June 13, 2014

Kernel bypassing networking

Here is a selection of the many kernel-bypass solutions that are available:
These products each take their own design approaches and it’s interesting to consider choices that they make.

  • Customized kernel device driver. netmap and DNA both fork standard Intel drivers with extensions to map I/O memory into userspace.
  • Custom hardware. Myricom and Napatech both distribute bespoke device drivers for their own custom hardware (ASIC for Myricom and FPGA for Napatech).
  • Userspace library. These solutions each provide unique libraries to access their extensions. The scope varies tremendously: Ethernet I/O, libpcap compatibility, hardware-assisted traffic dispatching for multiprocessing, buffer memory management, all the way up to entire TCP/IP socket layers.
  • Licensing. netmap is open-source, DNA requires a modest license for its userspace library, Napatech requires an NDA and depends on very expensive hardware.

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