Netronome – one of the first network equipment providers to jump on the software defined networking (SDN) protocol transformation of the routers and switches that power the Internet – has just introduced a software/hardware platform to augment and simplify the virtual switch implementations that SDN requires.
The new products include a suite of FlowNIC PCIe Gen3 cards that scale up to 200 Gbps, along with a new FlowEnvironment software package that provides standards-based APIs and configuration protocols for network function virtualization (NFV) needed for virtual switch offload and acceleration.
According to Niel Viljen, founder and CEO of Netronome, with software defined networking, the previous complex infrastructure is replaced with a simplified packet core built using merchant switch silicon, surrounded by a new, software-based, intelligent edge.
“The intelligent edge is comprised of standard servers that are responsible for hosting business applications, and also providing network and security services, while simultaneously directing traffic among virtual machines across a sophisticated overlay network,” he said.
“These network functions are implemented within a virtual switch and consume valuable processing resources. Consequently the complex and varying workloads stifle both application and networking performance.
The problem with SDN and NFV is how to efficiently scale virtual switch implementations in the intelligent network locations where the highest throughput and I/O densities are required, while maintaining the rapid evolution of a software-based edge.
The intelligent edge is comprised of standard servers that are responsible for hosting business applications, and also providing network and security services, while simultaneously directing traffic among virtual machines across a sophisticated overlay network.
“These network functions are implemented within a virtual switch and consume valuable processing resources,” said Viljen, “consequently the complex and varying workloads stifle both application and networking performance.
On the hardware side, Netronome' solution to this scalability problems is its FlowNIC-6xxx family of PCIe Gen3 based NIC boards with 2×40, 4×40, 1×100 and 2×100 gigabit Ethernet options. They can handle up to four PCIe Gen3 x8 interfaces and are for use in standard single, dual and quad socket configurations.
To allow network switch and router developers to kee up with the still rapidly changing SDN protocols and standards environmnet, he said the cards feature 216 programmable cores to keep pace with the rapid change in SDN protocols and standards.
Additional hardware accelerators are provided for cryptography, nanosecond accuracy time-stamping, SR-IOV, VMDq, and RoCE. Massive on-chip and on-board memories deliver 24M flow table entries, and 128K wildcard rules to satisfy the requirements of the most demanding SDN and NFV applications.
On the software side, the key to Netronome's solution to the scalability problems its new FlowEnvironment software package with makes it possible for designers to build systems that can deliver more than a 20X increase to virtual switching performance and at the same time increase the number of virtual machine instances available per server.
The FlowEnvironment includes standards-compliant support for Open vSwitch (OVS) 2.0, OpenFlow 1.4, Intel DPDK, and network virtualization protocols such as NV-GRE and VXLAN. The production-ready software provides standard APIs and is fully supported across Netronome’s FlowProcessors scalable up to 400 Gbps. The software is supported on both existing NFE-32xx acceleration cards and the new FlowNIC-6xxx cards.