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Vincenzo Maffione, Luigi Rizzo, Giuseppe Lettieri: Flexible Virtual Networking using netmap passthrough, IEEE Lanman 2016, Rome, June 2016

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The rising interest in Network Function Virtualiza-
tion (NFV) requires Virtual Machines (VMs) to operate with
diversified networking workloads, from traditional, bulk TCP
transfers to novel ones featuring extremely high packet rates. In
response, researchers have explored and proposed new solutions
for high performance VM networking, including optimizations
to virtual network adapters (such as VirtIO) to support high
speed bulk traffic, and alternative frameworks for userspace
networking and physical or virtual passthrough.
To date, we are still missing a comprehensive solution that
supports such extreme workloads across multiple operating
systems and hypervisors, while at the same time addressing other
requirements such as ease of configuration, operating system
independence, scalability and isolation.
In this paper we present ptnet, an approach to network I/O
virtualization that provides high performance for both traditional
TCP/IP and high packet rate applications. ptnet leverages the
features of the netmap framework (including virtualization
and passthrough support), and defines a simple yet performant
network device model that can be easily supported in different
operating systems and hypervisors. We prove the effectiveness of
our approach by comparing ptnet’s performance with one of the
state of the art I/O virtualization solutions, namely VirtIO on
Linux and QEMU/KVM. ptnet is available under a BSD license
as part of the netmap distributions on github