1 May 2003 Las Vegas, NV Lightwave -- Establishing common and open network processing software interface specifications, the Network Processing Forum (NPF) today announced the release of the IPv4 Unicast Forwarding Service Application Programming Interface (API) Implementation Agreement (IA). The IA was unveiled at the Network Processing Summit, a special education session of NetWorld+Interop 2003 in Las Vegas.
The IA will enable the development of complete IPv4 forwarding software solutions from independent software and network processor vendors. The specification will also greatly simplify the difficult task system OEMs face migrating their existing control-plane software to network processor-based systems, explain forum representatives.
"This new API will significantly reduce the 'time-to-packet' development time for System OEMs," asserts Misha Nossik, chair of the NPF board of directors. "This API is built upon the NPF software framework, which we introduced last year. We plan to continue to build on this framework by introducing additional service-level APIs, such as MPLS."
The IPv4 Unicast Forwarding Service API specification describes Service API definitions for IPv4 unicast forwarding and address resolution. The API function details include input/output parameters, return code specifications, and detailed usage notes specific to each invocation. The specification also includes details regarding the handling of asynchronous events and expected responses from API function invocations, including specifications for completion callback and event handler routine registration and deregistration.
A key feature of the NPF IPv4 Unicast Forwarding Service API Implementation Agreement is its flexibility, says the forum. It contains both unified and discrete mode versions of the API, which enables optimal implementations on a wide range of networking platforms. This includes everything from enterprise-class switches and routers to carrier-class core IP routers.
The unified mode is most appropriate for cost-constrained designs. In cases where the network processing unit architecture presents a single-table interface, the unified mode API eliminates the need for redundant middleware tables. This can save on platform memory requirements and cost.
The discrete mode API supports implementations with multiple disaggregated tables. When using a network processing unit with a multiple-table architecture, separate calls to the discrete-mode API will reduce processing overhead. This is critical in implementations with dense high-end platforms that have hundreds or thousands of interfaces.
Once implemented, the performance of a network processor-based system, utilizing the IPv4 Unicast Forwarding Service API, can easily be measured with the NPF IPv4 Benchmark IA that was released in August of last year. The benchmark enables design engineers to compare the performance of the various IPv4 Unicast Forwarding Service API implementations with open, objective, and reproducible tests.
"The IPv4 Forwarding API Implementation Agreement simplifies the integration of common functions and enables the development of software solutions in parallel with hardware," adds Bernie Keany, NPF software working group vice-chair. "This enables system OEMs to focus on their core competencies and leverage third party hardware and software components for standard capabilities. This environment will provide new entrants and established vendors with numerous new business opportunities."
The IPv4 Unicast Forwarding Service API Implementation Agreement is available for free on the NPF web site at www.npforum.org/techinfo/approved.shtml.