Electronic Design

High Availability And Differentiated Services Come To Network Processors

The network processing forum (NPF), an international industry consortium of networking semiconductor, software, and OEM equipment manufacturers, has added two new implementation agreements (IAs) to its growing list of network-processor standards and guidelines.

According to the NPF, this story is about "dis-aggregation," which involves dissecting telecommunications equipment into specific sections and then carefully defining and documenting the hardware and software interfaces. IAs are "box-level" documents that describe various subsets of the equipment and how they're linked to one another. These IAs have done more than anything to spur the development of networking equipment using commercial network processors in lieu of the high-cost, long time-to-market ASIC approach.

The new IAs, the HA Architectural Model and Framework and the HA Service API, define High Availability (HA) features. The HA Architectural Model IA outlines the additions that are needed to build highly available systems within the confines of the NPF software framework. The specification describes what types of interfaces are needed and how they will exchange information with each other and the existing NPF software application-programming interfaces (APIs). This IA also introduces how the Service Availability Forum API can be integrated into the NPF HA middleware. The HA Service API IA defines the data structures and required data types of an operational API that HA-aware applications will use to send HA parameters to other NPF software APIs.

Together, these IAs delineate how HA systems will function within the NPF software environment. They facilitate the development of systems based on flexible and programmable network-processing technologies that will deliver the appropriate HA capabilities.

With the Differentiated Services API IA, applications can communicate quality-of-service (QoS) parameters to network-processing elements, resulting in differentiated classes of service for IP traffic. The IP provides programming and interfaces to specify Diffserv Behavioral Aggregates. The API, designed for the management of Diffserv policies and QoS objects, defines how to specify filters, how to query Diffserv capability profiles, and how to gather Diffserv related statistics. With this specification, customers can implement Diffserv service-level agreements in a standardized manner. As the number of these standard APIs grows, more system OEMs will find that the return-on-investment of using networking processing technologies becomes increasingly compelling.

Check out the full line of IAs at the Network Processing Forum's Web site.

Network Processing Forum

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