US 7177311 System and method for routing traffic through a virtual router-based network switch

ABSTRACT – A method for routing packets in a router includes establishing a flow data structure identifying a packet flow through a virtual router in the router. Next, a system executing the method receives a packet, said packet having at least one packet header. The method then compares a subset of the at least one packet header to a subset of the flow data structure. If the subset of the at least one packet header matches the subset of the flow data structure, then the packet can be hardware accelerated to a network interface. Otherwise, the packet can be either dropped, or forwarded to a general purpose processor for processing.

FIELD

The present invention relates generally to network switches, and more particularly to routing traffic through a virtual router-based network switch

BACKGROUND

The use of networks, including LANs, WANS, and the Internet continues to grow at ever increasing rates. Each day, more and more systems are becoming interconnected. This has created a need for high performance network switches on the part of network service providers. Many of the switches comprise multiple modules, with many data flows between the modules themselves and between the interfaces to external networks. In some cases, these modules, including the processors residing on the modules can be partitioned into virtual routers, that is, software running on the processors that emulates the functioning of an individual physical router. As a result of the combination of hundreds of thousands of data flows for the virtual routers in these network switches, there is a need for efficiently processing packet flows, and for controlling the resources consumed within the network switch.

SUMMARY

The above-mentioned shortcomings, disadvantages and problems are addressed by the present invention, which will be understood by reading and studying the following specification.

One aspect of the present invention is a method for routing packets in a router. The method includes establishing a flow data structure identifying a packet flow through a virtual router in the router. Next, a system executing the method receives a packet, said packet having at least one packet header. The method then compares a subset of the at least one packet header to a subset of the flow data structure. If the subset of the at least one packet header matches the subset of the flow data structure, then the packet can be hardware accelerated to a network interface. Otherwise, the packet can be either dropped, or forwarded to a general purpose processor for processing.

The present invention describes systems, clients, servers, methods, and computer-readable media of varying scope. In addition to the aspects and advantages of the present invention described in this summary, further aspects and advantages of the invention will become apparent by reference to the drawings and by reading the detailed description that follows.

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