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PTNET(4)	       FreeBSD Kernel Interfaces Manual		      PTNET(4)

     ptnet -- Ethernet driver for passed-through netmap	ports

     This network driver is included in	netmap(4), and it can be compiled into
     the kernel	by adding the following	line in	your kernel configuration

	   device netmap

     The ptnet device driver provides direct access to host netmap ports, from
     within a Virtual Machine (VM).  Applications running inside the VM	can
     access the	TX/RX rings and	buffers	of a netmap port that the hypervisor
     has passed-through	to the VM.  Hypervisor support for ptnet is currently
     available for QEMU/KVM.  Any netmap(4) port can be	passed-through,	in-
     cluding physical NICs, vale(4) ports, netmap pipes, etc.

     The main use-case for netmap passthrough is Network Function Virtualiza-
     tion (NFV), where middlebox applications running within VMs may want to
     process very high packet rates (e.g., 1-10	millions packets per second or
     more).  Note, however, that those applications must use the device	in
     netmap mode in order to achieve such rates.  In addition to the general
     advantages	of netmap, the improved	performance of ptnet when compared to
     hypervisor	device emulation or paravirtualization (e.g., vtnet(4),
     vmx(4)) comes from	the hypervisor being completely	bypassed in the	data-
     path.  For	example, when using vtnet(4) the VM has	to convert each
     mbuf(9) to	a VirtIO-specific packet representation	and publish that to a
     VirtIO queue; on the hypervisor side, the packet is extracted from	the
     VirtIO queue and converted	to a hypervisor-specific packet	representa-
     tion.  The	overhead of format conversions (and packet copies, in same
     cases) is not incured by ptnet in netmap mode, because mbufs are not used
     at	all, and the packet format is the one defined by netmap	(e.g., struct
     netmap_slot) along	the whole data-path.  No format	conversions or copies

     It	is also	possible to use	a ptnet	device like a regular network inter-
     face, which interacts with	the FreeBSD network stack (i.e., not in	netmap
     mode).  However, in that case it is necessary to pay the cost of data
     copies between mbufs and netmap buffers, which generally results in lower
     TCP/UDP performance than vtnet(4) or other	paravirtualized	network	de-
     vices.  If	the passed-through netmap port supports	the VirtIO network
     header, ptnet is able to use it, and support TCP/UDP checksum offload
     (for both transmit	and receive), TCP segmentation offload (TSO) and TCP
     large receive offload (LRO).  Currently, vale(4) ports support the
     header.  Note that	the VirtIO network header is generally not used	in NFV
     use-cases,	because	middleboxes are	not endpoints of TCP/UDP connections.

     Tunables can be set at the	loader(8) prompt before	booting	the kernel or
     stored in loader.conf(5).

	     This tunable enables (1) or disables (0) the VirtIO network
	     header.  If enabled, ptnet	uses the same header used by vtnet(4)
	     to	exchange offload metadata with the hypervisor.	If disabled,
	     no	header is prepended to transmitted and received	packets.  The
	     metadata is necessary to support TCP/UDP checksum offloads, TSO,
	     and LRO.  The default value is 1.

     netintro(4), netmap(4), vale(4), virtio(4), vmx(4), ifconfig(8)

     The ptnet driver was written by Vincenzo Maffione
     <>.  It first	appeared in FreeBSD 12.0.

FreeBSD	13.0		       December	11, 2018		  FreeBSD 13.0


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