Barefoot Networks exited stealth mode on Tuesday to unveil the Tofino chip, the world’s first fully programmable network switch.
The company effectively aims to change the way network systems are built and operated, allowing operators to change network behavior at the speed at which software can be changed.
The Tofino chip operates at 6.5 terabits per second, which is twice as fast as any other chip. Because the chip is fully programmable, network owners can specify the behavior of packet processing devices in their network, right down to packets traveling over the wire. The chips are programmed with the open source P4 language, and Barefoot says its customers have written programs for entirely new features, such as those that replace load balancers or firewalls.
By allowing network owners to create the functionality they need in their own networks, Broadfoot said in a statement that it is “removing the power of the tightly-owned cabal of switch chip vendors.”
Nick McKeown, co-founder and chief scientist of Barefoot Networks, noted in a statement that the architecture of fixed-function switches has not changed since its inception in 1996, even though everything else in the data center has changed. .
“How could a 1996 switch architecture be the right foundation for the 2016 applications?” ” he said. “In all other parts of the data center, we’ve moved on to programmability. Tofino enables this evolution for networking. It enables network owners and their infrastructure partners to design, optimize and innovate according to their specific needs.
Barefoot has raised over $ 130 million to date, with Goldman Sachs Principal Strategic Investments and Google leading its latest round of $ 57 million.