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A P4-based 5G User Plane Function

Author(s): MacDavid, Robert; Cascone, Carmelo; Lin, Pingping; Padmanabhan, Badhrinath; Thakur, Ajay; et al

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Abstract: The demands on mobile networks are constantly evolving, but designing and integrating new high-speed packet processing remains a challenge due to the complexity of requirements and opacity of protocol specifications. 5G data planes should be implemented in programmable hardware for both speed and flexibility, and extending or replacing these data planes should be painless. In this paper we implement the 5G data plane using two P4 programs: one that acts as a open-source model data plane to simplify the interface with the control plane, and one to run efficiently on hardware switches to minimize latency and maximize bandwidth. The model data plane enables testing changes made to the control plane before integrating with a performant data plane, and vice versa. The hardware data plane implements the fast path for device traffic, and makes use of microservices to implement functions that highspeed switch hardware cannot do. Our data plane implementation is currently in limited deployment on three university campuses where it is enabling new research on mobile networks.
Publication Date: Oct-2021
Citation: MacDavid, Robert, Cascone, Carmelo, Lin, Pingping, Padmanabhan, Badhrinath, Thakur, Ajay, Peterson, Larry, Rexford, Jennifer and Sunay, Oguz. "A P4-based 5G User Plane Function." Proceedings of the ACM SIGCOMM Symposium on SDN Research (SOSR) (2021): 162-168. doi:10.1145/3482898.3483358
DOI: 10.1145/3482898.3483358
Pages: 162 - 168
Type of Material: Conference Article
Series/Report no.: SOSR '21;
Journal/Proceeding Title: Proceedings of the ACM SIGCOMM Symposium on SDN Research (SOSR)
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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