Networking/NIC Software

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Welcome to the OCP Networking NIC Software subproject.

Our goal is to bring together NIC vendors and hyperscaler and other users to spur discussion about relevant NIC features, and then define concrete unambiguous specifications for the API and behavior of each feature.

We aim to ensure that all vendor implementations support the true business requirements of large users. These requirements have historically often been underspecified or shared only with individual vendors (possibly under NDA). Which may lead to feature implementations that prove inapplicable, e.g., due to constraints on scale or lack of necessary telemetry.

For each feature, after reaching consensus, we publish a specification that covers both driver API and behavior in terms of metrics and their threshold values. We aim to share conformance tests that vendors can use to self-certify.


The focus is on traditional NIC networking features.

Significant developments are taking place in SmartNICs. But features not strictly related to the core network transmit and receive path are out of scope for this venue. This includes on-board co-processors operating systems and control plane offload.


This Sub-Project is open to the public and we want to welcome all those who would like to be involved.

Disclaimer: Please do not submit any confidential information to the Project Community. All presentation materials, proposals, meeting minutes and/or supporting documents are published by OCP and are open to the public in accordance to OCP's Bylaws and IP Policy. This can be found on the OCP OCP Policies page. If you have any questions please contact OCP.


- Core Offloads version 1: [PDF] [HTML]


In reverse chronological order.

- 2023-07 OCP Incubation Committee Final Review: overview for spec v1.0 review [1]
- 2023-03 OCP Networking Monthly Meeting: status update on core offloads slides
- 2022 OCP Global Summit: core offloads: Hyperscale NICs: performance and features slides
- 2022 OCP Tech Talks: crypto offload deep dive: Scalable NIC inline crypto for hyperscale workloads slides
- 2021 OCP Global Summit: introducing the effort: NICs for Hyperscale Deployments slidesvideo


The area is open for innovation, and new topics are encouraged.

The current list of active topics are


Define a standard set of network device and queue statistics, with standard names and unambiguous definition of each statistic's meaning.

For Linux based deployments, this builds on and extends the standard rtnl_link_stats64 and replaces much of the free-form current driver interface exposed through ethtool -S.

Traffic Engineering[edit]

Standardize state-of-the-art TE mechanisms.

Develop common support for stateless generic tunneling offload. Support TCP segmentation offload, an offload that is indispensible for many workloads, in combination with any tunnel protocols, as opposed to building an offload for each tunnel protocol. Hyperscalers may use protocols, protocol stacks and protocol variants --proprietary or not-- that the vendor cannot always anticipate. Generic tunneling is a requirement for deployment at scale.

Develop industry standard support for Earliest Departure Time (EDT) stateless rate limiting offload.

Flow Steering[edit]

Device queues are the basis for scalable networking through load balancing (RSS), as well as task isolation and userspace network stacks.


  1. a common interface for configuring devices queues and RSS groups, including dynamic addition and removal without link downtime.
  2. a common interface for steering flows to queue (groups), including expectations on datapath performance and scalability of number of steering rules.

Additionally, define

  1. a common queue interface for userspace network stacks like DPDK and Google SNAP.


TLS, QUIC, IPSec and other cryptographic protocols cover a huge fraction of all traffic.

Hardware support for offload of these and other protocols is uneven.

Define key requirements, such as support for specific cryptographic algorithms like ChaCha2020-Poly1305, specific protocols such as QUIC and resulting requirements, such as framing and stream re-synchronization.

Current protocols under active work are

  1. QUIC: rfc 9000
  2. PSP: scalable tunnel and transport mode protocol developed at Google (spec on github)

Time Measurement[edit]

Expand hardware capabilities from PTP to include high-rate, high-precision timestamps on every packet. Both Rx and Tx.

Accurate time measurement is essential to advanced congestion control (e.g., Swift), fleetwide latency SLO monitoring and even applications such as globally distributed databases (Spanner), among potentially others.

Get Involved[edit]

- Mailing List
- Networking parent project
- Meetings Calendar

Regular Project Calls[edit]

We join the monthly OCP Networking meetings, every second Monday of the month at 10am PT. See the Meetings Calendar for more details.

Project Leadership[edit]

Incubation Committee Representative[edit]


Sub-Project Leads[edit]

- Jakub Kicinski (Meta)
- Willem de Bruijn (Google)