December 9, 2021

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Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI)

4 min read

The telecommunications industry is moving faster than ever before. The reason for the acceleration lies in the separation of the network device which leads to the emergence of the concept of the white box switch. What provides network fragmentation? What are the problems with traditional communication? Let’s look at the previous talk.

Indigenous Social Stack

The telecommunications industry has seen the time of tightly integrated tools software and computer hardware for network devices. Companies build their own network plan and integrate it with the network software stack (SDK). It takes a concerted effort from a silicon dealer and an OEM dealer to create the perfect network switching product. There are other involved efforts to integrate silicon-selling SDK and its Network Operating System (NOS). This can be termed as an integrated network device where the switching software is firmly integrated and unbreakable. Product sales are owned by the company.

Disadvantages of integrated approach:

– Time-consuming

– Measurable

– The merchant enters

– Expensive

Dividing network

Separation means removing network software and hardware. This is similar to buying network silicon from any retailer and uploading your favorite NOS. In this case, one can have a variety of options to replace the silicon with an open-source NOS. Replacing silicon hardware can come from Cavium, Broadcom, Barefoot, Centec, Mellanox etc. and NOS can be Open switch (OPX), SONiC, dNOS etc.

Advantages of the division method:

– Fast marketing time

– It’s ridiculous

– No dealer locks

– Cost savings

– Modularity and freedom in choosing NOS and silicon switch

To adapt the concept of network fragmentation, major players such as Microsoft, Facebook, Dell, Intel, Broadcom, Mellanox, Marvell, Cavium, etc. They formed the Open Compute Project (OCP) team and introduced the standard release of network switching. The standard interface is called SAI – Switch Abstraction Interface.

SAI – Solution to change segregation

When we say network configuration it means that the NOS includes a set of flexible software, platform-specific drivers, and a management aircraft. To unlock the button, it needs to combine all the pieces of software to make a complete NOS.

The silicon supplier provided the SDK needs to be integrated with the NOS. Now with a smooth and easy integration, retailers are offering standard communications to access its silicon. The standard interface is well-received and widely used by various open-source NOS. As a general rule, the developer should only need to know the standard APIs that are neutral for the vendor.

By using SAI, an engineer can integrate silicon dealer software with any open source NOS smoothly and quickly. This means that one has the options to select NOS with SAI as the interface south of the vendor SDK. There are various NOS available in the market using SAI. Let’s take a look at one example of SONiC used with SAI.

Here SONiC is used as NOS on various platforms and SAI is used as a standard interface between SONiC and silicon vendor software. Apart from SONiC, NOS can be open switch (OPX), dNOS, ONL etc.

Now that we understand why and how it happens with SAI, let’s take a look at what SAI really is?

What is SAI?

Switch Abstraction Interface APIs based on C language to set up network hardware tables. The user does not need to know about the behavior change of silicon. The user must use the SAI APIs to configure a specific feature of the silicon network. Below the figure is the same as that provided by the switch Abstraction Interface.

SAI APIs available from SAI headers are registered job guides and specific APIs for silicon vendors. This specific installation of vendor APIs is the SAI adapter of the SDK. The SAI adapter contains a real glue concept between a common network element and a specific vendor feature. The user can provide pair-value setting values for a particular feature.

The SAI project is run by the Open Compute Project (OCP) and is rapidly transformed into the telecommunications industry. Large suppliers of silicon switches such as Cavium, Barefoot, Broadcom, Mellanox, Marvell, Centec etc. are donors to the SAI community.

Is the future of the White Box Switch Networking?

In a fast-paced market, the biggest advantage of any network product launch is its fast time to bring the product to market and also at competitive prices. Of course, quality and performance are unspecified factors to consider. In contrast, traditional communication has many problems such as SDN network instability, marketing time and price. As a result, it enters the market at a later time and is more expensive.

Network switching has been developed with the idea of network splitting white box switch. The white box switch enables ODM retailers to choose a flexible silicon with an optional open source NOS that makes it intimidating and efficient for the price. One can also change the active NOS to a new network device by installing the SAI interface and ONIE on-board support. A one-point sale is the norm now. Switch switch developers can customize open and hardware communication software according to their requirement.

Edgecore family of AS7XXX, Melanox Spectrum, Inventec’s DCS6072QS, Dell EMC’s S3048-ON etc. Successfully sold white box sales.

The white box replacement has been considered since 2011 and in the current open communication era of 2018, it has placed potential disruptions on traditional retailers. It is an ongoing trend in the current telecommunications market and will continue to be so in the future for SDN networks due to its obvious benefits. SAI is the key to unlocking the development of the white box switch.

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