Building Blocks for Leveraging In-Network Compute

Decanato - Facoltà di scienze informatiche

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You are cordially invited to attend the PhD Dissertation Defense of Theodore Jepsen on Wednesday July 22nd, 2020 at 15:00 on Teams.

Recently there has been the emergence of new types of specialized hardware for networking. Similarly to other domain-specific computing devices, they are not straightforward to program and require adapting applications, but provide significant performance improvements. Although these devices were intended for network applications, they have been used for offloading other types of applications, in what is called in-network compute (INC). INC presents many opportunities to applications because it provides high-performance compute that is centrally located in the network.  However, there are many challenges for leveraging INC. Although INC devices are programmable, there are some limitations that are not present in general purpose CPUs, including compute expressiveness, resource availability (e.g., memory) and interfacing to applications. This thesis addresses the challenge of leveraging INC for application-network co-design. Not all applications are suitable for INC; in some cases, only parts of applications can benefit from INC.  The hypothesis is that application performance can be improved by moving some functionality into reusable INC building blocks. At a high level, this thesis makes the following contributions: it characterizes the types of applications that can benefit from INC; it describes the building blocks that applications can use to leverage INC; it suggests the right abstractions and level of granularity for INC; it describes INC data structures and implementation techniques; and, finally, it evaluates INC by implementing five systems for applications from different domains. Overall, this thesis revisits the separation of concerns between the application and the network, showing that co-design is not only possible, but also beneficial.

Dissertation Committee:
- Prof. Robert Soulé, Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland (Research Advisor)
- Prof. Antonio Carzaniga, Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland (Internal Member)
- Prof. Fernando Pedone, Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland (Internal Member)
- Prof. Edouard Bugnion, EPFL, Switzerland (External Member)
- Prof. Noa Zilberman, Cambridge University, UK (External Member)