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Big data, multimedia communications and cloud-based services are forcing service providers to deploy intelligent network infrastructures. At the core of these network infrastructures are intelligent network systems with the latest multicore processors. The software running on these multicore processors needs to support control plane processing and complex packet processing functions delivering optimal performance and fast time to market.


In this blog I am going to explore the benefits of using the Wind River Intelligent Network Platform (INP) to develop high-performance networking applications on Intel® Xeon® processors. Wind River Systems is an Associate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. The 250-plus members of the Alliance collaborate closely with Intel to create hardware, software, tools, and services to help speed intelligent systems to market.


Developing Network Infrastructure

Network traffic is rapidly growing on both fixed line and wireless networks. Internet access, cloud services, video and TV on demand and voice over IP (VoIP) are all driving network bandwidth. LTE/4G wireless networks and the enhanced packet core (EPC) are providing dramatically higher capacity to mobile devices with at least 10Mbps already available in many areas and some operators planning support for 1Gbps using LTE-Advanced.


To profitably deliver these services carriers are investing in intelligent networks that can effectively control network traffic based on application, available bandwidth and subscriber status. These new networks are entirely packet-based and handle a mix of data, video and voice. The intelligent network systems at the core of these networks must efficiently forward packets to the destination, analyze flows to identify applications and subscribers, and inspect packet content to filter out malware and other unsuitable content.


Wind River Intelligent Network Platform (INP)

The Wind River Intelligent Network Platform (INP) is an integrated and optimized software system designed to enable equipment providers to deliver high-performance network systems that accelerate, analyze and secure network traffic and applications. The INP includes both critical run-time components and tools for developing network systems using the latest processors including Intel Xeon processors based on the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture.


As shown in Figure 1 the INP integrates runtime solutions for both Linux operating system and high performance data plane engines running on multicore processors. The platform can be used with native Linux applications and a growing range of data plane applications. The INP has been optimized for Wind River Carrier Grade Linux, a commercial grade open source runtime solution that complies with the Carrier Grade Linux 5 specification. Developers can also use their own Linux distribution.


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Figure 1. Wind River Intelligent Network Platform (INP)


The Wind River Application Acceleration Engine (1) is an optimized network stack supporting layer 3 and layer 4 network protocols. The Content Inspection Engine (2) is a high-speed pattern matching solution for Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). The Flow Analysis Engine (3) enables protocol and application identification, a critical component of intelligent network systems.

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Figure 2. Intel® Data Plane Development Kit and INP


The Application Acceleration Engine works in conjunction with Linux in the data plane and leverages the Intel® Data Plane Development Kit (Intel® DPDK). As shown in Figure 2 the INP is closely integrated with the Intel DPDK leveraging the performance of the libraries to accelerate networking applications and protocols running on Intel processors. The Wind River Application Acceleration Engine supports 1, 10, and 40Gbps interfaces and Wind River claims performance gains of up to 1,100% for IP-forwarding and up to 650% for TCP.


Flow Analysis and Content Inspection

The Wind River Flow Analysis Engine is shown in Figure 3. Packets are extracted from the incoming packet stream and categorized into different traffic flows using data from the flow class libraries. The flow analysis engine can also be used to identify the communications protocols and applications related to individual packets and flows. The flow information from the Flow Analysis Engine is forwarded to other network elements, either within the INP or external and can be used to prioritize traffic associated with high value applications or subscribers.

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Figure 3. Wind River Flow Analysis Engine


The Wind River Content Inspection Engine is a high-speed pattern matching solution. The Content Inspection Engine matches groups of regular expressions against blocks or streams of data extracted from the incoming packet stream. The run-time engine matches data against a compiled pattern database. Matching is supported across an arbitrary number of block writes and is conformant to a large subset of the industry standard Perl Compatible Regular Expressions (PCRE) syntax.


Media Gateway Example

The Wind River Intelligent Network Platform can be used in many different network systems. A simple example is a Media Gateway that is delivering video streams to subscribers. The video stream is split into packets that are forwarded by the INP Application Acceleration Engine. Individual video streams are identified by the INP Flow Analysis Engine. The content of the video stream is checked by the INP Content Inspection Engine for malware. The individual elements of the INP work together, to ensure the media gateway is delivering a high quality video stream.


Putting It All Together

The Wind River Intelligent Network Platform with Intel DPDK and Intel Xeon processors provide a high performance solution to accelerate packet forwarding, flow analysis and content inspection. By using standard processors and off-the-shelf software system providers can efficiently develop intelligent network systems that will maximize network throughput and service provider return on investment.


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Wind River Systems is an Associate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.

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Simon Stanley

Roving Reporter (Intel® Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Principal Consultant, Earlswood Marketing

Follow me on Twitter: @simon_stanley