Sándor Laki, Radostin Stoyanov, Dávid Kis, Robert Soulé, Péter Vörös, Noa Zilberman
High level, network programming languages, like P4, enable students to gain hands-on experience in the structure of a switch or router. Students can implement the packet processing pipeline themselves, without prior knowledge of circuit design. However, when choosing a P4 programmable target for use in the classroom, instructors face a lack of options. On the one hand, software solutions, such as the behavioral model (BMv2) switch, are overly simplified and offer low performance. On the other hand, existing hardware solutions are closed source and expensive.
In this paper, we present P4Pi, a new, low-cost, open-source hardware platform intended for networking education. P4Pi allows students to design and deploy P4-based network devices using the Raspberry Pi board, which has a price tag of less than many academic textbooks. We describe the high-level design of the P4Pi platform, offer some suggestions for how P4Pi could be used in the classroom, and present some additional use-cases for applications and functionality that could be developed using P4Pi.