How XDP and eBPF Use the Linux Kernel to Speed Up Network Traffic

How XDP and eBPF Use the Linux Kernel to Speed Up Network Traffic

XDP has become the high-performance networking sweetheart. User-space programs will be able to read and write network packet data directly, and make decisions about how to treat a packet before it reaches the kernel level, using this mechanism. In other words, while user-space handles some of the overhead, the kernel is primarily responsible for the majority of these decisions and actions.

XDP isn’t a language. Instead, XDP uses the eBPF programming language to gain access to the lower-level kernel hook. That hook is then implemented by the network device driver within the ingress traffic processing function, before a socket buffer can be allocated for the incoming packet.

Let’s look at how these two work together. This outstanding example comes from Jeremy Erickson, who is a senior R&D developer with Duo (which is now a part of Cisco). We’ll illustrate Erickson’s example by way of Ubuntu 20.04. So in order to follow along, you should have a Ubuntu instance at the ready. What we’re going to do is demonstrate XDP and eBPF working together with the help of C and Python. It’s actually quite an interesting little experiment.

linux xdp ebpf speed network linux kernel

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