Open vSwitch (ovs) is an open source software virtual switch developed and distributed via openvswitch.org. The Data Plane Development Kit (dpdk) is a collection of userspace libraries and tools that facilitate the development of high-performance userspace networking applications.

As of the ovs 2.2 release, the ovs netdev datapath has supported integration with dpdk for accelerated userspace networking. As of the pike release of kolla support for deploying ovs with dpdk (ovs-dpdk) has been added to kolla ansible. The ovs-dpdk role introduced in the pike release has been tested on centos 7 and ubuntu 16.04 hosts, however, ubuntu is recommended due to conflicts with the cgroup configuration created by the default systemd version shipped with centos 7.


DPDK is a high-performance userspace networking library, as such it has several requirements to function correctly that are not required when deploying ovs without dpdk.

To function efficiently one of the mechanisms dpdk uses to accelerate memory access is the utilisation of kernel hugepages. The use of hugepage memory minimises the chance of a translation lookaside buffer(TLB) miss when translating virtual to physical memory as it increases the total amount of addressable memory that can be cached via the TLB. Hugepage memory pages are unswappable contiguous blocks of memory of typically 2MiB or 1GiB in size, that can be used to facilitate efficient sharing of memory between guests and a vSwitch or DMA mapping between physical nics and the userspace ovs datapath.

To deploy ovs-dpdk on a platform a proportion of system memory should be allocated hugepages. While it is possible to allocate hugepages at runtime it is advised to allocate them via the kernel command line instead to prevent memory fragmentation. This can be achieved by adding the following to the grub config and regenerating your grub file.

default_hugepagesz=2M hugepagesz=2M hugepages=25000

As dpdk is a userspace networking library it requires userspace compatible drivers to be able to control the physical interfaces on the platform. dpdk technically support 3 kernel drivers igb_uio, uio_pci_generic and vfio_pci. While it is technically possible to use all 3 only uio_pci_generic and vfio_pci are recommended for use with kolla. igb_uio is BSD licenced and distributed as part of the dpdk library. While it has some advantages over uio_pci_generic loading the igb_uio module will taint the kernel and possibly invalidate distro support. To successfully deploy ovs-dpdk, vfio_pci or uio_pci_generic kernel module must be present on the platform. Most distros include vfio_pci or uio_pci_generic as part of the default kernel though on some distros you may need to install kernel-modules-extra or the distro equivalent prior to running kolla-ansible deploy.


To enable ovs-dpdk, add the following configuration to /etc/kolla/globals.yml file:

ovs_datapath: "netdev"
enable_ovs_dpdk: yes
enable_openvswitch: yes
tunnel_interface: "dpdk_bridge"
neutron_bridge_name: "dpdk_bridge"


Kolla doesn’t support ovs-dpdk for RHEL-based distros due to the lack of a suitable package.

Unlike standard Open vSwitch deployments, the interface specified by neutron_external_interface should have an ip address assigned. The ip address assigned to neutron_external_interface will be moved to the “dpdk_bridge” as part of deploy action. When using ovs-dpdk the tunnel_interface must be an ovs bridge with a physical interfaces attached for tunnelled traffic to be accelerated by dpdk. Note that due to a limitation in ansible variable names which excluded the use of - in a variable name it is not possible to use the default br-ex name for the neutron_bridge_name or tunnel_interface.

At present, the tunnel interface ip is configured using network manager on on ubuntu and systemd on centos family operating systems. systemd is used to work around a limitation of the centos network manager implementation which does not consider the creation of an ovs bridge to be a hotplug event. In the future, a new config option will be introduced to allow systemd to be used on all host distros for those who do not wish to enable the network manager service on ubuntu.


Reconfiguration from kernel ovs to ovs dpdk is currently not supported. Changing ovs datapaths on a deployed node requires neutron config changes and libvirt xml changes for all running instances including a hard reboot of the vm.

When upgrading ovs-dpdk it should be noted that this will always involve a dataplane outage. Unlike kernel OVS the dataplane for ovs-dpdk executes in the ovs-vswitchd process. This means the lifetime of the dpdk dataplane is tied to the lifetime of the ovsdpdk_vswitchd container. As such it is recommended to always evacuate all vm workloads from a node running ovs-dpdk prior to upgrading.

On ubuntu network manager is required for tunnel networking. This requirement will be removed in the future.