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DPDK’s Role in Hyperscaling

By May 1, 2024Blog

In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, hyperscaling in the cloud has emerged as a critical strategy for businesses aiming to scale their operations efficiently. The webinar, “Hyperscaling in the Cloud,” hosted by Honnappa Nagarahalli (Arm), from the DPDK Tech Board, brings together industry experts to discuss how the Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) is revolutionizing hyperscale cloud environments.

The Webinar Panelists

The webinar featured three distinguished panelists:

1. Brian Denton: A Senior Program Manager at Microsoft Azure, Brian brings a wealth of experience in Azure’s host networking. He shared insights into Azure’s implementation of DPDK, emphasizing its use in enhancing Ethernet, and overall network performance.

2. Rushil Gupta: As a Senior Software Engineer at Google, Rushil highlighted the critical role of DPDK in financial technology (Fintech) applications on Google Cloud Platform (GCP). His discussion focused on achieving consistency, performance, and reliability in high-frequency trading platforms.

3. Jim Thompson: Co-founder of Netgate, Jim delved into the use of DPDK in networking applications outside the traditional cloud domain. His contribution illuminated the versatility of DPDK across different cloud environments and its impact on virtual private networks (VPNs).

Insights from the Webinar

DPDK in Azure’s Cloud Networking

Brian Denton’s presentation offered a glimpse into how Microsoft Azure leverages DPDK to offload packet processing from the CPU to dedicated hardware. This approach significantly reduces latency and improves throughput, enabling Azure to offer enhanced performance for virtual machines (VMs) and networking services.

Brian shared valuable insights into how DPDK has been instrumental in Azure’s network infrastructure, particularly highlighting its impact on Azure’s host networking and the broader ecosystem of partners and customers. He explained that Azure has integrated DPDK to address the need for high-speed packet processing, which is crucial for a wide range of applications, from basic web services to complex, latency-sensitive tasks like real-time analytics and high-frequency trading.

One of the key points Brian made was about the technical architecture that enables Azure to leverage DPDK’s capabilities. He detailed how DPDK is used in conjunction with Azure’s hardware, such as SmartNICs, to offload and accelerate network functions traditionally handled by software. This hardware-software synergy, as Denton explained, not only reduces CPU overhead but also significantly decreases latency, providing Azure customers with improved network performance and efficiency.

Furthermore, Brian highlighted real-world applications of DPDK in Azure, illustrating how partners and customers utilize DPDK for scenarios that require minimal latency and maximum throughput. He also discussed the continuous evolution of Azure’s networking stack, underscored by the introduction of new hardware and the ongoing optimization of DPDK to meet the growing demands of cloud computing.

Some examples: 

Clearent by Xplor used Azure SQL Database Hyperscale to revamp its merchant transaction reporting system. Previously operating on in-house systems, Clearent, which handles over 500 million transactions annually, shifted to a cloud-based setup. This move significantly boosted their ability to process and report data.

Protocall Services, a provider of telephonic crisis and behavioral health digital tools, embarked on a cloud migration journey to enhance the reliability, security, and scalability of its IT infrastructure. 

DPDK’s Impact on Fintech Applications

Rushil Gupta’s discussion on the use of DPDK in financial technology (Fintech) applications, particularly in the realm of high-frequency trading (HFT) platforms on Google Cloud Platform (GCP), sheds light on how bleeding-edge network processing technologies are evolving financial markets. 

In the fast-paced world of HFT, where milliseconds can equate to millions of dollars, the need for ultra-low latency and high throughput is paramount. Traditional cloud networking approaches may falter under such demanding requirements due to the involvement of kernel-based networking stacks that introduce additional latency. Here, DPDK’s bypass of the kernel networking stack, allowing direct access to network hardware, presents a compelling solution. This direct path significantly reduces latency and increases packet processing speed, enabling HFT platforms to operate at the speed required to capitalize on fleeting market opportunities.

Rushil illustrates how Google leverages DPDK to empower fintech customers on GCP, providing them with the infrastructure necessary to achieve the high throughput and low-latency communication essential for HFT platforms. One notable application is in the construction of complex event processing (CEP) systems, which are at the heart of many trading platforms. These systems analyze and act upon market data in real-time, necessitating the rapid processing capabilities that DPDK facilitates.

Rushil discusses the role of DPDK in enhancing data replication and recovery processes within fintech applications. In an industry where data integrity and availability are critical, DPDK’s efficiency in handling large volumes of data packets ensures that financial institutions can maintain robust data replication frameworks. This capability not only supports the high availability demands of trading platforms but also aids in achieving regulatory compliance related to data persistence and recovery.

Rushil explained how DPDK’s application in fintech on GCP demonstrates the technology’s pivotal role in enabling HFT and other financial services to meet their stringent performance and reliability criteria. With DPDK, Google provides a competitive edge to fintech applications, facilitating new levels of speed and efficiency in financial markets. 

Some examples: 

1. CME Group. As one of the world’s leading derivatives marketplaces, CME Group leverages GCP and DPDK for enhanced market data analytics and to facilitate high-speed trading. Their partnership aims to accelerate CME Group’s move to the cloud, transforming the global markets ecosystem with cloud-based innovation and scaling capacity dynamically to meet market demands.

2. Talos. Specializing in digital asset trading technology, Talos utilizes GCP’s infrastructure to support its trading platform. With DPDK, Talos benefits from reduced latency and increased throughput, essential for executing trades and managing orders across multiple exchanges and liquidity pools efficiently.

3. Clowd9. This cloud-based trading technology provider uses GCP to offer a scalable and secure platform for trading firms and financial institutions. DPDK supports Clowd9’s need for high performance and low latency in executing trades, managing risk, and processing real-time market data.

4. Freetrade. Freetrade, an investment platform, leverages GCP to power its app, offering users commission-free trading. GCP’s global infrastructure and DPDK’s network optimization capabilities ensure that Freetrade can manage high volumes of transactions and data analysis. 

5. TD Securities Automated Trading (TDSAT): TDSAT uses GCP for trading fixed-income bonds, benefiting from DPDK’s high-performance packet processing capabilities. This enables TDSAT to execute trades at high speed and with precision, critical for maintaining competitiveness in the fixed income market.

These customers and use cases underscore the importance of DPDK in enhancing network performance on GCP, making it an ideal platform for capital market applications that demand high throughput, low latency, and scalability. By leveraging GCP and DPDK, capital market firms innovate and adapt quickly to market changes, manage risks more effectively, and unlock new opportunities for growth.

Broadening DPDK’s Application Scope in VPNs and Software Routers

Jim Thompson’s insights during the DPDK webinar shed light on how DPDK is leveraged in cloud networking through the lens of Netgate’s product, TNSR (pronounced ‘Tensor’). This serves as a case study of DPDK’s implementation outside its traditional use cases. TNSR, a virtual router developed by Netgate, underscores the adaptability and robustness of DPDK in addressing specific cloud networking challenges.

In cloud environments, networking demands can quickly escalate due to the sheer volume of data transfer and the need for secure connections. Traditional VPN solutions often fall short due to bandwidth limitations and the number of tunnels they can support. Jim highlighted how these constraints could hinder the scalability and performance of cloud-based services. This scenario is particularly relevant for large organizations that require extensive interconnectivity across various cloud environments.

The introduction of TNSR as a DPDK-powered solution exemplifies how DPDK’s high-performance packet processing capabilities can be extended beyond typical use cases to solve complex cloud networking problems. By utilizing DPDK’s efficient polling mode drivers (PMDs) for network and cryptography offload, TNSR significantly enhances throughput and reduces latency in VPN connections. 

Jim explained how TNSR facilitates seamless connectivity between on-premise networks and cloud regions, highlighting the importance of VPN connections for secure data transfer. He underscored the limitations of existing cloud VPN solutions, such as bandwidth caps and tunnel number restrictions, which can significantly hamper large organizations’ networking needs. By leveraging DPDK, TNSR bypasses these limitations, providing a more flexible and scalable solution for cloud-based networking.

Take a look at Netgate’s customer stories here


The webinar underscored DPDK’s pivotal role in enabling hyperscaling in the cloud. By providing a high-performance packet processing framework, DPDK not only enhances network efficiency but also opens new avenues for application development across various industries. As cloud architectures continue to evolve, the collaboration between cloud providers, technology firms, and the open source community will be vital in harnessing the full potential of DPDK.

Join in the Hyperscaling discussion and the community on slack here.