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Network feature extraction involves the storage and classification of network packet activity. Although primarily employed in network intrusion detection systems, feature extraction is also used to determine various other aspects of a network's behavior such as total traffic and average connection size. Current software methods used for extraction of network features fail to meet the performance requirements of next-generation high-speed networks. In this paper, we propose an FPGA-based reconfigurable architecture for feature extraction of large high-speed networks. Our design makes use of parallel rows of hash functions and sketch tables in order to process network packets at a very high throughput. We present a detailed description of our architecture and its implementation on a Xilinx Virtex-II Pro FPGA board, and provide cycle-accurate timing results for feature extraction of input networking benchmark data. Our results demonstrate real-world throughputs of as high as 3.32 Gbps, with speedups reaching 18x when compared to an equivalent software implementation.
Date of Conference: 12-14 Dec. 2007