Nov 13 – 15, 2018
America/Vancouver timezone

What's Happened to the World of Networking Hardware Offloads?

Nov 14, 2018, 2:00 PM
Junior/Ballroom-C (Sheraton Vancouver Wall Center)


Sheraton Vancouver Wall Center



Jesse Brandeburg (Intel) Anjali Singhai Jain (Intel)


Over the last 10 years the world has seen NICs go from single port,
single netdev devices, to multi-port, hardware switching, CPU/NFP
having, FPGA carrying, hundreds of attached netdev providing,
behemoths. This presentation will begin with an overview of the
current state of filtering and scheduling, and the evolution of the
kernel and networking hardware interfaces. (HINT: it’s a bit of a
jungle we’ve helped grow!) We’ll summarize the different kinds of
networking products available from different vendors, and show the
workflows of how a user can use the network hardware
offloads/accelerations available and where there are still gaps. Of
particular interest to us is how to have a useful, generic hardware
offload supporting infrastructure (with seamless software fallback!)
within the kernel, and we’ll explain the differences between deploying
an eBPF program that can run in software, and one that can be
offloaded by a programmable ASIC based NIC. We will discuss our
analysis of the cost of an offload, and when it may not be a great
idea to do so, as hardware offload is most useful when it achieves the
desired speed and requires no special software (kernel changes). Some
other topics we will touch on: the programmability exposed by smart
NICs is more than that of a data plane packet processing engine and
hence any packet processing programming language such as eBPF or P4
will require certain extensions to take advantage of the device
capabilities in a holistic way. We’ll provide a look into the future
and how we think our customers will use the interfaces we want to
provide both from our hardware, and from the kernel. We will also go
over the matrix of most important parameters that are shaping our HW
designs and why.

Presentation materials

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