Electronic Design

New Benchmarks Evaluate Network Processing Components

The Network Processor Forum (NPF) has released two new benchmarking implementation agreements (IAs) to help line-card and networking equipment manufacturers test, evaluate, and compare different network processors and related components. The IAs define open, objective, and reproducible tests; configurations; and reporting formats that help designers evaluate competitive products and design configurations.

One of the IAs extends its IP forwarding benchmark to include the IPv6 Internet Protocol. This revision permits testing of IPv4, IPv6, and mixed IPv4/IPv6 forwarding performance. The new IA also adds a more robust set of routing tables. The tests include data plane tests, control plane tests, and concurrent data and control plane tests.

The other recent addition is a pair of IAs for testing switch fabrics. One defines the rules and working procedures to be used for fabric benchmarking. The methodology describes how the fabric customer should provide testing requirements and how the fabric customer and fabric vendor should provide system configuration. The other IA details the actual tests and reporting formats.

Tests are divided into hardware benchmarks, arbitration benchmarks, and multicast benchmarks. The three main performance metrics are latency, accepted versus offered bandwidth, and jitter. Vendors whose products pass the benchmarks may use the term NPF Certified to validate performance that ensures compliance with the NPF specifications.

The NPF is an international industry consortium of network equipment, semiconductor, and software manufacturers whose aim is to accelerate the adoption of network processing technologies. For details, go to www.npforum.org.

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