Welcome to my blog!

For a few months now I have been working at 6WIND, a company providing packet processing software and trying to eliminate performance bottlenecks for physical and virtual Linux applications. In other words, we sell software that makes computers and routing gear process the packets way faster. We try to attain the wirespeed limit: if you consider your Ethernet cable as a pipe, we want to push inside as many bits per second as this pipe is capable to convey.

I intend to publish here a series of article related to my work. I am lucky enough to work at a position where I learn a lot; of course, this also means that I do not master everything, and that my writings can occasionally contain some mistakes. Or also, things to improve. Or topics of interest for an open discussion. I did not wish to enable comments directly on this blog, but if you want to react in any way please feel free to ping by email or via Twitter!

What can you expect to find here? Well…

  • We will start with some notions about SDN.
  • A series about my current research project, BEBA, should follow.
  • Hopefully I will publish some materials about my experiments with eBPF.
  • And then we will see what comes next, I have no doubt I will keep working on other interesting topics.

Before we begin, here are a few words about the shape of this site. It is called Whirl Offload, what could that mean? This is the best I came with when I searched for a name. “Offload” refers to the transfer of the effort needed for some task to something else. In particular, this is used at several levels in fast networking: TCP, or “generic” segmentation offload (TSO, GSO, respectively) can be used to release the CPU from some overhead by appointing buffer segmentation to the NIC instead. Also, most of the packet processing can be delegated to some hardware ASIC or FPGA. And for the “whirl” part, it can take on several meanings—less technical, more lyrical maybe: something undergoing a rapid rotating movement for example, as if we would offload some kind of machinery with great gears spinning—an artistic view of a packet processing engine? Whirl also stands for a fast-paced succession of events: or of incoming packets, maybe? Unless we consider Whirl Offload as a kind of a swirling offload… It can take a lot of meanings indeed, so just pick the one that suits you best! For me, it relates to whirlwind, and hence to 6WIND of course. Well, in a way, writing on this blog is as if we had discharged a small part of 6WIND research onto the web. Kind of…

And what of the logo? At 6WIND we have an established graphical chart, based on blue (mostly) and orange (a little)—see the company’s logo. And we use a variety of racing cars on marketing presentation or graphics. As far as I know, they are used to represent speed—as in really, really fast networking. But I am not really into cars, and since this is not the official blog, let’s say I am free to choose another logo here!

Whirl Offload's logo

So this is a frigate bird. I hope you like it? Frigates are great in size, with wings that can span up to two meters. The males of some species have a red gular pouch they can inflate to attract female birds (this is the red stain on the logo). We remain in the aerial domain. Frigates can use soaring winds to fly for a long time above the sea, in which they catch fish. And what’s more, they have a steady and… extremely fast flight. Perfectly appropriate!

Now that we have a name, a logo, and everything needed to create posts, let’s start the serious talks!