The First Asia-Pacific Workshop on Networking (APNet’17) Invited Talk:

Implementing ClickNP: Highly Flexible and High-Performance Network Processing with FPGA+CPU

Abstract: ClickNP is a highly flexible and high-performance network processing platform with reconfigurable hardware, published in SIGCOMM’16. This talk will share our implementation experience of the ClickNP system, both before and after paper submission. Throughout 8 months, we developed 100 elements and 5 network functions for the SIGCOMM paper, resulting in 1K commits and 20K lines of code. After the paper submission, ClickNP continues to develop and extends to a general-purpose FPGA programming framework in our research team, resulting in 300 elements, 86 application projects and 80K lines of code.

(1) Although with high-level languages, programming FPGA is still much more challenging than CPU. We had hard times to understand the behavior and pitfalls of black-box compilers, and shared our findings by enforcing coding style in the ClickNP language design and providing optimizations in the ClickNP compiler.

(2) OpenCL host to kernel communication model is a poor fit for network processing. This talk will elaborate internals of the high performance communication channel between CPU and FPGA.

(3) FPGA compilation takes hours, run-time debugging is hard, and simulation is inaccurate. For case study, we show how we identified and resolved a deadlock bug in the L4 load balancer, leveraging ClickNP debugging functionalities.

[Conference Website] [Slides]