Hardware-Accelerated Platforms and Infrastructures for Network Functions: A Survey of Enabling Technologies and Research Studies

Prateek Shantharama, Akhilesh S. Thyagaturu, Martin Reisslein

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


In order to facilitate flexible network service virtualization and migration, network functions (NFs) are increasingly executed by software modules as so-called 'softwarized NFs' on General-Purpose Computing (GPC) platforms and infrastructures. GPC platforms are not specifically designed to efficiently execute NFs with their typically intense Input/Output (I/O) demands. Recently, numerous hardware-based accelerations have been developed to augment GPC platforms and infrastructures, e.g., the central processing unit (CPU) and memory, to efficiently execute NFs. This article comprehensively surveys hardware-accelerated platforms and infrastructures for executing softwarized NFs. This survey covers both commercial products, which we consider to be enabling technologies, as well as relevant research studies. We have organized the survey into the main categories of enabling technologies and research studies on hardware accelerations for the CPU, the memory, and the interconnects (e.g., between CPU and memory), as well as custom and dedicated hardware accelerators (that are embedded on the platforms); furthermore, we survey hardware-accelerated infrastructures that connect GPC platforms to networks (e.g., smart network interface cards). We find that the CPU hardware accelerations have mainly focused on extended instruction sets and CPU clock adjustments, as well as cache coherency. Hardware accelerated interconnects have been developed for on-chip and chip-to-chip connections. Our comprehensive up-to-date survey identifies the main trade-offs and limitations of the existing hardware-accelerated platforms and infrastructures for NFs and outlines directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9137119
Pages (from-to)132021-132085
Number of pages65
JournalIEEE Access
StatePublished - 2020


  • Central processing unit (CPU)
  • hardware accelerator
  • interconnect
  • memory
  • software defined networking (SDN)
  • virtualized network function (VNF)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • General Computer Science


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