DPDK fuels faster packet loads with latest software release

The DPDK project announced the availability of its 18.05 software release, which is its fifth release since joining the Linux Foundation last year.

The Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) project consists of libraries that were designed to speed up packet processing workloads across various architectures. By enabling fast packet processing, DPDK makes it possible for service providers, vendors and organizations to move performance-sensitive applications to the cloud in order to create high-performing edge devices.

"The number of companies involved in this has continued to grow and we're up to 21 members today," said DPDK Chair Jim St. Leger in an interview with FierceTelecom. "If you look at the 18.05 release, which is our largest release to date, it has over 1,700 patches, which from our world is pretty huge. I think that's a pretty big number for any open source project."

"We have over 25 different companies with 160 people from those companies contributing to it," he added. "It's really built up to become the de facto open source networking project in the industry."

The 18.05 release includes additional cryptography support, such as APIs, through DPDK's Cryptodev library as well as a parallel path around compression support.

"With all of the traffic moving across the network, the more you can compress it the more efficiently you can move that traffic," he said. "So we created something called 'Compressdev' that's a compression API. Very similar to what we did with Cryptodev, we started off with software support and in the next release, which is 18.08, we'll add support for hardware compression as well."

In addition to adding support for new devices, 18.05 also includes the start of a developer API to support field-programmable gate array (FPGA).

"There are folks in the industry building solutions based off FPGA devices from a variety of OEMs, so FPGA support got added into the 18.05," St. Leger said. "There's some additional capabilities on the storage side that ties into the compression work that's in 18.05 also."

Edwin Verplanke, principal engineer with Intel’s network platforms group, said DPDK runs with both virtual machines and containers. For the latter, DPDK has an interface to work with containers

"We're supporting a more dynamic of mode operation," he said. "If something went wrong in the host they could dynamically link up whether it’s a container or a virtual machine. We have the ability dynamically come back up to talk to the virtual hardware."

Verplanke said that 18.05 also has a configurable memory system, which is called "dynamic memory scaling," that aligns well with containers and cloud-native scenarios. For example, if a new virtual machine or new container spins up, DPDK can add or remove memory as needed.

Since moving over to the Linux Foundation, the DPDK project has hosted five community summits and established a lab to perform automated testing of its new patches.

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

The 18.05 software release was named "Venky" in honor of Venky Venkatesan, who was known as the father of DPDK. St. Leger said Venkatesan, who worked at Intel, passed away a month ago.

Before moving over to the Linux Foundation last year, DPDK was founded by Intel in 2010 and then was subsequently put into an open source community, DPDK.org, by 6WIND in 2013. DPDK community members include network and cloud vendors, hardware vendors, commercial software vendors, and other open source organizations. More than 20 open source projects build their products and applications based on DPDK libraries, including MoonGen, mTCP, Ostinato, Lagopus, Fast Data, Open vSwitch, OPNFV, and OpenStack.

Gold members for the project include ARM, AT&T, Cavium, Intel, Mellanox, NXP, Red Hat, and ZTE Corporation. Silver members include 6WIND, Atomic Rules, Huawei, Spirent, and Wind River. Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, University of Limerick, University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Tsinghua University are associate members.