Evaluating Xen for Router Virtualization

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Executive Summary

In this paper, the performance of a software IP router forwarding plane inside the Xen virtual machine monitor environment is evaluated with a view to identifying (some) design issues in Virtual Routers. Even with minimal sized packets, the Xen Dom0 privileged domain offers near native forwarding performance at the condition that the solicitations to unprivileged domains stay minimal, whereas Xen unprivileged domains offer very poor performance in every cases. This shows that an important design principle for virtual router platforms must be to handle all forwarding, for all virtual routers, onto the same forwarding engine, in order to avoid much detrimental per-packet context switching.

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