Joint P4 Demo at ONS 2018 is the First Round of Cooperation Between Netcope and ONF

09/04/18

In this demo we demonstrate how Netcope P4 programmable NIC used as INT Sink and Barefoot Deep Insight Analytics Software work together.

Following the success at MWC 2018 in Barcelona, Open Networking Foundation has invited Netcope Technologies and Barefoot Networks to extend ONF’s CORD demonstration with some more P4 and In-Band Network Telemetry. Working closely with ONF as well as Barefoot engineers, Netcope was able to easily integrate their P4-programmable NICs to play valuable roles within the network infrastructure.

The networks are becoming not just faster, but also smarter and more flexible. To keep pace, modern NICs must offer much more than just receiving and sending packets. We’ve seen offload NICs, smart NICs, and most recently, programmable NICs. Their programming in the P4 language opens up a broad range of new applications, effectively integrated into the whole network infrastructure. When offloaded to NIC, the performance of network virtualization infrastructure (virtual switches, hypervisors, etc.) is not taxed with the additional overhead of these new applications.

This is exactly the case of In-Band Network Telemetry (INT), which has the goal of providing extremely detailed and precise statistics about the network substrate. But you don’t want to decrease performance to measure the performance, right? In this demo, Netcope P4 programmable NIC serves as INT Sink, reporting stats to Barefoot Deep Insight Analytics Software. It also removes INT service headers of the passing packets, so that the destination is not aware of INT. Due to the inherent flexibility of FPGA-based hardware, another Netcope NIC is used as a traffic generator. The whole setup is running at 100 Gbps, showing the technology readiness for the speeds that are yet to become standard server interconnects.

“INT is just one of many applications that will benefit from spreading P4 deployment across the whole networking infrastructure - routers, switches, NICs. Another examples are Sergment Routing, ACLs, vSwitch offload. Integration of this demo was really straightforward, especially because P4 gives you a clean way to express the desired behavior. Oh, and our P4 and C codes from the demo are available at https://github.com/netcope/netcope-p4” says Viktor Puš, Netcope CTO.