Platforms for Accelerating the Virtual Infrastructure

Version 4

    Network infrastructures are shifting from physical systems to virtual functions, and this requires a new class of network appliance that provides high-performance processing, balanced input/output (I/O) and hardware or software acceleration. Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) are changing the way networks and services are provisioned. This new virtualized infrastructure requires a combination of standard server technology and modular systems that can be configured to support line-rate performance with network inter-faces up to 100 Gbit/s.

    The increasing use of smart devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, and cloud-based services, such as remote storage and video on demand (VoD), is driving data bandwidth and requiring a much more flexible network. Mobile networks require a complex infrastructure that includes systems to handle data and voice connectivity, quality of service (QoS) and subscriber management. Data centers need high-speed connectivity and access to storage and other resources based on the services being provided. Conventional networks require significant investment and can take days or weeks to provision.

    SDN and NFV enable a virtualized infrastructure where functions and resources can be provisioned and reallocated to meet short-term requirements. This gives service providers significant flexibility in deploying expensive hardware resources to meet customer demands. Service providers are expecting to drive new revenues and dramatically increase return on investment (ROI) by using standard server platforms that support virtual functions.

    The challenge for anyone deploying SDN and NFV is delivering these benefits while still maintaining line-rate performance. Many network ports that are already running at 10 Gbit/s will quickly move to 40 Gbit/s and 100 Gbit/s as data rates continue to increase. Virtual environments extend this challenge by increasing the East-West traffic between virtual functions running on different hardware platforms. The key to meeting this challenge is to deploy hardware platforms that can support the SDN- and NFV-based virtual infrastructure and have integrated hardware and software to support high-speed network interfaces and the acceleration of critical functions, such as security processing and load balancing.

    The purpose of this white paper is to examine these issues. The paper explores the requirements for delivering line-speed performance in a virtual infrastructure environment and reviews an exciting solution to this challenge that is based on a 2U rack-mount chassis with four Intel® Xeon™ processor E5-4600 v2 family, with up to 12 cores per processor, and integrated support for up to 640 Gbit/s of I/O bandwidth. This highly-integrated solution provides the flexibility to implement security acceler-ation up to 400 Gbit/s and stateful load balancing across many virtual servers and networking I/O. The platform supports multiple high-speed network interfaces, in-cluding 100 Gigabit Ethernet (100GE). The paper also describes an off-the-shelf soft-ware solution for supporting NFV and other virtual environments on this platform with line-rate performance.