VALE, a Switched Ethernet for Virtual Machines

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Executive Summary

The growing popularity of virtual machines is pushing the demand for high performance communication between them. Past solutions have seen the use of hardware assistance, in the form of "PCI pass-through" (dedicating parts of physical NICs to each virtual machine) and even bouncing traffic through physical switches to handle data forwarding and replication. In this paper, the authors show that, with a proper design, very high speed communication between virtual machines can be achieved completely in software. Their architecture, called VALE, implements a Virtual Local Ethernet that can be used by virtual machines, such as QEMU, KVM and others, as well as by regular processes.

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