Building a fast, virtualized data plane with programmable hardware

Muhammad Bilal Anwer, Nick Feamster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Network virtualization allows many networks to share the same underlying physical topology; this technology has offered promise both for experimentation and for hosting multiple networks on a single shared physical infrastructure. Much attention has focused on virtualizing the network control plane, but, ultimately, a limiting factor in the deployment of these virtual networks is data-plane performance: Virtual networks must ultimately forward packets at rates that are comparable to native, hardware-based approaches. Aside from proprietary solutions from vendors, hardware support for virtualized data planes is limited. The advent of open, programmable network hardware promises flexibility, speed, and resource isolation, but, unfortunately, hardware does not naturally lend itself to virtualization. We leverage emerging trends in programmable hardware to design a flexible, hardware-based data plane for virtual networks. We present the design, implementation, and preliminary evaluation of this hardware-based data plane and show how the proposed design can support many virtual networks without compromising performance or isolation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-82
Number of pages8
JournalComputer Communication Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications


  • NetFPGA
  • Network virtualization


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