Thursday, April 28th
9:00 AM-
A-201: System Development (Architectures/Software/Tools Track)
Paper Title: Leveraging P4 in SmartNICs: Expected Benefits, Challenges, and Solutions

Paper Abstract: P4 and network programmability have brought fresh enthusiasm to computer networking, opening up new roles for the network and creating the premises for a host of new ideas to sprout. A strong community has grown around the initiative and worked on the standardization of language, applications, and architecture of network nodes with the specification of the Programmable Switch Architecture (PSA). Recently, efforts have started to address Network Interface Card (NIC) specific matters with work around the specification of a Programmable NIC Architecture (PNA). Network programmability is an even more powerful tool when deployed at the edge because (i) more processing can be done on each packet given that devices deal with lower packet rates (i.e., a high degree of distribution enables high scale) and (ii) closeness to the traffic source and destination can provide added value in implementing service logic. Although P4 is a good candidate to express packet processing functions, it cannot meet the requirements of SmartNIC programming. There are both advantages and challenges in using P4 for this purpose. Some enhancements have already been adopted by the PNA Workgroup, but the best option currently for supporting a wide range of high performance SmartNIC services is combining (enhanced) P4 with higher level, general purpose programming languages and fixed logic.

Paper Author: Mario Baldi, Fellow, Pensando Systems

Author Bio: Mario Baldi is a Fellow at Pensando Systems, where he is in charge of product management for APIs, software development environments, and the third generation system-on-chip. He also participates in the Architecture Workgroup of the P4 community. He was previously Director of Technology at Cisco, where he helped develop the operating system for Nexus switches. He earned a PhD in computer engineering from the Politecnico di Torino (Italy). He has published articles and given presentations on the P4 language and SmartNIC applications.