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Aaron Glenn on the P4 programming language

Aaron Glenn on the P4 programming language

Aaron Glenn, network enthusiast and managing director of AAGICo Berlin UG, talks to Ethan Banks and Drew Conry-Murray of Packet Pushers about the innovative and beneficial deployment of P4 within Open Networking infrastructures. Aaron gives a profound, in-depth insight into the programming language, explains in detail how P4 works, and presents use cases.

P4 (programming protocol-independent packet processors) is a domain-specific language which is used to specify the packet behavior and unambiguously define the forwarding plane regardless of the underlying hardware, while the program defines the packet headers and the processing logic. It enables the reconfiguration of parsing and the processing, while the hardware (target), which can be an ASIC, an FPGA or a NIC, acts as a compiler, providing information and instructions via match-action tables.

Although P4 might appear to be a general-purpose programming language, it is not; neither is it a successor of OpenFlow. In general, it doesn’t provide the abstraction to create packets due to its boundaries to computation and memory consumption, and it only specifically enables the user to modify the packets on a very low level (from Layer 2 to Layer 4). It can represent any packet forwarding behavior, not only for Barefoot Tofino, which is also the first hardware switching ASIC that natively supports P4.

In the presentation, Aaron explains the program and architectures, the main components of a P4 program, and how it functions within the network environment. He illustrates the essential elements of P4 and various use cases of P4Runtime, the control plane interface to P4 for fixed-functions devices. He conlcuded with how to get access to P4 and provides valuable web links to online tutorials.

Packet Pushers

Packet Pushers is an independent community of IT practitioners and vendors who provide focused, profound and practical content covering networking, data center design, virtualization, and general technology trends. The community is primarily built around a successful podcast (up to 250K downloads per month), but they also operate a blog and a forum to share practical and technical information and evaluation. A major part of the work relies on sponsorship, enabling the members to perform essential research and ensure valuable and high-grade content.

STORDIS Advanced Programmable Switches with Barefoot Tofino ASIC

If you would like to learn more about the beneficial use of P4, the Tofino-based STORDIS APS (Advanced Programmable Switches) and how they can enhance your own enterprise network, you are very welcome to visit us at or contact us directly at or +49 (0) 711 34 21 58 0.

Disclaimer: STORDIS was not involved in the production of the webinar with Aaron Glenn. The webinar was published initially by Packet Pushers at on March 25th 2019.