AT&T and Intel-led DPDK Project moves to Linux Foundation, sets focus on open-source growth

AT&T, Intel, ZTE and a group of related telecom and technology companies have facilitated the transfer of the DPDK Project (Data Plane Development Kit) to the Linux Foundation, a move that will further open-source efforts.

AT&T, which just recently joined the Linux Foundation as a Platinum member, has been an advocate of open source and open networks.

Earlier this year, AT&T contributed several million lines of ECOMP code to The Linux Foundation, as well as the new Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) Project based on production-ready code from AT&T and OPEN-O contributors.

RELATED: AT&T takes up membership in the Linux Foundation, furthers open source efforts

Chris Rice, SVP of AT&T Labs, said in a release that bringing DPDK to the Linux Foundation will further drive open network standards across the telecom and IT industry segments.

“The Linux Foundation has a history of aligning the open source communities, and DPDK’s transition to The Linux Foundation helps promote more open collaboration for network packet processing,” Rice said.

By becoming part of the Linux Foundation, the two groups have established a governance and membership structure for the DPDK Project to nurture a vibrant and open community, and also provide financial support to help the community. A governing board will guide marketing and consider business impact and alignment with the community. Finally, a technical board, which is in charge of the technical direction of DPDK, is already established and consists of key contributors who lead the ongoing maintenance and evolution of the project.

The DPDK Project includes members from the telecommunications industry, network and cloud infrastructure vendors, and multiple hardware vendors.

In addition to AT&T, Intel and ZTE, other Gold members of the DPDK project are ARM, Cavium, Mellanox, NXP, and Red Hat. Silver members of DPDK include 6WIND, Atomic Rules, Huawei, Spirent, and Wind River.

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), University of Limerick, University of Massachusetts Lowell and Tsinghua University are Associate members.

Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, said that transferring the DPDK work to the Linux Foundation will “encourage continued growth and investment in the DPDK developer community.”

“We believe the vibrant DPDK developer community will quickly grow in their new home and fuel continued rapid innovation in open networking,” Zemlin said.

DPDK is the Data Plane Development Kit that consists of libraries to accelerate packet processing workloads running on a wide variety of CPU architectures. By enabling very fast packet processing, DPDK is making it possible for the telecom industry to move performance-sensitive applications like the backbone for mobile networks and voice to the cloud. Additionally, DPDK was cited as a key enabling technology for network functions virtualization (NFV) in the original ETSI NFV White Paper (PDF).

When DPDK was created in 2010 by Intel, it was made available under a permissive open source license. The open source community was established at in 2013 by 6WIND and has facilitated the continued expansion of the project. Over the last four years, the community has been continuously growing in terms of the number of contributors, patches, and contributing organizations, with 10 major releases completed including contributions from over 400 individuals from 70 different organizations.

DPDK now supports all major central processing unit (CPU) architectures and network interface controllers (NICs) from multiple vendors, which makes it suited to applications that need to be portable across multiple platforms.

Over 20 key open source projects build on DPDK libraries, including MoonGen, mTCP, Ostinato, Lagopus, Fast Data (, Open vSwitch, OPNFV, and OpenStack.