Efficient End-Host Architecture for High Performance Communication Using User-level Sandboxing
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Current low-level networking abstractions on modern operating systems are commonly implemented in the kernel to provide sufficient performance for general purpose applications. However, it is desirable for high performance applications to have more control over the networking subsystem to support optimizations for their specific needs. One approach is to allow networking services to be implemented at user-level. Unfortunately, this typically incurs costs due to scheduling overheads and unnecessary data copying via the kernel. In this paper, we describe a method to implement efficient application-specific network service extensions at user-level, that removes the cost of scheduling and provides protected access to lower-level system abstractions. We present a networking implementation that, with minor modifications to the Linux kernel, passes data between "sandboxed" extensions and the Ethernet device without copying or processing in the kernel. Using this mechanism, we put a customizable networking stack into a user-level sandbox and show how it can be used to efficiently process and forward data via proxies, or intermediate hosts, in the communication path of high performance data streams. Unlike other user-level networking implementations, our method makes no special hardware requirements to avoid unnecessary data copies. Results show that we achieve a substantial increase in throughput over comparable user-space methods using our networking stack implementation.