P4 programming with Intel 3rd Gen can help build standard Telco Edge Infrastructure Models

Retrieving data in the edge computing environment.

Recent PoC’s of  P4 programming models with multiple registers alongside Intel 3rd gen  processors and agileX(10nm) gave critical indications about Future delivery model of 5G Edge Infrastructure and Networks by solving following Telco requirements  

Telco Key Edge Infrastructure Requirements

  1. Workload placements at edge with possibility to make them portable based on real time use
  2. Enhancing Infrastructure models and form factors for the Edge
  3. Evaluate P4 as baseline to build unified model to program Compute/Network , VNF/CNF got real time use cases like traffic steering

Results with Smart NICS and Latest X86 Chips

Below are key findings

  1. The hardware can deliver consistent throughput (Required 10Gbps per core ) till 10 register pipelines and degrades exponentially after it @12% for each pair of registers after this
  2. Impact on latency is prominent as we increase registers like 40-50% variation after register >10
  3. P4 architecture with Intel 3rd generation can help us solve and optimize for this issues dramatically

Key Achievements with P4 in last year

  1. Unified programming model from Core to Cloud to Edge demo
  2. Vendors like Xilinx ,Intel , Dell , barefoot etc fully supporting accelerate
  3. 12Tbps programmable chips available for PoC at least in Labs
  4. P4 can build CI/CD for Hardware infrastructure to ensure Infra resilience

Current Challenges and Targets in 2021

Below are still some gaps that is expected to be addressed to ensure Telco Grade Edge

  1. P4 is good in Core but in Edge it needs needs to be improved especially Common API models
  2. Performance on Latency is key to build Edge Infrastructure
  3. P4 is not a modeling language but switching model language how to abstract it on service level is a issue
  4. VNF partners ecosystem specially drivers on Cloud and VNF side
  5. Can GPU be of help solve multiple register pipelines
  6. How P4 can work with IPV4 to build use cases like Slicing

Finally most important need that need more cohesive community effort is Telemetry and topology till now we only have less references like from deepinsights on P4 refer to below


  • Advanced Information Networking and Applications: Proceedings , Volume 1
  • Toyota Edge Proceedings
  • IEEE

Published by

Saad Sheikh

I am a Senior Architect with a passion to architect and deliver solutions addressing business adoption of the Cloud and Automation/Orchestration covering both Telco and IT Applications industry. My work in carrier Digital transformation involve Architecting and deploying Platforms for both Telco and IT Applications including Clouds both Open stack and container platforms, carrier grade NFV ,SDN and Infra Networking , DevOps CI/CD , Orchestration both NFVO and E2E SO , Edge and 5G platforms for both Consumer and Enterprise business. On DevOps side i am deeply interested in TaaS platforms and journey towards unified clouds including transition strategy for successful migration to the Cloud Please write to me on snasrullah@swedtel.com

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