Adaptive SmartNIC Offloading for Unleashing the Performance of Protocol-Oblivious Forwarding

Qian Zhang, Nirwan Ansari, Zuqing Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The growth of Internet-of-Things (IoT) has led to the convergence of heterogeneous networking systems powered by various protocols, and consequently the emergence of protocol-independent packet processing based on programmable data plane (PDP) for IoT. In this work, we study how to leverage the hardware acceleration enabled by offloading flow tables to SmartNIC to improve the performance of software PDP switches based on protocol-oblivious forwarding (POF). We design our SmartNIC offloading system (namely, OVS-POF-TC) based on the Linux kernel traffic classification (TC) system and Open vSwitch (OVS), extend OVS to enable the installation of POF-based flow tables (POF-FTs) in a SmartNIC, and design a selective offloading mechanism for purposely offloading heavy-load POF-FTs. Our experimental results indicate that OVS-POF-TC offloads and updates POF-FTs timely, supports runtime programmability, and has improved packet processing throughput by 1.52× and 3.82×, when applying POF-FTs with SetField and AddField to packets, respectively. Moreover, to ensure that OVS-POF-TC can offload and replace POF-FTs adaptively, we formulate two mixed integer linear programming (MILP) models to respectively solve the problems of flow placement and flow replacement, and also design time-efficient heuristics for them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages1
JournalIEEE Internet of Things Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Signal Processing
  • Information Systems
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications


  • Internet of Things
  • Open vSwitch (OVS)
  • Optical fibers
  • Programmable data plane (PDP)
  • Protocol-oblivious forwarding (POF)
  • Protocols
  • Runtime
  • SmartNIC
  • Software
  • Switches
  • Throughput


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