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NSERC Industrial Research Chair for High-Speed and Programmable Packet Processing
NSERC Industrial Research Chairs

Research areas description

The needs of the networking industry are exploding because of the ever-increasing link speeds (with 100 Gb/s links available and the 400 Gb/s links on the horizon), the requirements of recent protocols (like the upcoming 5G that imposes 1 ms maximum latency on critical tasks) and costs of deployed systems. This project will tackle two challenges. The first is to devise high-performance networking systems that are easy to configure and program and that have low power consumption in the current difficult context. The second is to support new and demanding applications like machine learning and 5G mobile communications that require a lot of computing power and low-latency communications. Thus, we want this Chair program to devise systems, software and algorithmic solutions for the next generation forwarding plane used in data centres. This improved programmability will allow systems to adapt more rapidly to changing needs of operators and industry. It will also provide an environment/platform/ecosystem for faster development of new network services.

The solutions are, first, to use language specific to the P4 domain for ease of configuring and programming the networking equipment–P4 stands for programming protocol-independent packet processors. It is an objective of the Chair to improve P4 to meet the needs of the envisioned systems. The second solution is to devise a low-latency hardware-centric forwarding protocol. This protocol will leverage the concepts of virtual-circuit switching and bandwidth allocation to enforce traffic management (policing, shaping, etc.) in such a way as to avoid complex (and slow) routing algorithms and to prevent congestion. Finally, a key aspect of current and future networks is traffic management. So, a third solution is to extend P4 to support traffic management.

The Chair and his collaborators have developed the set of expertise needed to pursue this research program. The Chair will have important structuring effects and will train many engineers with good P4 knowledge and skills for the Canadian industry.

Research interests

Expertise type(s) (NSERC subjects)
  • 2703 Complexity
  • 2704 Distributed and parallel processing
  • 2722 VLSI systems

Research staff

Professors / researchers (1)

External sources of funding

  • Intel Corporation
  • Kaloom
  • NoviFlow