Speeding up Open vSwitch with partial hardware offloading

Open vSwitch (OVS) can use the kernel datapath or the userspace datapath. There are interesting developments in the kernel datapath using hardware offloading through the TC Flower packet classifier, but in this article, the focus will be on the userspace datapath accelerated with the Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) and its new feature—partial flow hardware offloading—to accelerate the virtual switch even more.

This article explains how the virtual switch worked before versus now and why the new feature can potentially save resources while improving the packet processing rate.

Continue reading “Speeding up Open vSwitch with partial hardware offloading”

Share

Dynamic IP Address Management in Open Virtual Network (OVN): Part One

Some background

For those unfamiliar, Open Virtual Network (OVN) is a subproject of OpenVswitch (OVS), a performant programmable multi-platform virtual switch. OVN provides the ability to express an overlay network as a series of virtual routers and switches. OVN also provides native methods for setting up Access Control Lists (ACLs), and it functions as an OpenFlow switch, providing services such as DHCP. The components of OVN program OVS on each of the hypervisors in the network. Many of Red Hat’s products, such as Red Hat OpenStack Platform and Red Hat Virtualization, are now using OVN. Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform will be using OVN soon.

Looking around the internet, it’s pretty easy to find high-quality tutorials on the basics of OVN. However, when it comes to more-advanced topics, it sometimes feels like the amount of information is lacking. In this tutorial, we’ll examine dynamic addressing in OVN. You will learn about IP address management (IPAM) options in OVN and how to apply them.

Continue reading “Dynamic IP Address Management in Open Virtual Network (OVN): Part One”

Share

Troubleshooting Open vSwitch DPDK PMD Thread Core Affinity

The most common problem when people are trying to deploy an Open vSwitch with Data Plane Development Kit (OvS-DPDK) solution is that the performance is not as expected. For example, they are losing packets. This is where our journey for this series of blogs will start.

This first blog is about Poll Mode Driver (PMD) thread core affinity. It covers how to configure thread affinity and how to verify that it’s set up correctly. This includes making sure no other threads are using the CPU cores.

Continue reading “Troubleshooting Open vSwitch DPDK PMD Thread Core Affinity”

Share

Debugging Memory Issues with Open vSwitch DPDK

Introduction

This article is about debugging out-of-memory issues with Open vSwitch with the Data Plane Development Kit (OvS-DPDK). It explains the situations in which you can run out of memory when using OvS-DPDK and it shows the log entries that are produced in those circumstances. It also shows some other log entries and commands for further debugging.

When you finish reading this article, you will be able to identify that you have an out-of-memory issue and you’ll know how to fix it. Spoiler: Usually having some more memory on the relevant NUMA node works. It is based on OvS 2.9.

Continue reading “Debugging Memory Issues with Open vSwitch DPDK”

Share

Non-root Open vSwitch in RHEL

In a few weeks, the Fast Datapath Production channel will update the Open vSwitch version from the 2.7 series to the 2.9 series. This is an important change in more ways than one. A wealth of new features and fixes all related to packet movement will come into play. One that will surely be blamed for all your troubles will be the integration of the `–ovs-user` flag to allow for an unprivileged user to interact with Open vSwitch.

Running as root can solve a lot of pesky problems. Want to write to an arbitrary file? No problem. Want to load kernel modules? Go for it! Want to sniff packets on the wire? Have a packet dump. All of these are great when the person commanding the computer is the rightful owner. But the moment the person in front of the keyboard isn’t the rightful owner, problems occur.

Continue reading “Non-root Open vSwitch in RHEL”

Share

Open vSwitch-DPDK: How Much Hugepage Memory?

Introduction

In order to maximize performance of the Open vSwitch DPDK datapath, it pre-allocates hugepage memory. As a user you are responsible for telling Open vSwitch how much hugepage memory to pre-allocate. The question of exactly what value to use often arises. The answer is, it depends.

There is no simple answer as it depends on things like the MTU size of the ports, the MTU differences between ports, and whether those ports are on the same NUMA node. Just to complicate things a bit more, there are multiple overheads, and alignment and rounding need to be accounted for at various places in OVS-DPDK. Everything clear? OK, you can stop reading then!
However, if not, read on.

Continue reading “Open vSwitch-DPDK: How Much Hugepage Memory?”

Share

A Practical Introduction to Container Terminology

You might think containers seem like a pretty straightforward concept, so why do I need to read about container terminology? In my work as a container technology evangelist, I’ve encountered misuse of container terminology that causes people to stumble on the road to mastering containers. Terms like containers and images are used interchangeably, but there are important conceptual differences. In the world of containers, repository has a different meaning than what you’d expect. Additionally, the landscape for container technologies is larger than just docker. Without a good handle on the terminology, It can be difficult to grasp the key differences between docker and (pick your favorites, CRI-O, rkt, lxc/lxd) or understand what the Open Container Initiative is doing to standardize container technology.

Background

It is deceptively simple to get started with Linux Containers. It takes only a few minutes to install a container engine like docker and run your first commands. Within another few minutes, you are building your first container image and sharing it. Next, you begin the familiar process of architecting a production-like container environment, and have the epiphany that it’s necessary to understand a lot of terminology and technology behind the scenes. Worse, many of the following terms are used interchangeably… often causing quite a bit of confusion for newcomers.

  • Container
  • Image
  • Container Image
  • Image Layer
  • Registry
  • Repository
  • Tag
  • Base Image
  • Platform Image
  • Layer

Understanding the terminology laid out in this technical dictionary will provide you a deeper understanding of the underlying technologies. This will help you and your teams speak the same language and also provide insight into how to better architect your container environment for the goals you have. As an industry and wider community, this deeper understanding will enable us to build new architectures and solutions. Note, this technical dictionary assumes that the reader already has an understanding of how to run containers. If you need a primer, try starting with  A Practical Introduction to Docker Containers on the Red Hat Developer Blog.

Continue reading “A Practical Introduction to Container Terminology”

Share

Automated Open vSwitch PVP testing

This blog describes how a script can be used to automate Open vSwitch PVP testing. The goal for this PVP script was to have a quick (and dirty) way to verify the performance (change) of an Open vSwitch (DPDK) setup. This script either works with a Xena Networks traffic generator or the T-Rex Realistic Traffic Generator. For details on what the PVP test does, please refer to the following blog post, Measuring and comparing Open vSwitch performance.

Continue reading “Automated Open vSwitch PVP testing”

Share