Software defined networking (SDN) has been called the next revolution in networking, because it promises to bring a better way to manage networks in a complex environment created by virtual servers and multi-vendor switches. It does this by separating the control and data forwarding planes and abstracting the control and management functions into a software-based controller that presents a centralized view of the network.


But that revolution has to start with the switch IC, which is the central piece of the network fabric and collects all of the data needed to manage these networks.  At the upcoming Open Networking Summit, Intel® will be demonstrating how its FM6000 switch family is a key enabler for this next revolution in networking.


Traditional networking methods and protocols were acceptable for yesterday’s static networks, but managing complex and dynamic virtual networks has become extremely labor-intensive. Because of this, it has become far too time consuming and expensive to remain feasible and competitive in today’s virtual networks that are dominated with virtual device mobility, multi-tenancy and the need to quickly adapt to business needs.


Today, each switch in a network has a control plane that draws the network map and tracks the flow of packets through the network. SDN offers relief by creating a software-based controller that collects data from all of the control planes to provide a universal view of network conditions.  OpenFlow is the leading SDN protocol, and it defines both the controller and the protocol that collects data from the switch IC.


Intel’s Barcelona 10GB Ethernet reference design utilizing Intel’sthe FM6364 switch silicon offers OEMs a way to support OpenFlow in high-speed, low latency data center networks, and we will demonstrate this capability at ONS (April 16-18 in Santa Clara).


In our booth, we’ll have a special demo that connects an OpenFlow controller to the Barcelona switch.  Barcelona delivers full non-blocking performance on all 48 10GbE ports and four 40GbE ports with latency of 400ns for L3 switching.  A 10GbE tester will provide the test environment and display how the switch and controller perform under maximum data rates.


The path ahead for the SDN / OpenFlow revolution runs right through the FM6000.  In a future blog post, I’ll detail more about how the FM6000’s Alta architecture supports OpenFlow.  But if you want to see it live, join us at ONS.