The Virtual Router Project

The Virtual Router Project is a three year EPSRC funded research project between University College London's Computer Science Department and Lancaster University's Computing Department. The project aims to investigate the design of virtual and distributed router platforms. Our central thesis is twofold: first, as PC performance continues to improve, it becomes reasonable (through careful virtualization of the device forwarding path) to simultaneously support several virtual routers on a single device; second, it also becomes reasonable to construct powerful, flexible and resilient routers from a cluster of commodity PCs. The following people are involved in the project.

Virtual Routers

For our purposes, we define a virtual router to be a router instance able to run concurrently with other instances using the same physical resources of a
virtual router platform. The idea of virtualising a router is not new; indeed, major router vendors offer variations on this theme that share a common binary control and data plane that filters packets to their corresponding virtual router instances. Unfortunately, this approach does not have the flexibility we desire, since data planes and control planes cannot be easily reprogrammed without sacrificing performance and isolation.

For research, there is a fine balance between performance and flexibility; specialist hardware is clearly needed for very high performance forwarding, but modern x86 hardware is actually remarkably capable and in principle provides arbitrary flexibility for different virtual routers to use completely different stacks. In this project we focus on such commodity hardware, and aim to cast light on the trade-off between performance, flexibility, isolation and fairness.

One of the driving philosophies behind our work is to provide the flexibility of virtualisation to routers whilst attempting to limit the overheads of virtualisations. In other words we aim to achieve as near to line rate performance as possible for routers running in a virtual environment.

Publications

[1] Norbert Egi, Adam Greenhalgh, Mark Handley, Mickael Hoerdt, Laurent Mathy, and Tim Schooley. Evaluating xen for router virtualization. In International Workshop on Performance Modeling and Evaluation (PMECT '07), August 2007.(pdf)(slides)
[2] Norbert Egi, Adam Greenhalgh, Mark Handley, Mickael Hoerdt, and Laurent Mathy. A flexible and performant virtual router. Poster in International Workshop on Self-Organizing Systems (IWSOS '07), September 2007.(poster)(abstract)
[3] Norbert Egi, Adam Greenhalgh, Mark Handley, Mickael Hoerdt, Felipe Huici, and Laurent Mathy. Fairness Issues in Software Virtual Routers Workshop on Programmable Routers for Extensible Services of TOmorrow (PRESTO '08), August 2008. (pdf) (slides,pdf)
[4] Norbert Egi, Adam Greenhalgh, Mark Handley, Mickael Hoerdt, Felipe Huici, and Laurent Mathy. Towards high performance virtual routers on commodity hardware ACM CoNEXT 2008, December 2008. (pdf) (slides,pdf)
[5] Norbert Egi, Adam Greenhalgh, Mark Handley, Mickael Hoerdt, Laurent Mathy, and Panagiotis Papadimitriou Designing a Platform for Flexible and Performant Virtual Routers on Commodity Hardware Invited Paper at GI/ITG Workshop on Overlay and Network Virtualization (NVWS'09), March 2009. (pdf) (slides,pdf)
[6] Norbert Egi, Adam Greenhalgh, Mickael Hoerdt, Felipe Huici, Panagiotis Papadimitriou, Mark Handley and Laurent Mathy. A Platform for High Performance and Flexible Virtual Routers on Commodity Hardware. Poster in (SIGCOMM '09), August 2009.(poster)(abstract) Runner-up Poster Award
[7] Norbert Egi, Adam Greenhalgh, Mark Handley, Mickael Hoerdt, Felipe Huici, Laurent Mathy and Panagiotis Papadimitriou. Commutation de paquets logicielle sur routeurs PC multi-coeurs. Colloque Francophone en Ingenierie des Protocoles (CFIP'09) , October 2009. (pdf) (slides,pdf)
[8] Norbert Egi, Adam Greenhalgh, Mark Handley, Mickael Hoerdt, Felipe Huici, Laurent Mathy and Panagiotis Papadimitriou. Implementing Software Virtual Routers on Multi-core PCs using Click First symposium on Click Modular Router , November 2009. (pdf) (slides,pdf) (video)

Technical Reports

[1] Norbert Egi, Adam Greenhalgh, Mark Handley, Mickael Hoerdt and Laurent Mathy. Towards High Performance Virtual Routers on Commodity Hardware. UCL CS Technical Report, RN-08-07, May 2008.(pdf)

Presentations

[1] Norbert Egi, Adam Greenhalgh, Mark Handley, Mickael Hoerdt, Laurent Mathy, and Tim Schooley. Using Xen For Router Virtualisation. In Multi-Service Networks (MSN '07), July 2007.(slides)