Accelerate Packet Processing with Ampere Platforms and DPDK

Frank Wang, Director of Software Development

In our continued commitment to embracing Linux open source communities, Ampere has verified and validated the Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) to accelerate network performance when using Ampere processor platforms. DPDK is an open source project managed by the Linux Foundation that provides dataplane libraries and NIC drivers that increase computing efficiency and packet throughput.

The objective of DPDK is to accelerate network performance by directly transferring packets from the NIC to the application within user space, bypassing the kernel network stack. DPDK performance highly depends on architectural features like processor core performance, memory access latency, I/O throughput, and other technologies to avoid unnecessary overhead and to increase performance, e.g, huge page, Non Uniform Memory Access (NUMA). Ampere’s unique architecture with single-threaded cores, large dedicated L1 and L2 caches, and high memory bandwidth drives exceptional scaling of DPDK performance.

By enabling extremely fast packet processing, DPDK can enable performance-sensitive applications like the 5G backbone for mobile networks to improve content delivery networks (CDN), and move voice to a cloud-based infrastructure. Selecting the right hardware to unleash the full potential of 5G is critical. Combined with network virtualization technologies like Open vSwitch, DPDK accelerates traffic from network interface cards into virtual machines (VMs) and containers. As a key component in any cloud infrastructure, DPDK is a major enabler for the move to a cloud-native network architecture.

For our partners and customers using containerization, virtualization, and software defined networking, Ampere’s support for DPDK gives them the confidence that they can achieve high networking performance on Ampere platforms. As the move to cloud- native platforms advances, there are continuing opportunities to further improve performance on innovative platforms like Ampere® Altra™. We look forward to supporting the upstream communities to enhance that effort.

At Ampere, we did initial testing using testpmd, which is a performance testing application shipped as part of the DPDK kit.  The testpmd application can be used to test the DPDK in a packet forwarding mode (and is related to packet size). The smaller the packet size, the more difficult it is to achieve 100% line rate (i.e., forward packet without packet loss). On running the test, DPDK starts a polling thread on each CPU which uses 100% of the CPU resources and the packet forwarding performance increases with the number of polling threads (or the number of CPU cores used). Our test results reveal that we achieved the desired line rates.

Ampere eMAG® DPDK testpmd throughput

Using 2 x 10Gb ports, Ampere eMAG achieves full line rate from 64B to 1518B packet size as shown in the graph above. During this effort, mainstream NIC cards such as Intel X710-DA4 worked seamlessly just out of the box. We will be releasing results from our latest Ampere Altra platform later this year.

To learn more about configuring and running DPDK on specific Ampere platforms, contact our Software Development & Testing team at

Related Post