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Modern commodity hardware architectures, with their multiple multi-core CPUs and high-speed system interconnects, exhibit tremendous power. In this paper, the authors study performance limitations when building both software routers and software virtual routers on such systems. They show that the fundamental performance bottleneck is currently the memory system, and that through careful mapping of tasks to CPU cores, they can achieve forwarding rates of 7 million minimum-sized packets per second on mid-range server-class systems, thus demonstrating the viability of software routers. They also find that current virtualisation systems, when used to provide forwarding engine virtualisation, yield aggregate performance equivalent to that of a single software router, a tenfold improvement on current virtual router platform performance.
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