PISCES: A programmable, protocol-independent software switch

Muhammad Shahbaz, Sean Choi, Ben Pfaff, Changhoon Kim, Nicholas G. Feamster, Nick McKeown, Jennifer L. Rexford

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

75 Scopus citations

Abstract

Hypervisors use software switches to steer packets to and from virtual machines (VMs). These switches frequently need upgrading and customization - to support new protocol headers or encapsulations for tunneling and overlays, to improve measurement and debugging features, and even to add middlebox-like functions. Software switches are typically based on a large body of code, including kernel code, and changing the switch is a formidable undertaking requiring domain mastery of network protocol design and developing, testing, and maintaining a large, complex codebase. Changing how a software switch forwards packets should not require intimate knowledge of its implementation. Instead, it should be possible to specify how packets are processed and forwarded in a high-level domain-specific language (DSL) such as P4, and compiled to run on a software switch. We present PISCES, a software switch derived from Open vSwitch (OVS), a hard-wired hypervisor switch, whose behavior is customized using P4. PISCES is not hard-wired to specific protocols; this independence makes it easy to add new features. We also show how the compiler can analyze the high-level specification to optimize forwarding performance. Our evaluation shows that PISCES performs comparably to OVS and that PISCES programs are about 40 times shorter than equivalent changes to OVS source code.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSIGCOMM 2016 - Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on Special Interest Group on Data Communication
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Pages525-538
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781450341936
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 22 2016
Event2016 ACM Conference on Special Interest Group on Data Communication, SIGCOMM 2016 - Florianopolis, Brazil
Duration: Aug 22 2016Aug 26 2016

Publication series

NameSIGCOMM 2016 - Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on Special Interest Group on Data Communication

Other

Other2016 ACM Conference on Special Interest Group on Data Communication, SIGCOMM 2016
CountryBrazil
CityFlorianopolis
Period8/22/168/26/16

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Communication
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Signal Processing

Keywords

  • Compiler optimizations
  • Domain-specific languages (DSL)
  • OVS
  • P4
  • PISCES
  • Programmable data planes
  • Software switch
  • Software-defined networks (SDN)

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