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NFV & Service Chaining on the Gi-LAN



Deploying network functions on the Gi-LAN, a part of the network that sits between the mobile core and the internet, has always been the territory of some of the most demanding packet processing workloads. Millions of mobile subscribers access network services through the Gi-LAN at any given time as communications service providers (CSPs) classify traffic directing it only when necessary to specific network services in order to meet policy enforcement and specific service level agreement needs.   

CSPs maintain a variety of service functions on the Gi-LAN including Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), firewalling, Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation (CG-NAT), Load Balancing, Policy Control and Content Delivery Optimization of video and web traffic.

Figure 1 Service Chaining on the Gi-LAN

The motivation for implementing these Gi LAN service functions is for CSPs to be able to offer, value-added services to subscribers such as URL filtering, enhanced security services, video optimization, content caching and parental control among others.

Gi-LAN market opportunities according to an Intel Whitepaper citing an IHS Infonetics report are quite significant. The document highlights functions that are typically part of the Gi-LAN, including DPI, Mobile Core and EPC functions as well as Security and vRouters giving some guidance in a market estimated at over 6B$(1).  ABI  Research  forecasts  a  significant  increase  in  mobile  network  monitoring  and  optimization equipment with  web and video optimization, along with DPI investment, increasing to over US$5 billion by 2019(2).  


At present, the functions described above are mainly deployed on proprietary platforms using dedicated hardware architecture from a wide range of vendors. These dedicated fixed function platforms, in the form of physical appliances, each need to be managed separately, making the Gi‑LAN relatively inflexible and posing a challenge from both an evolutionary and operational perspective.  The static service function model, predominantly deployed today, must transition to an open-standards approach based on Software Defined Networking (SDN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Service Function Chaining (SFC) to enable a more flexible and scalable Gi-LAN that will allow CPSs to drastically reduce costs, innovate, and monetize on new services.


Advantech has been supplying high performance networking platforms to Network Equipment Providers (NEPs) for high-end packet processing on Intel Architecture leveraging Intel DPDK and Intel Hyperscan technologies for many DPI and content inspection use cases. With the advent of NFV, CSPs can leverage these platforms to transform their network architecture and to consolidate multiple functions onto a single platform.

One such platform which Advantech recently introduced is the FWA-6170, a high-end network appliance ideally suited for service function chaining in software defined networks in both data centers and telecommunications networks. The FWA-6170, is a powerful and flexible 2U platform that delivers up to wire speed IP packet classification using two Intel® Xeon® Platinum Processors with up to 28 cores each.  Its new security features and augmented platform modularity, enables equipment and service providers to build faster, more secure networks, bringing greater cost-efficiency to applications in the Gi-LAN while leaving sufficient overhead to anticipate future infrastructure changes.

FWA-6170 Platform Details

Based on the new Intel® Xeon® Processor Scalable Family, the FWA-6170 high-end network appliance has been designed for maximum performance, scalability and functionality in a 2U rack mount footprint. Equipped with a choice of processors from the Intel® Xeon® Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze series, this high-end network communications appliance is optimized for computing power, accelerated workloads and high speed, high density I/O with best-in-class energy efficiency.

Two Intel® Xeon® Processor Scalable Family CPUs provide the latest architectural enhancements, including rebalanced cache hierarchy, and new Intel® UltraPath Interconnect for increased bandwidth and transfer rates between sockets at up to 10.4GT/s. In addition the new processor family introduces 512-bit vector capability at up to 2x improvement in peak performance over previous AVX2 for the acceleration of enterprise-class workloads. Each socket now supports 6 memory channels and up to 12 DDR4 RDIMMs, an increase of 1.5x over the previous generation FWA-6520, with a speed increase to 2666 MHz for up to 768GB of ECC memory using the latest technology. Advanced RAS modes such as mirroring and sparing increase platform reliability. The FWA-6170’s thermal system design enables support for processors with up to 165W TDP. This allows the appliance to scale from 8 core CPUs to the highest performance 28 core processors available today.

With an abundance of PCI Express lanes, the FWA-6170 can support up to 8 Network Mezzanine Cards (NMCs) for modular, configurable networking I/O and acceleration. PCIe Gen3 technology on all NMC slots provides sufficient bandwidth to support multiple 40GbE and quad 10GbE modules as well as double sized NMCs for 100GbE connectivity. Support for two internal low-profile PCIe add-on cards enables further encryption offload in addition to on-chip PCH-based Intel® Quickassist depending on the appliance model.

Advanced Lights Out Management based on Aspeed’s latest iBMC AST2500 and AMI’s MegaRAC IPMI suite improves system manageability and reliability, providing platform thermal management, H/W monitoring and supervision. Remote firmware upgrade capability and hardware-based BIOS redundancy make the FWA-6170 an ideal platform for mission-critical and highly available networks. For enhanced platform security the FWA-6170 provides Trusted Platform Module TPM 1.2/2.0 support. Front and rear hot swappable FRUs such as power and fan modules along with service friendly design features such as fan failure LEDs further help to reduce system down time and enhance serviceability.

Management, IO and storage elements include two management Ethernet ports, two 10GbE SFP+ ports, a console port, two USB ports, a graphic-mode LCD module, LEDs for power/location/alert indication and two front-loadable 2.5” SATA HDDs/SSDs as well as two internal M.2 2260/2280 slots.

An optional Storage Expansion Kit replacing the top row of NMCs provides eight 2.5” drive bays

A new removable front panel cover placed in front of the 2.5” SATA bays allows fast and simple logo customization.

The FWA-6170 is CE, FCC, UL, CB, CCC, VCCI, RCM and RoHS compliant.

(1) Intel
(2) ABI Research