Software-defined Specification Environment supports “softly” defined networks

April 01, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Xilinx’ SDNet Software Defined Specification Environment and All Programmable FPGAs/SoCs expand programmability and intelligence from the control to the data plane: introduces notion of “content-aware data plane hardware”, and allows for on-the-fly network hardware re-configuration.

Design of the programmable data plane functions is enabled by the Software Defined Specification Environment for Networking (SDNet), with functional specifications automatically compiled into Xilinx’s All Programmable FPGAs and SoCs.

In contrast to traditional SDN architectures, which employ fixed data plane hardware with a narrow southbound API connection to the control plane, Softly Defined Networks are based upon a programmable data plane with content-intelligence and a rich southbound API control plane connection. This, Xilinx claims, enables multiple disruptive capabilities including:

· Support of wire speed services that are independent of protocol complexity

· Provisioning of per-flow, flexible services

· Support for revolutionary in-service “hitless” upgrades while operating at 100% line rate

These capabilities enable carriers and MSOs to dynamically provision unique, differentiated services without any interruption to the existing service or the need for hardware requalification or manual intervention. This provides service providers higher revenue potential, and network equipment providers realise similar benefits from the feature rich, flexible Softly Defined Network platform which allows for extensive differentiation through the deployment of content-aware data plane hardware that is programmed with the SDNet environment.

Additional benefits of Softly Defined Network solutions enabled by SDNet and Xilinx All Programmable FPGAs and SoCs include:

· Improved, highly flexible Quality of Service (QoS)

· Flow and session aware capabilities

· Fully programmable hardware data plane and I/O

· Support for NFV at wire speed including user defined, custom capabilities

· Scalable line rates from 1G to 400G

“The first phase of SDN (Software Defined Networking) enables data centre and WAN operators to customise and improve their network in software. In the next phase, we can expect a drive beyond fixed-function hardware data planes. Adding high-level programmability and more sophisticated functionality to the data plane, accessed via standard software APIs, means that networking resources will be managed more intelligently and efficiently, increasing the rate of innovation,” said Nick McKeown, professor of computer science at Stanford University.