After years of working together on a variety of advanced networking technologies, the Network Processing Forum (NPF) and the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) decided to merge on June 1. There was a huge overlap in the work they were doing, and their interests coincided with those of the many common members they shared. The new organization retains the OIF designation.
The OIF was founded in 1998. Many carriers, component and equipment manufacturers, and system vendors are members. It works with national and international standards groups such as the ITU, IEEE, and IETF to accelerate the deployment of interoperable, reliable, and cost-effective optical networks and related technology.
Members work in groups to create Implementation Agreements (IAs) that define hardware and software configurations that all members can agree upon. The IAs provide a common set of guidelines outside of the regular standards that guide manufacturers in developing compatible equipment and software.
The NPF was founded in 2001 during that initial flurry of network processor developments. Its objective was to speed the adoption of network processing units into telecommunications equipment. The NPF’s IAs covered interfaces, benchmarks, and other technologies common to the members.
The synergy between the members of the two organizations brings greater depth and breadth to the new organization. This should boost the speed and quality of the resulting IAs. For example, the OIF approved the new Time Division Multiplex Protocol (TDM-P) IA in May. It describes a Sonet/SDH-like backplane interface protocol useful in Sonet/SDH cross-connects.
The TDM-P IA aggregates multiple TDM fabric-to-framer (TFI-5) signals into higher rates (x2, x4) like those identified in the Common Electrical Interface (CEI) and CEI Protocol (CEI-P) specifications. The TDM protocol is expected to provide higher data rates that enable systems to support higher throughput within the same physical space.
More recently, the OIF announced six new IAs based on earlier NPF work. These IAs are essentially software interfaces, not the software itself. They include the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Accelerator Service IA, which specifies a set of Services application programming interfaces (APIs) for hardware that offload and accelerate the processing of SSL. The second IA is the Switch Address Generator ATM Logical Functional Block (LFB) and Functional API IA.
Two previously announced IAs, the TCP Proxy Application Level Benchmark and the corresponding Reporting Template, define the functions to test. But these functional benchmarks don’t include code. All four IAs complete a suite of 14 NPF software ATM APIs for supporting the implementation of ATM interfaces on network processing equipment.
Network Processing Forum
Optical Internetworking Forum