But realizing the benefits of NFV and SDN hinges on achieving high-performance packet processing on industry-standard servers; otherwise, we’ll have unacceptable bottlenecks throughout the network. This is because many workloads, like security, load balancing, and Quality of Service (QoS), require some level of packet processing along with high performance computing capabilities.
Accelerating Packet Processing
In 2008, Intel developed the Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) to greatly speed up packet processing on Intel® processor-based servers. This set of optimized libraries and drivers is continuously improved, yielding impressive results, such as delivering up to 233 Gbps throughput with 64 byte packets on an Intel® Xeon® processor-based platform.1 Plus, the entire industry has been able to take advantage of this work since 2010, when Intel released the DPDK as an open source product.
DPDK has become the defacto standard for Open Platform NFV (OPNFV), partly due to its multi-architecture support. The DPDK API has been adopted by CPU vendors including Intel, NXP, Cavium and others, and NIC vendors including Intel, Mellanox*, Chelsio*, Broadcom* and others. This multi-vendor approach makes it easier to develop network functions, reuse code, and preserve software investment.
A recent DPDK release had more than 950 contributions from 115 organizations, showing how DPDK is supported by a strong, vibrant and open-source community. Intel continues to add new features and capabilities such as development of the cryptodev API to support security functionality via both software and hardware acceleration. We’ve also enhanced vhost/virtio development efforts that accelerate DPDK-enabled virtual switches and statistics collection and reporting for improved service assurance.
Taking DPDK to the Next Level
Service agility is about performance and flexibility. To help maximize performance, one of Intel’s DPDK objectives is to expose performance-enhancing platform features to the orchestrator. This way, it can allow a service, such as an intrusion prevention system (IPS), to run faster by assigning it to a platform with a hardware accelerator such as a crypto engine.
To increase deployment and development flexibility, Intel is working on software accelerators so it’s possible to transparently switch between hardware and software acceleration implementations, thus improving application portability. As a result, orchestrators can migrate workloads between dissimilar platforms (with different hardware and software acceleration features) and still achieve desired performance.
Increasing service agility with DPDK
With NFV and SDN, we’re moving to a software-based model that often requires advanced capabilities (e.g., crypto accelerators, QoS, classification, NIC device features). To help simplify this task, DPDK provides a unified, single software development environment for developing advanced network functions via a standard API. Developers can use the framework to build more capable and reusable network functions with less effort, and ultimately, give service providers greater service agility in deploying new and legacy services throughout the network.
The framework also helps with integrating essential Intel networking technologies such as DPDK, Hyperscan, Intel® QuickAssist Technology for network security processing, and field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) for acceleration of other primitives and workloads. Developers will also be able to move their software between different Intel platforms more easily. This scalability is important for 5G, since there will be an incredibly large number of diverse platforms supporting and connecting to the network. Service providers will use this software flexibility to support different vertical markets (e.g., retail, healthcare, automotive, and smart home), each with its own cases that require tailored solutions.
Reducing Time and Effort
DPDK is now a critical capability for enabling the adoption of NFV and making network and business transformation possible. To further empower this change, Intel is investing to ensure developers experience the highest levels of performance, abstraction, and innovation. The DPDK Framework takes this a step further by giving them the tools they need to combine fundamental capabilities together with a develop-once, use-many-times model. Learn more about new features added to DPDK 16.07 by viewing this webinar.
Follow Dan Rodriguez on Twitter: @drod2000.
1 Hardware Platform: SuperMicro® -X10DRX, CPU: Intel® Xeon® Processor E5-2658 v4, Chipset: Intel® C612 chipset, Sockets: 2, QPI/DMI: 9.6GT/s, PCIe: Gen3x8, Memory: DDR4 2400MHz, 1Rx4 8GB (total 64GB), 4 Channel per Socket, NIC: 10 x Intel® Ethernet CNA XL710-QDA2PCI-Express Gen3 x8 Dual Port 40 GbEEthernet NIC (1x40G/card), DPDK 2.2.0.
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