P4-enabled Smart NIC: Enabling Sliceable and Service-Driven Optical Data Centres

Yan Yan, Arash Farhadi Beldachi, Reza Nejabati, Dimitra Simeonidou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
592 Downloads (Pure)


This article reports an FPGA-based P4-enabled Smart NIC solution which is designed and implemented for web-scale cloud and to meet 5G/beyond 5G networking requirements. The P4-enabled Smart NIC solution leverages the open standards, platforms and software-defined approaches, responds to the real time Data Centre Networking service requests, in particularly, enables the end-to-end network slicing, which is one of the critical requirements of a multi-tenancy 5G network. We discussed the possibilities and challenges of P4 specification implementation in the FPGA to realise the Smart NIC functionalities. And after that, we showed its data plane programmability and flexibility with P4 features. Furthermore, we demonstrated its application scenario in an 5G environment mainly focusing on edge Data Centre to core Data Centre network slicing. The setup interconnects the P4-enabled Smart NIC with optical Bandwidth Variable Transponders, and the system offers agile 100 Gbps interface to transport the packets through P4-defined data plane for L2/L3/L4 parsing and action. The P4-enabled Smart NIC can change the data plane pipelines in seconds, and it can achieve maximum 84.8 Gbps throughput. With P4 programmed hardware offloaded Segment Routing can produce 30% more bandwidth than without.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2688 - 2694
JournalJournal of Lightwave Technology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • P4
  • Smart NIC
  • Network Slicing
  • 5G


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