Quality, Quality, Quality, we hear the word everywhere but what exactly does it mean? Everybody says they have it, but ultimately we should care about quality as an empirical measure. QoS (Quality of Service) has been much used to imply a more specific attribute of quality as well as a feature that allows control over specific traffic flows. QoS is typically linked to one or more defined metrics and an associated SLA (Service Level Agreement), e.g., average bandwidth or latency. Quality of Experience (QoE) is now just as important, if not more so, as it is often more appropriately named "Quality of User Experience." It is a more subjective, qualitative metric rather than the typically empirical QoS, but if the movie you are watching is “choppy” that’s all you care about and most importantly that is what will convince a user to switch providers. The demand for equipment that can measure/manage QoE is increasing. The overall market size for specific QoE testing equipment is approximately $500M; it is growing however, and the contribution towards overall revenue protection and churn prevention should not be underestimated.
Voice networks have used qualitative measurements for many years e.g., MOS (Mean Opinion Score) using both humans and machine simulations. QoE systems can also take both approaches, and as application scenarios differ so do the approaches to measuring and managing. There are, however, a number of common characteristics:
•Segmenting application elements – It is crucial to be able to identify which element of an application is
responsible for and related to positive and/or negative user experience.
•Real time measurement – If one is trying to gauge what a real user might experience, one needs to be
able to track the real-time ebbs and flows of the traffic and overall application performance.
•Packet level inspections – Being able to inspect packets and identify exactly what is going on with an
application and specific user at any given point in time is at the core of any QoE system.
Creating a QoE monitoring and measurement solution requires access to the contents of the underlying packets within the network and being able to assess different traffic mixes and scenarios. Technologically, the ideal platform for such an application must bring both network processing and high packet throughput together to maximize subscriber monitoring. This makes Advantech’s Packetarium platforms a perfect choice. Based on the industry’s latest Network Processors with eight to thirty-two cores and packet acceleration advantages, the NCP-3120 and NCP-7560 bring all the necessary attributes on which to build a QoE application.
Packetarium Network Processor Platforms for QoE Applications
The NCP-3120, based on the 6-core Cavium OCTEON II CN6335, brings new scalability to the Packetarium range. Network Processor Boards used in the high-end system integrate seamlessly into the 1U platform to facilitate software re-use and allow OEMs to market entry-level variants for cost-sensitive higher volume deployment.
The system is designed with flexibility in mind, and offers a range of replaceable front I/O cards for GbE and 10 GbE connectivity as well as a standard PCIe x8 card expansion slot. With the accelerated packet processing capabilities of the OCTEON II, the NCP-3120 is a cost effective platform that meets a wide range of QoE measurement and enhancement requirements. It also supports up to eight 2.5” SATA-2 Solid State Disks for video stream caching or database applications.
The NCP-3120 runs Debian Linux and will also be available with 6WINDGate software, which simplifies the integration of high-performance packet processing into multi-core networking equipment. The 6WINDGate software solution includes a comprehensive set of high-performance Layer 2 through Layer 4 networking protocols that accelerates time-to-market while maximizing the performance of Packetarium Octeon II-based products.
The NCP-7560 represents the high perform¬ance end of Advantech’s Packetarium™ product line. It integrates up to eight powerful, multi-core Packetarium™ Network Processing Boards for wire-speed packet processing, providing up to 80 Gbps throughput. The main carrier board provides high-speed switched interconnects between boards, along with storage, management and external network connections. Each Network Processing Board is linked by dual XAUI ports to a Broadcom BCM56820 10 GbE switch on the carrier board. The 10 GbE switch also provides six front panel 10 GbE SFP+ ports and sixteen GbE SFP ports via a Broadcom GbE switch. A SAS controller connects to two AMC slots for SAS/SATA 2.5" storage. The carrier board incorporates a Freescale MPC8545 local processor for overall switch and system management and provides two front panel 100 Mbps ports for remote management.
•Scalable from 1 to 8 multi-core Packetarium™ Network Processing Boards
•Cavium Octeon™ Plus
•6 x 10GbE and 16 x 1GbE external interfaces
•24-port 10GbE switch w/ L2 switch management
•Hot Swappable, 850 W redundant AC or DC power supplies
•SAS/SATA controller for two AMC’s with 2.5" storage devices
•Wind River CGL Linux and 6WINDGate™ support
•Designed for NEBS