NetVRM: Virtual Register Memory for Programmable Networks


Hang Zhu, Johns Hopkins University; Tao Wang, New York University; Yi Hong, Johns Hopkins University; Dan R. K. Ports, Microsoft Research; Anirudh Sivaraman, New York University; Xin Jin, Peking University


Programmable networks are enabling a new class of applications that leverage the line-rate processing capability and on-chip register memory of the switch data plane. Yet the status quo is focused on developing approaches that share the register memory statically. We present NetVRM, a network management system that supports dynamic register memory sharing between multiple concurrent applications on a programmable network and is readily deployable on commodity programmable switches. NetVRM provides a virtual register memory abstraction that enables applications to share the register memory in the data plane, and abstracts away the underlying details. In principle, NetVRM supports any memory allocation algorithm given the virtual register memory abstraction. It also provides a default memory allocation algorithm that exploits the observation that applications have diminishing returns on additional memory. NetVRM provides an extension of P4, P4VRM, for developing applications with virtual register memory, and a compiler to generate data plane programs and control plane APIs. Testbed experiments show that NetVRM generalizes to a diverse variety of applications, and that its utility-based dynamic allocation policy outperforms static resource allocation. Specifically, it improves the mean satisfaction ratio (i.e., the fraction of a network application’s lifetime that it meets its utility target) by 1.6–2.2× under a range of workloads.

NSDI '22 Open Access Sponsored by
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

Open Access Media

USENIX is committed to Open Access to the research presented at our events. Papers and proceedings are freely available to everyone once the event begins. Any video, audio, and/or slides that are posted after the event are also free and open to everyone. Support USENIX and our commitment to Open Access.

@inproceedings {278360,
author = {Hang Zhu and Tao Wang and Yi Hong and Dan R. K. Ports and Anirudh Sivaraman and Xin Jin},
title = {{NetVRM}: Virtual Register Memory for Programmable Networks},
booktitle = {19th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 22)},
year = {2022},
isbn = {978-1-939133-27-4},
address = {Renton, WA},
pages = {155--170},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = apr,

Presentation Video