Monday, March 19, 2018

P4 programming language gets folded into the Linux Foundation

The P4 Language Consortium (, creator of the P4 programming language,  will become a project of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and become part of the Linux Foundation portfolio.

P4 was designed to be target-independent (i.e. a program written in P4 could be compiled, without modification, to run on a variety of targets, such as ASICs, FPGAs, CPUs, NPUs, and GPUs), and protocol-independent (i.e. a P4 program can describe existing standard protocols, or be used to specify innovative, new, customized forwarding behaviors). P4 can be used for both programmable and fixed-function devices alike. For example, it is used to accurately capture the switch pipeline behavior under the Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) APIs, used by the SONiC open-source switch OS. P4 is also used by the ONF Stratum project to describe forwarding behavior across a variety of fixed and programmable devices.

“A group of us decided on May 19, 2013 that we needed an industry-standard, open language for specifying forwarding behaviors,” said Nick McKeown, Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, and P4 Board Member. “We created a language that students are studying in our universities, and using to prototype and publish new research ideas at the best networking conferences. Industry has adopted P4 to program devices and capture existing behaviors. In the future, we hope that Internet RFCs and IEEE Standards will include a clear, unambiguous P4 specification too, paving the way for interoperability by design.”

“SDN has transformed the networking industry and P4 takes SDN to the next level by bringing programmability to the forwarding plane,” said Guru Parulkar, Executive Director at Open Networking Foundation. “We are excited to have join ONF and are looking forward to seeing our synergy bring incredible benefits to the P4 and the larger SDN community.”

“Linux Foundation is thrilled to welcome the P4 community,” said Jim Zemlin, Executive Director at Linux Foundation. “Networking is a major focus at the foundation and the addition of the thriving P4 community combined with Linux Foundation Networking Projects in similar domains will drive innovation in networking to the next level.”