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sNICh: Efficient Last Hop Networking in the Data Center

Ram, Kaushik Kumar; Mudigonda, Jayaram; Cox, Alan L.; Rixner, Scott; Ranganathan, Partha; Santos, Jose Renato
HP Laboratories


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Abstract: Virtualization has fundamentally changed the data center network. The last hop of the network is no longer handled by a physical network switch, but rather is typically performed in software inside the server to switch among virtual machines hosted by that server. In this paper, we present the concept of a sNICh, which is a combination of a network interface card and switching accelerator for modern virtualized servers. The sNICh architecture exploits its proximity to the server by separating the network switching tasks between hardware and software efficiently. This enables the sNICh to address the resource intensiveness of software virtualization and the scalability limits of current hardware support. The sNICh utilizes a flow-based approach, in which hardware performs basic switching while software handles flow setup based on packet filtering rules. The sNICh minimizes I/O bandwidth utilization by transferring, whenever possible, inter-virtual machine traffic within the main memory. We also present a preliminary evaluation of this architecture using software emulation. We compare the performance of the sNICh with two existing software solutions in Xen, the Linux bridge and Open vSwitch. Our results show that the sNICh out-performs both these existing solutions and also exhibits better scalability.

12 Pages

Additional Publication Information: To be presented at ANCS 2010: The 6th ACM/IEEE Symposium on Architectures for Networking and Communications Systems, San Diego, CA, Oct 25-26, 2010.

External Posting Date: October 21, 2010 [Fulltext]. Approved for External Publication
Internal Posting Date: October 21, 2010 [Fulltext]

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