by Jennifer Rexford and Nick McKeown

 

Following the strong turnout for the 1st P4 Workshop in June, we held the 2nd P4 Workshop on November 18 at Stanford University. Like last time, the workshop was heavily oversubscribed again: All 200 tickets sold out three weeks in advance and 98% showed up on the day.  

 

Talks and Speakers

You can find the agenda and most of the slides on the workshop web page. We had over 20 speakers covering a broad range of topics, including:

 

  • Changhoon Kim (Barefoot):  Chang leads the P4 design meetings and gave an update on where the P4 language is heading. He unveiled the latest P4 v1.1 spec, which is now available as a pre-release version (“release candidate”). Chang also listed some of the big upcoming topics for the P4 design group, to help developers write P4 code that is portable across different platforms.  
  • Folks with big networks:
    • Amin Vahdat (Google Fellow, and head of networking at Google) talked about the importance of silicon independence, and how P4 can help us accomplish this goal.
    • Najam Ahmad (oversees Facebook’s global network infrastructure) talked about the importance of quick, automated fault-diagnosis in his network, including the rapid addition of new measurement capabilities to gain greater visibility into the networking forwarding plane.
    • Ken Duell (AVP of New Technology Product Development & Engineering at AT&T) described how his team is writing and deploying P4 programs in their existing network equipment, to increase visibility into the forwarding plane. AT&T is also using P4 to specify forwarding behavior in an RFC. Ken emphasized how important it will be for P4 programs to be portable.
  • Folks developing P4 platforms:
    • Gordon Brebner (Xilinx) explained Xilinx’s interest and investment in P4 as a way to specify how packets should be processed in FPGAs.
    • Johann Tönsing (Netronome) described how Netronome uses P4 to define how packets are processed in a programmable NIC.
    • Ben Mack-Crane (Corsa) described Corsa’s P4 compiler, which builds on the open-source HLIR compiler, for their programmable dataplane systems.

 

P4 Demos

Fifteen demos showed a variety of P4 targets running P4 code; ranging from P4 as a front end for Open vSwitch (OVS), to P4 as a front end to FPGA-based routers.

 

 

Feedback and Future Events

We would love to get your thoughts on the event. Feedback helps us pick the best content, and to invite the best speakers. If you have ANY thoughts at all on the direction of future events, please send an email to p4@p4.org – we will use your ideas to help us shape future events.  Don’t hesitate to suggest improvements on the facilities, the speaker topics, the demos: anything.  

 

We’d particularly like to solicit your feedback on our hosting an event focused on developers: where people writing P4 code and tools can come together to work through problems and get ideas for future projects.  We are thinking of holding a P4 tutorial at the same event (perhaps the day before) to help new developers get started with P4. If you’d like to volunteer to help, let us know.

 

If you have any other thoughts or want to start a more general discussion with other members of the P4 community, we encourage you to post at p4-discuss@p4.org (subscribe if you haven’t already).  

 

Thanks to our sponsors

Because membership in P4.org is free, we don’t have funds to pay for events. We are therefore very grateful to the five sponsors – Netronome, Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, and Barefoot – who enabled us to run the workshop at a world-class facility while keeping the cost low for attendees.

 

Thanks again to everyone who attended, spoke, and demonstrated. See you at the next P4 event in 2016.

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