June 6, 2016

Support Builds for P4 to Boost NFV

In a world where network processors are viewed as a commodity, the assumption is that most innovation will be driven by software. But support is building for the P4 language to boost NFV, as chip specialists point to hardware improvements that will be key for more demanding applications in a virtualized environment.

To make it easier for organizations to take advantage of a broad range of custom processors that can be optimized for specific use cases, hardware vendors have been rallying behind the open source P4 programming language being developed by the P4 Language Consortium. The Consortium is developing the specifications for the P4 programming language as well as associated compilers.

P4 is a declarative language for expressing how packets are processed in network forwarding elements such as a switches, NICs, routers, or other network function appliances. It is based upon an abstract forwarding model consisting of a parser and a set of match+action table resources, divided between ingress and egress. P4 chips compatible with the language can be reprogrammed in the field, after they are installed in hardware, to help them assimilate the intelligence of software-defined networking (SDN). This could lead the P4 language to boost NFV performance.

Read more at SDxCentral.

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