Barefoot, Fox Demo Programmable Forwarding For Broadcast Networks

Demo focuses on Barefoot's Tofino-powered switch and P4-programmable forward plane technology in a SMPTE 2110 environment
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GENEVA, SWITZERLAND—Barefoot Networks and Fox Networks are demonstrating the application of Barefoot’s 6.5Tb/s Tofino switch ASIC and P4 language for use in broadcast media networks at the EBU Network Seminar, June 19-20.

The demonstration shows how Barefoot's P4-programmable forwarding plane technology and Tofino-powered switch enable the forward plane to perform packet processing functions to parse SMPTE ST 2110-20 headers and dynamically compose video from output that is switched using Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) timestamp and video row number.

"As broadcast media transmission increasingly becomes packetized with Live IP technology, having a programmable forwarding plane is crucial for enabling a rich set of network applications," said Thomas Edwards, vice president of engineering and development at Fox Networks. "With Tofino and P4, we've been able to implement custom forwarding plane functions to make intelligent switching decisions on media streams by looking into packet headers and applying rules that enable us to increase the performance and efficiency of our IP production infrastructure."

Programmable forward plane technology enables complete switch flexibility in terms of manipulating packets and making forwarding decisions. P4-programmable forwarding planes make possible use-cases that are not possible with fixed-function switching silicon, Barefoot Networks said.

This enables users to create simple and scalable packet processing pipelines to meet their specific needs. Products such as Barefoot’s Tofino make it possible for network owners and operators to build new functions and features at the forwarding plane-level and thus derive more value from their networks.

The EBU Network Technology Seminar demo builds on last year’s presentation, which showed how Fox Networks used a Barefoot Tofino switch. For this year’s demo, Fox Networks used the open-source P4 program to implement the forward plane logic. It is open-sourcing its P4 code for other use cases, including RTP header field-based packet forwarding and load balancing as well as Network Address Translation to multicast-replicated packets.

The demo is being supported by open networking experts at STORDIS, which is supplying a 64-port 100GB bare-metal switch powered by the 6.5Tb/s capacity Tofino ASIC.

EBU NTS is taking place June 19-20 from 8:30 a.m. till 6 p.m. at L'Ancienne-Route 17A, CH-1218 Grand Saconnex, Geneva. The demo can be seen at the STORDIS table in the Courchevel room on the 1st floor.

More information is available on the Barefoot Networks website