OpenFlow 1.1 in hardware: I was wrong (again)
Earlier this month I wrote “we’ll probably have to wait at least a few years before we’ll see a full-blown hardware product implementing OpenFlow 1.1.” (and probably repeated something along the same lines in during the OpenFlow Packet Pushers podcast). I was wrong (and I won’t split hairs and claim that an academic proof-of-concept doesn’t count). Here it is: @nbk1 pointed me to a 100 Gbps switch implementing the latest-and-greatest OpenFlow 1.1.
The trick lies in the NP-4 network processors from EZchip. These amazing beasts are powerful enough to handle the linked tables required by OpenFlow 1.1; the researchers “just” had to implement the OpenFlow API and compile OpenFlow TCAM structures into NP-4 microcode.
I have to admit I’m impressed (and as some people know, that’s not an easy task). It doesn’t matter whether the solution can handle full 100 Gbps or what the pps figures are; they got very far very soon using off-the-shelf hardware, so it shouldn’t be impossibly hard to repeat the performance and launch a commercial product. The only question is the price of the NP-4 chipset (including associated TCAM they were using) – can someone build a reasonably-priced switch out of that hardware?
Along the same lines: would anyone know which vendors/products are using the NP-4 chips? That information might give us some insight into how pricey an NP-4-based switch could be.
some good info here
"....NP-4 will most likely go into production in 4Q11 and we now do not expect the NP-4c based ASR9000 line-card to go into production before 1Q12. In our view, longer term prospects remain quite positive as our checks suggest that service provider secular trends are healthy and also as multiple tier1 customers including CSCO have already signed on to use the next generation NP-5 platfor..."
Also, based on the rough calculations they make in the PDF, the NP-x chipsets are not a major cost factor.