Intel is aiming at datacentres with new software-defined networking (SDN) products comprising reference designs based on x86 hardware for physical and virtual switch appliances, plus an optimised version of the Open vSwitch virtual switch software.
The goal of SDN and the related network function virtualisation (NFV) is to do for datacentre networks what virtualisation has already done for servers, namely making them more flexible and easier to dynamically reconfigure to meet changing requirements.
Intel sees an opportunity to address this need with its Open Network Platform (ONP), using x86 hardware running specialised software, in this case based on its Wind River embedded Linux platform.
"SDN and NFV are critical elements of Intel's vision to transform the expensive, complex networks of today to a virtualised, programmable, standards-based architecture running commercial off-the-shelf hardware," said Rose Schooler, vice president of the Intel Architecture Group.
The ONP Switch Reference Design and ONP Server Reference Design are physical and virtual switch appliances, respectively.
Both run Wind River Open Network Software (ONS), described by Intel as a fully customisable network switching stack and provides a common API across both physical and virtual switches.
Available now, the ONP Switch Reference (codenamed Seacliff Trail) combines Intel processors with the firm's Ethernet Switch 6700 series and Communications Chipset 89xx series chips.
Meanwhile, the ONP Server Reference (codenamed Sunrise Trail ) uses Xeon chips, Ethernet Controller and Communications Chipset 89xx series and is designed to handle virtual appliance workloads. It is set to be available in the second half of this year.
The ONP Server will also include a reference implementation of Open vSwitch, which Intel claims is optimised for performance using its Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK).
Intel said the source code for the libraries in the DPDK will be available for developers to freely use and modify for use in production network devices.
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