzing multiple points on the network and even provide a network-wide view of what is happening. This not only requires the installation of multiple SmartNICs in a single appliance, but also requires that the analysis data from all ports on each accelerator be correlated.

With the Napatech software suite it is possible to sequence the analysis data from multiple SmartNICs and merge them into a single analysis stream. The merging is based on the nanosecond accurate time stamps of each Ethernet frame, which allows a time ordered merging of the individual data streams.



In mobile networks, all Internet traffic of the subscribers is transmitted in GTP (GPRS Tunneling Protocol) or IP-in-IP tunnels between the nodes in the mobile core. IP-in-IP tunnels are also used in corporate networks. The monitoring of traffic through interfaces between these nodes is crucial to ensure quality of service (QoS).

Napatech SmartNICs decode these tunnels and provide the ability to correlate and load balance based on the flows in the tunnels. Analysis applications can use this capability to test, secure and optimize mobile networks and services. To effectively analyze the different services associated with each subscriber, it is important to separate them and analyze each one individually. Napatech SmartNICs have the ability to identify the content of tunnels, allowing the analysis of each service used by a subscriber. This quickly provides the application with the information it needs and enables efficient analysis of network and application traffic. Napatech’s frame classification, flow identification, filtering, coloring, splitting and intelligent multi-CPU distribution capabilities can thus be applied to the content of the tunnel rather than the tunnel itself, resulting in more balanced processing and more efficient analysis.

GTP and IP-in-IP tunneling are powerful features for telecommunications equipment vendors who need to build mobile network monitoring products. This feature allows Napatech to outsource and accelerate data analysis so that customers can focus on optimizing the application, maximizing processing resources in standard servers.


IP fragments

IP fragmentation occurs when larger Ethernet frames need to be broken up into multiple fragments to be transmitted over the network. This may be due to limitations in certain parts of the network, typically when GTP tunneling protocols are used. Fragmented frames are a challenge for analysis applications because all fragments must be identified and possibly reassembled before analysis can be performed. Napatech SmartNICs can identify fragments of the same frame and ensure that they are mapped and sent to the same CPU core for processing. This significantly reduces the processing overhead for analysis applications.

Traffic Replay

For reasons of network security, various traffic scenarios must be simulated and simulated in order to strengthen the infrastructure. The packets must also be replayed to understand delays and interruptions caused by traffic bursts/peaks in order to improve quality of service (QoS). Napatech SmartNICs make it easy to set up and specify the test scenario to play the same PCAP files of real network events at 10G, 40G and 100G connection speeds.

Traffic Forwarding

Get highly accurate timestamps for traffic that needs to be redistributed to multiple network devices. Napatech SmartNICs systems can route and/or split traffic collected at a single tap point to a cluster of servers for processing without the need for additional devices. This is achieved by the fact that Napatech SmartNICs act as both Smart Taps and packet capture devices and are suitable for multi-box solutions with single tap points. This feature eliminates the need to implement expensive SmartTaps, timestamp switches, packet switches and other time synchronization components.

Session control

Access control and authentication solutions can now implement full line rate solutions that can handle small packets, with a SmartNIC that enables robust packet transmission under high network load. Session control drives traffic in and out of the SmartNIC with low latency (<5us) while simultaneously copying a subset to the host CPU for analysis. With the session control feature, inline use cases can benefit from low latency at speeds of 1-100G.

In-Line Mode

The Napatech SmartNIC family supports 100 Gbps inline applications, enabling customers to create powerful yet flexible inline solutions on standard servers. The higher the CPU requirements of the application and the higher the speed of the connections, the higher the value of this solution. Features include:

  • Full throughput bidirectional Rx/Tx up to 100G link speed for all packet sizes
  • Multi-core processing support with up to 128 Rx/Tx streams per SmartNIC
  • Adaptable, hash-based load distribution
  • Efficient Zero Copy Roundtrip from Rx to Tx
  • Single bit flip selection to discard or forward each packet
  • Typical 50 us roundtrip latency from Rx to Tx fiber

CPU Socket Load balancing

Improve your CPU utilization with the CPU socket load balancing feature offered by Napatech NT40E3 SmartNICs. Improve CPU performance by up to 30% per server for 4x10G analysis with Napatech SmartNICs that can efficiently distribute traffic across 2 CPU sockets and make packets available to multiple analysis threads on both CPU sockets simultaneously. This frees CPU resources needed for copying data between the two sockets and eliminates the need for expensive QPI bus transfers.
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NT40E3-4-PTP SmartNIC

NT40E3-4-PTP-NEBS accelerator

Napatech Software Suite

The Napatech Software Suite offers a clear programming interface as well as support for the well-known open source interface libpcap and the Windows variant WinPcap. This allows programmers to quickly integrate Napatech’s analysis cards into their system for reliable network monitoring and security applications.

Napatech Software Suite

Cross-Industry Use

Network Latency Measurement (Finance)
Our solutions provide precise data to applications that make network latency and packet runtimes visible by capturing all transactions and measuring the exact time of each trading event down to the nanosecond. This enables financial institutions, for example, to ensure optimal performance and transparency of their trading infrastructures.

Network performance management
Our solutions provide data to applications that monitor any network activity in real time, enabling analysis of network performance from multiple locations on the network. This helps network managers optimise infrastructure efficiency.

Fault diagnosis and compliance
Our solutions deliver network data to applications, providing permanent access to all information that has traversed the network in the order in which it was transmitted. This enables network managers to comply with basic regulations and analyse problems from historical data. It also allows them to take action to prevent problems from recurring in the future.

Revenue and service optimisation
Our solutions deliver data to applications that can analyse subscriber behaviour as well as specific app usage, allowing operators to adjust their services and business models to maximise value.

Ultimate Tech Specs


NT40E3-4-PTP & NT40E3-4-PTP-NEBS

Network Interfaces

  • Standard: IEEE 802.3 100 Gbps Ethernet LAN
  • Physical interface: 4 x SFP+ ports

Supported Modules

  • Supported SFP modules: Multi-mode SX, single-mode LX and ZX, 1000BASE-T or 10/100/1000BASE-T
  • Supported SFP+ modules: Multi-mode SR, singlemode LR and ER, 10GBASE-CR
  • Supported dual-rate modules: Multi-mode SR and singlemode LR


  • Capture rate: From 4 x 1 Gbps to 4 x 10 Gbps dependent on transceiver module used
  • Transmit rate: From 4 x 1 Gbps to 4 x 10 Gbps dependent on transceiver module used
  • CPU load: < 5%

Hardware Time Stamp

  • Resolution: 1 ns
  • Stratum 3 compliant TCXO

On-Board IEEE 1588-2008 (PTP V2)

  • Full IEEE 1588-2008 stack
  • Packet Delay Variation (PDV) filter
  • PTP master and slave in IEEE 1588-2008 default profile
  • PTP slave in IEEE 1588-2008 telecom and power profiles

Time Formats

  • PCAP-ns/-μs
  • NDIS 10 ns/100 ns
  • UNIX 10 ns

Time Synchronization

  • External connectors: Dedicated pluggable
  • Internal connectors: 2 for daisy-chain support

Pluggable Options for Time Synchronization

  • PPS for GPS and CDMA
  • IEEE 1588-2008 (PTP v2)
  • NT-TS for accelerator-to-accelerator time sync

Host Interface and Memory

  • Bus type: 8-lane 8 GT/s PCIe Gen3
  • PCIe performance: 48 Gbps full duplex
  • Onboard RAM: 4 GB DDR3
  • Flash: Supports 2 boot images


  • RMON1 counters plus jumbo frame counters per port
  • Frame and byte counters per color (filter) and per host buffer
  • Counter sets always delivered as a consistent time-stamped snapshot

Environment for NT40E3-4-PTP

  • Power consumption: 27 Watts including SFP+ SR modules
  • Operating temperature: 0° to 45°C (32° to 113°F)
  • Operating humidity: 20% to 80%
  • MTBF: 297,993 hours according to UTE C 80-810

Environment for NT40E3-4-PTP-NEBS

  • Operating temperature (up to 1,800 m and airflow of at least 2,5 m/s):
    –5 °C to 55 °C (23 °F to 131 °F) measured around the SmartNIC
  • Operating humidity: 5% to 85%


  • Temperature
  • Power

OS Support

  • Linux
  • FreeBSD
  • Windows


  • Easy-to-integrate NT-API
  • libpcap support
  • WinPcap support
  • Software PTP stack

Physical Dimensions

  • ½-length PCIe
  • Full-height PCIe

Regulatory Approvals and Compliances

  • PCI-SIG®
  • NEBS level 3
  • CE
  • CB
  • RoHS
  • cURus (UL)
  • FCC
  • ICES
  • VCCI
  • C-TICK

4x1G/10G Solution Data Sheet

Napatech Feature Overview Data Sheet

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