DPDK Physical Ports

The netdev datapath allows attaching of DPDK-backed physical interfaces in order to provide high-performance ingress/egress from the host.


To use any DPDK-backed interface, you must ensure your bridge is configured correctly. For more information, refer to DPDK Bridges.

Changed in version 2.7.0: Before Open vSwitch 2.7.0, it was necessary to prefix port names with a dpdk prefix. Starting with 2.7.0, this is no longer necessary.

Quick Example

This example demonstrates how to bind two dpdk ports, bound to physical interfaces identified by hardware IDs 0000:01:00.0 and 0000:01:00.1, to an existing bridge called br0:

$ ovs-vsctl add-port br0 dpdk-p0 \
   -- set Interface dpdk-p0 type=dpdk options:dpdk-devargs=0000:01:00.0
$ ovs-vsctl add-port br0 dpdk-p1 \
   -- set Interface dpdk-p1 type=dpdk options:dpdk-devargs=0000:01:00.1

For the above example to work, the two physical interfaces must be bound to the DPDK poll-mode drivers in userspace rather than the traditional kernel drivers. See the binding NIC drivers <dpdk-binding-nics> section for details.

Binding NIC Drivers

DPDK operates entirely in userspace and, as a result, requires use of its own poll-mode drivers in user space for physical interfaces and a passthrough-style driver for the devices in kernel space.

There are two different tools for binding drivers: driverctl which is a generic tool for persistently configuring alternative device drivers, and dpdk-devbind which is a DPDK-specific tool and whose changes do not persist across reboots. In addition, there are two options available for this kernel space driver - VFIO (Virtual Function I/O) and UIO (Userspace I/O) - along with a number of drivers for each option. We will demonstrate examples of both tools and will use the vfio-pci driver, which is the more secure, robust driver of those available. More information can be found in the DPDK documentation.

To list devices using driverctl, run:

$ driverctl -v list-devices | grep -i net
0000:07:00.0 igb (I350 Gigabit Network Connection (Ethernet Server Adapter I350-T2))
0000:07:00.1 igb (I350 Gigabit Network Connection (Ethernet Server Adapter I350-T2))

You can then bind one or more of these devices using the same tool:

$ driverctl set-override 0000:07:00.0 vfio-pci

Alternatively, to list devices using dpdk-devbind, run:

$ dpdk-devbind --status
Network devices using DPDK-compatible driver

Network devices using kernel driver
0000:07:00.0 'I350 Gigabit Network Connection 1521' if=enp7s0f0 drv=igb unused=igb_uio
0000:07:00.1 'I350 Gigabit Network Connection 1521' if=enp7s0f1 drv=igb unused=igb_uio

Other Network devices

Once again, you can then bind one or more of these devices using the same tool:

$ dpdk-devbind --bind=vfio-pci 0000:07:00.0

Changed in version 2.6.0: Open vSwitch 2.6.0 added support for DPDK 16.07, which in turn renamed the former dpdk_nic_bind tool to dpdk-devbind.

For more information, refer to the DPDK documentation.


Poll Mode Driver (PMD) threads are the threads that do the heavy lifting for the DPDK datapath. Correct configuration of PMD threads and the Rx queues they utilize is a requirement in order to deliver the high-performance possible with DPDK acceleration. It is possible to configure multiple Rx queues for dpdk ports, thus ensuring this is not a bottleneck for performance. For information on configuring PMD threads, refer to PMD Threads.

Flow Control

Flow control can be enabled only on DPDK physical ports. To enable flow control support at Tx side while adding a port, run:

$ ovs-vsctl add-port br0 dpdk-p0 -- set Interface dpdk-p0 type=dpdk \
    options:dpdk-devargs=0000:01:00.0 options:tx-flow-ctrl=true

Similarly, to enable Rx flow control, run:

$ ovs-vsctl add-port br0 dpdk-p0 -- set Interface dpdk-p0 type=dpdk \
    options:dpdk-devargs=0000:01:00.0 options:rx-flow-ctrl=true

To enable flow control auto-negotiation, run:

$ ovs-vsctl add-port br0 dpdk-p0 -- set Interface dpdk-p0 type=dpdk \
    options:dpdk-devargs=0000:01:00.0 options:flow-ctrl-autoneg=true

To turn on the Tx flow control at run time for an existing port, run:

$ ovs-vsctl set Interface dpdk-p0 options:tx-flow-ctrl=true

The flow control parameters can be turned off by setting false to the respective parameter. To disable the flow control at Tx side, run:

$ ovs-vsctl set Interface dpdk-p0 options:tx-flow-ctrl=false

Rx Checksum Offload

By default, DPDK physical ports are enabled with Rx checksum offload.

Rx checksum offload can offer performance improvement only for tunneling traffic in OVS-DPDK because the checksum validation of tunnel packets is offloaded to the NIC. Also enabling Rx checksum may slightly reduce the performance of non-tunnel traffic, specifically for smaller size packet.


OVS supports port hotplugging, allowing the use of physical ports that were not bound to DPDK when ovs-vswitchd was started.


This feature is not compatible with all NICs. Refer to vendor documentation for more information.


Ports must be bound to DPDK. Refer to Binding NIC Drivers for more information.

To hotplug a port, simply add it like any other port:

$ ovs-vsctl add-port br0 dpdkx -- set Interface dpdkx type=dpdk \

Ports can be detached using the del-port command:

$ ovs-vsctl del-port dpdkx

This should both delete the port and detach the device. If successful, you should see an INFO log. For example:

INFO|Device '0000:04:00.1' has been detached

If the log is not seen then the port can be detached like so:

$ ovs-appctl netdev-dpdk/detach 0000:01:00.0


Detaching should not be done if a device is known to be non-detachable, as this may cause the device to behave improperly when added back with add-port. The Chelsio Terminator adapters which use the cxgbe driver seem to be an example of this behavior; check the driver documentation if this is suspected.

For more information please refer to the DPDK Port Hotplug Framework.

Jumbo Frames

DPDK physical ports can be configured to use Jumbo Frames. For more information, refer to Jumbo Frames.