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High Level Synthesis for Packet Processing Pipelines

Soviani, Cristian

Packet processing is an essential function of state-of-the-art network routers and switches. Implementing packet processors in pipelined architectures is a well-known, established technique, albeit different approaches have been proposed. The design of packet processing pipelines is a delicate trade-off between the desire for abstract specifications, short development time, and design maintainability on one hand and very aggressive performance requirements on the other. This thesis proposes a coherent design flow for packet processing pipelines. Like the design process itself, I start by introducing a novel domain-specific language that provides a high-level specification of the pipeline. Next, I address synthesizing this model and calculating its worst-case throughput. Finally, I address some specific circuit optimization issues. I claim, based on experimental results, that my proposed technique can dramatically improve the design process of these pipelines, while the resulting performance matches the expectations of hand-crafted design. The considered pipelines exhibit a pseudo-linear topology, which can be too restrictive in the general case. However, especially due to its high performance, such an architecture may be suitable for applications outside packet processing, in which case some of my proposed techniques could be easily adapted. Since I ran my experiments on FPGAs, this work has an inherent bias towards that technology; however, most results are technology-independent.

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Academic Units
Computer Science
Publisher
Department of Computer Science, Columbia University
Series
Columbia University Computer Science Technical Reports, CUCS-041-07
Published Here
April 27, 2011