Virtualizing Network Processors

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Executive Summary

This paper considers the problem of virtualizing the resources of a Network Processor (NP) in order to allow multiple third-parties to execute their own virtual router software on a single physical router at the same time. The broad interest is in designing such a router capable of supporting virtual networking. The authors discuss the issues and challenges involved in this virtualization, and then describe specific techniques for virtualizing both the control and data-plane processors on NPs. For Intel IXP NPs in particular, they present a dynamic, macro-based technique for virtualization that allows multiple virtual routers to run on multiple data plane processors (or micro-engines) while maintaining memory isolation and enforcing memory bandwidth allocations.

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