DPDK: Getting Ready for Network Primetime

By Jim St Leger, Software Product Line Manager, Intel

Today’s state of the art of network design is virtual infrastructure. Software Defined Networking (SDN) runs the cloud and data center, and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) defines the design of telecom networks. But this scenario was far from the case in 2010 when Intel released the first version of the Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK.)  Developed with virtualization in mind, DPDK was an early enabling technology for NFV (see the ETSI NFV Introductory White Paper) when the ETSI NFV ISG launched in 2012.


If you’re not familiar with DPDK, it is an open source software project that is focused on packet processing.  It was originally designed to accelerate data plane traffic, especially small 64B packets, running on standard high volume servers.  Over time that capability has been embraced for both SDN and NFV network architectures as well as native network equipment implementations. It has also spread well beyond the initial target market of telecom/datacom and into financial services, high performance computing, life sciences, and a myriad of other applications where traffic throughput improvements and efficiencies are desired.

The industry adoption and deployment of DPDK is rooted in the high performance results the software enables.  But the growth of the DPDK project is due to the open source software community. Since the start of the DPDK 1.7 release cycle in May 2014, there have been over 2,300 code commits from 151 unique committers.  And while Intel is the largest committer in the community, two thirds of the unique committers are non-Intel developers and engineers.  Companies like Cisco, Brocade, Red Hat, 6WIND, NEC, IBM, Mellanox, and many others have contributed code to the DPDK project.

To continue to grow both the DPDK project and the DPDK community, Intel has been sponsoring DPDK Summit events.  The first community gathering took place one year ago.  We followed that up with a China DPDK Summit event in April of this year.  Now we’re hosting the second US DPDK Summit (https://dpdksummit.com/) in San Francisco on August 17.  The one-day event will bring together DPDK contributors, DPDK consumers, and people who are looking to learn what the buzz around DPDK is all about.  The event is free and will include talks from HP, IBM Aspera Solutions, Intel, NTT Network Innovation Labs, RIFTio, and Sprint. The schedule has ample time for networking among the members of the DPDK community as well including an evening reception hosted by Intel® Network Builders.

If you want to learn more about the DPDK project, please join me and the DPDK community in San Francisco August 17.  I hope to see you there.

In the words of Steve Jobs, “One more thing…”  We will continue to bring DPDK Summit events to the community around the world.  After the San Francisco event, we will host DPDK Userspace 2015 in Dublin October 8-9 (following the Linux Foundation’s LinuxCon Europe Oct 5-7.)  If you want to stay on top of all the DPDK Summit community events please subscribe to the DPDK newsletter.  You’ll see the “Subscribe” section at the bottom right of the DPDK Summit homepage.