Editor’s note: This post is a part of our “member spotlight” series that highlights the P4-related activities of various P4 Language Consortium members. It is based on an interview with Netcope’s CTO Viktor Puš.
Please tell us a bit about Netcope.
Netcope is a group of FPGA enthusiasts on a mission to bring the performance and power efficiency of FPGAs to developers who are not FPGA experts. Netcope’s main product is a cloud-hosted P4-to-FPGA compiler that enables P4 developers to run their code efficiently on a variety of FPGA platforms including 10/25/40/100 Gbps smart NICs and embedded architectures.
Can you tell us more about your P4 product?
The Netcope P4 compiler is a cloud service with an easy-to-use web interface. To compile a P4 program, the user simply uploads their code and selects a hardware target. When synthesis completes, the user downloads the generated bitstream, and loads it onto the FPGA. That’s it! They get fully custom packet processing at line rate and interoperability with existing control planes via a P4 Runtime management interface.
What was Netcope’s motivation for joining the P4 Language Consortium?
When we started working on a P4 compiler backend for FPGAs, it was natural for us to join the consortium and work with other members to deliver programmability across as many hardware targets as possible.
What are some of the benefits you see for increased network programmability?
We believe that putting network architects in charge of the data plane rather than vendors is a game changer for the networking industry. The innovation cycle gets shorter and the lifetime of hardware is increased, since it can be easily repurposed for different applications. In addition, there are new use cases that are being enabled by programmability of forwarding plane, such as inband network telemetry.
How is Netcope involved with P4 community efforts?
Netcope continues to work closely with the P4 community. Our primary effort is to demonstrate various use cases using P4-programmable FPGA platforms and contribute code of such use case to the community. Netcope is also a regular attendee and sponsor of P4 workshops. During the last P4 workshop in May 2018, Netcope participated in three different demos showing the great flexibility and fitness of P4 to different use cases including server-side segment routing, OvS acceleration, and inband network telemetry.