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Another downside is that if you do networking in userspace, portability becomes your problem. If you do TCP/IP in the kernel, it works on nearly everything: just about any brand of Ethernet card, and even exotic non-Ethernet stuff (ISDN, whatever). If you do it in Snabb Switch, according to the wiki it currently supports exactly one class of interface: Intel-branded ethernet cards. Of course, I expect that will expand, but each one of these user-space networking stacks will have to ship with its own complete driver set to reach the same level of portability.

True. Or we might end up sharing drivers between projects too.

In my experience high-end systems choose hardware to match software, so you only need to support one suitable option. The main reason we would add support for a new NIC is if it turns out to be better in some way e.g. as Mellanox support 40G now and Intel don't.

In Snabb Switch have a lot of 10G/40G NICs online for people to play with now: https://groups.google.com/d/msg/snabb-devel/PXOsv0uLQCE/HjPj...

Realistically that isn't much of an issue. If you are doing something at this level, you pick your hardware for the task. You don't need to support every random old dell PC someone wants to use like a general purpose OS has too (linux, the BSDs, etc). And of course, intel cards are not hard to find.

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