Please visit Jefferson Lab Event Policies and Guidance before planning your next event:
May 8 – 12, 2023
Norfolk Waterside Marriott
US/Eastern timezone

P4flow: A software-defined networking approach with programmable switches for accounting and forwarding IPv6 packets with user-defined flow label tags

May 9, 2023, 5:30 PM
Marriott Ballroom IV (Norfolk Waterside Marriott)

Marriott Ballroom IV

Norfolk Waterside Marriott

235 East Main Street Norfolk, VA 23510
Oral Track 7 - Facilities and Virtualization Track 7 - Facilities and Virtualization


Misa Moreira, Carmen (CERN)


A comprehensive analysis of the HEP (High Energy Physics) experiment traffic across LHCONE (Large Hadron Collider Open Network Environment) and other networks, is essential for immediate network optimisation (for example by the NOTED project) and highly desirable for long-term network planning. Such an analysis requires two steps: tagging of network packets to indicate the type and owner of the traffic being carried and then processing of the tagged packets. The RNTWG (Research Network Technical Working Group) has defined a specification to identify the experiment and the application that originates a given network flow, named scitags (Scientific Network Tags) that is applied to the flow label field of the IPv6 header, this is being reported elsewhere at this conference. We report here on the second step: our processing of packets tagged according to this specification.

We developed P4flow as a software-defined networking approach by using P4 (Programming Protocol-Independent Packet Processors), a language for programming the data plane of network devices to accounting and process IPv6 packets with a scitags-based stamp in the flow label field, to understand the network utilisation and the applications used by the WLCG (Worldwide Large Hadron Collider Computing Grid) sites. With P4$_{\text{flow}}$, and exploiting the control plane capabilities provided by RARE/freeRtr (an Open Source Network Operating System developed by the GÉANT community), we can not only generate statistics concerning the traffic per experiment and application but can also, using an Intel Tofino P4-programmable ASIC Ethernet Switch, decide how to forward traffic matching defined flow labels. This latter capability is particularly interesting as we prepare for a future where LHC experiments will be sharing network links with other major science collaborations such as, for example, SKA.

Consider for long presentation Yes

Primary authors

Presentation materials

Peer reviewing