Virtualization for a Network Processor Runtime System

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Executive Summary

The continuing ossification of the Internet is slowing the pace of network innovation. Network diversification presents one solution to this problem, by virtualizing the network at multiple layers. Diversified networks consist of a shared physical substrate, virtual routers (metarouters), and virtual links (metalinks). Virtualizing routers enables smooth and incremental upgrades to new network services. The current priority for a diversified router prototype is to enable reserved slices of the network for researchers to perform repeatable, high-speed network experiments. General-purpose processors have well-established techniques for virtualization, but do not scale efficiently to multi-gigabit speeds. To achieve these speeds, the authors employ Network Processors (NPs), typically consisting of multicore, multi-threaded processors with asymmetric, heterogeneous memories.

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