Packet Classification Using Extended TCAMs

  • Spitznagel E
  • Taylor D
  • Turner J
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CAMs are the most popular practical method for implementing packet classification in high performance routers. Their principal drawbacks are high power consumption and inefficient representation of filters with port ranges. A recent paper [11] showed how partitioned TCAMs can be used to implement IP route lookup with dramatically lower power consumption. We extend the ideas in [11] to address the more challenging problem of general packet classification. We describe two extensions to the standard TCAM architecture. The first organizes the TCAM as a two level hierarchy in which an index block is used to enable/disable the querying of the main storage blocks. The second incorporates circuits for range comparisons directly within the TCAM memory array. Extended TCAMs can deliver high performance (100 million lookups per second) for large filter sets (100,000 filters), while reducing power consumption by a factor of ten and improving space efficiency by a factor of three.

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  • Ed Spitznagel

  • David Taylor

  • Jonathan Turner

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