Extreme innovation in how services are delivered to users and the insatiable demand for bandwidth and performance are causing networks to undergo tectonic shifts in how they are designed built and operated. A fixed-function switch ASIC is no longer a viable option for building the networks of the future. A programmable forwarding plane that doesn’t compromise on performance is key to unlocking revolutionary value from the network.
Barefoot Tofino is the world’s first end-user programmable Ethernet switch. It is built using a Protocol Independent Switch Architecture (PISA) and is P4-programmable. Tofino gives network designers the power of the Protocol-Independent Switch Architecture (PISA). The PISA architecture was developed to provide powerful programmability.
Tofino is fully programmable because the forwarding logic resides in the P4 program that the network operator or switch manufacturer loads on the chip; it's not baked into the silicon. Tofino is protocol independent because the chip has no awareness of the network protocols it supports. Instead, the P4 program provides the logic for handling all supported protocols. When support for a new protocol is required, the network operator or switch manufacturer simply adds new logic to the P4 program.
The following SKUs are available in the Tofino family:
- 65 x 100GE
- 65 x 40GE
- 130 x 50GE
- 130 x 40GE (via gearbox)
- 260 x 25GE
- 260 x 10GE
- 33 x 100GE
- 33 x 40GE
- 66 x 50GE
- 66 x 40GE (via gearbox)
- 132 x 25GE
- 132 x 10GE
- 48 x 25GE + 13 x 100GE
- 48 x 10GE + 13 x 40GE
- 96 x 10GE + 9 x 40GE
- 24 x 40GE + 9 x 100GE
- 48 x 25GE + 7 x 100GE
- 48 x 10GE + 7 x 40GE
Tofino delivers programmability with no compromise on performance. It even matches fixed function switch ASIC on power consumption and price. With Tofino, deploying a new packet processing feature at the forwarding plane is akin to doing a software upgrade. New features can be developed and deployed at the speed of software.
Tofino also supports a rich set of visibility and telemetry features enabling users to achieve per-packet visibility thereby quickly debugging and fixing problems in the network. Tofino can be programmed using P4 to export metadata in various formats and through various channels - in-band, out-of-band, postcards etc. giving options to the network administrator to unlock visibility in a manner suitable to their network.
Tofino’s programmable pipeline and memories allow for packet lookup table scale that is unmatched. Instead of buying expensive switch ASICs with external lookup table memory, a majority of table scale requirements can be met using Tofino.
Tofino can also perform stateful operations in the forwarding plane delivering performance and freeing up the control plane CPU to perform other tasks. Network owners can benefit from using Tofino to perform middle-box functions in addition to regular switching and routing functions.
In summary, Tofino and P4 give the keys to the network to its owners. Enjoy the freedom to drive and control the destiny of your network.