Disaggregation and Programmable Forwarding Planes

Prem Prem Jonnalagadda l Jan 24, 2017

At Barefoot, we have successfully built the world’s highest performance Ethernet switch ASIC with a fully programmable packet processing pipeline and have been sampling to our customers since Q4, 2016

If you look at today’s “white-box” switches, most, if not all, have a fixed-function forwarding plane ASIC inside. When choosing your network switches, you may have a choice in hardware systems and the software that runs on them but the forwarding plane inside is still fixed. A programmable forwarding plane enables the next level of disaggregation in the networking stack - it lifts the packet processing logic off the ASIC and into software

Our Tofino™ series of P4-programmable Ethernet switch ASICs, with performance up to 6.5Tb/s, enable network owners and architects to easily define their own forwarding plane, one that is suitable for their applications, and scale it as they go. With Tofino and P4, users get unprecedented visibility into how the packets are being processed by the forwarding plane, allowing them to debug failures and problems in the network in real-time.

Introducing the "Wedge 100B" switch designs

Facebook has pioneered disaggregation of the networking stack by making available open hardware for building large-scale networks via the Open Compute Project (OCP). In a testament to OCP’s vision, we’ve leveraged OCP’s Wedge 100 design to create two new "Wedge 100B" designs - a 1RU Wedge100BF-32X and a 2RU Wedge100BF-65X. Today, we are delighted to share them with the OCP community. Both these platforms use our Tofino Ethernet switch ASICs as their forwarding plane.


3.2Tb/s Wedge100BF-32X (1RU)


6.5Tb/s Wedge100BF-65X (2RU)

We’ve incorporated several enhancements into these Wedge 100B designs - higher efficiency Power Supply Units (PSUs), cost-optimized PCB design, improved Design For Manufacturability (DFM), beefier CPU module, etc. These platforms run an updated OpenBMC firmware and support our Capilano™ Software Development Environment (SDE). We have also ported FBOSS, SONiC and other Network Operating Systems (NOSs) to support P4 programmable forwarding planes.

Now with Tofino and Wedge 100B series of switches, we have, for the first time, a programmable forwarding plane available to the OCP community. Folks building networks utilizing OCP gear will now have the ability to own and define the forwarding plane. Using the Tofino based Wedge 100B platforms and our Capilano SDE users can implement and deploy new forwarding features, real-time monitoring, programmable telemetry applications, etc. at the speed of software. The Wedge 100B platforms can be ordered now from Edgecore Networks.

Disaggregate: Networking

We will be presenting our technology and the Wedge 100B platforms at Disaggregate: Networking event today. Nick McKeown our Co-Founder & Chief Scientist will talk about the differences between fixed-function and programmable forwarding planes and how the latter enable new use cases in packet forwarding. Nick will explain how the combination of Tofino and P4 can be used to define how packets are processed in the network and will discuss the benefits that this new paradigm provides.

If you are attending this event you will have a chance to take a look at our Wedge 100B platforms. We will also be demonstrating among other things, the unique telemetry and visibility features made possible by Tofino and P4. As an example, we will be showing how you can see micro-bursts in real-time on Tofino.

If you are not attending this event, please check back here in a couple of days for a link to the video of Nick’s talk.

Disaggregate: Networking, is an invitation-only, technical conference for engineers with an interest in open and disaggregated networking solutions, on January 24, 2017 in Menlo Park.