TLS Transmit Offload to Network Devices

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Encrypted Internet traffic is becoming the norm, spearheaded by the use Transport Layer Socket (TLS) to secure TCP connections. This trend introduces a great challenge to data center servers, as the symmetric encryption and authentication of TLS records adds significant CPU overhead. New CPU capabilities, such as the x86 AES-NI instruction set, alleviate the problem, yet encryption overhead remains high. Alternatively, cryptographic accelerators require dedicated HW, consume significant memory bandwidth, and increase latency. We propose to offload TLS symmetric crypto processing to the network device. Our solution does not require a TCP Offload Engine (TOE). Rather, crypto processing is moved to a kernel TLS module (kTLS), which may leverage inline TLS acceleration offered by network devices. Transmitted packets of offloaded TLS connections pass through the stack unencrypted, and are processed on the fly by the device. We will describe the roles and requirements of the kTLS module, specify the device offload APIs, and detail the TLS processing flows. Finally, we will demonstrate the potential performance benefits of network device TLS offloads.

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