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Issue No. 12 - Dec. (2013 vol. 62)
ISSN: 0018-9340
pp: 2476-2488
Deepak Unnikrishnan , University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Ramakrishna Vadlamani , Qualcomm Inc., Boxborough
Yong Liao , Microsoft Corporation, Seattle
Jeremie Crenne , Université de Bretagne Sud, Lorient
Lixin Gao , University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Russell Tessier , University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Network virtualization presents a powerful approach to share physical network infrastructure among multiple virtual networks. Recent advances in network virtualization advocate the use of field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) as flexible high performance alternatives to conventional host virtualization techniques. However, the limited on-chip logic and memory resources in FPGAs severely restrict the scalability of the virtualization platform and necessitate the implementation of efficient forwarding structures in hardware. The research described in this manuscript explores the implementation of a scalable heterogeneous network virtualization platform that integrates virtual data planes implemented in FPGAs with software data planes created using host virtualization techniques. The system exploits data plane heterogeneity to cater to the dynamic service requirements of virtual networks by migrating networks between software and hardware data planes. We demonstrate data plane migration as an effective technique to limit the impact of traffic on unmodified data planes during FPGA reconfiguration. Our system implements forwarding tables in a shared fashion using inexpensive off-chip memories and supports both Internet Protocol (IP) and non-IP-based data planes. Experimental results show that FPGA-based data planes can offer two orders of magnitude better throughput than their software counterparts, and FPGA reconfiguration can facilitate data plane customization within 12 seconds. An integrated system that supports up to 15 virtual networks has been validated on the NetFPGA platform.
Field programmable gate arrays, Computer architecture, Random access memory, Virtualization, IP networks

D. Unnikrishnan, R. Vadlamani, Y. Liao, J. Crenne, L. Gao and R. Tessier, "Reconfigurable Data Planes for Scalable Network Virtualization," in IEEE Transactions on Computers, vol. 62, no. 12, pp. 2476-2488, 2013.
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