PicNIC: Predictable Virtualized NIC

[ paper ] [ doi ]


Praveen Kumar, Nandita Dukkipati, Nathan Lewis, Yi Cui, Yaogong Wang, Chonggang Li, Valas Valancius, Jake Adriaens, Steve Gribble, Nate Foster, and Amin Vahdat.
ACM SIGCOMM Best Student Paper Award


Network virtualization stacks are the linchpins of public clouds. A key goal is to provide performance isolation so that workloads on one Virtual Machine (VM) do not adversely impact the network experience of another VM. Using data from a major public cloud provider, we systematically characterize how performance isolation can break in current virtualization stacks and find a fundamental tradeoff between isolation and resource multiplexing for efficiency. In order to provide predictable performance, we propose a new system called PicNIC that shares resources efficiently in the common case while rapidly reacting to ensure isolation. PicNIC builds on three constructs to quickly detect isolation breakdown and to enforce it when necessary: CPU-fair weighted fair queues at receivers, receiver-driven congestion control for backpressure, and sender-side admission control with shaping. Based on an extensive evaluation, we show that this combination ensures isolation for VMs at sub-millisecond timescales with negligible overhead.


  author = {Kumar, Praveen and Dukkipati, Nandita and Lewis, Nathan and Cui, Yi and
      Wang, Yaogong and Li, Chonggang and Valancius, Valas and Adriaens, Jake and
      Gribble, Steve and Foster, Nate and Vahdat, Amin},
  title = {{PicNIC}: Predictable Virtualized {NIC}},
  year = {2019},
  doi = {10.1145/3341302.3342093},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the ACM Special Interest
      Group on Data Communication (SIGCOMM)},
  pages = {351–366},
  location = {Beijing, China},
  series = {SIGCOMM '19}
  publisher = {Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)},
[ paper ] [ doi ]