[P4-dev] table questions

LJ Wobker ljw at barefootnetworks.com
Sun Jul 26 12:32:25 EDT 2015

Generally if you insert a new key it overwrites the existing one.  Keys are
assumed to be unique.  I suppose you could design your target/API to have a
different behavior, but I think the majority of use cases (think “updating
routing information in the FIB”) are best served by the overwrite-if-exists

The API will (or at least “should”) throw an error if you try to insert N+1
elements into a table of size N.  Again, I suppose you COULD write a
target/API that behaves differently…

The way the language is structured is that if you need to add headers to a
packet, you need to have those headers represented in the parse graph, so
that when the packet is deparsed to the wire you have that path in the
parse tree.  So while you have have “different headers with varying
lengths” you can’t really have “variable length headers”.  The parse tree
must land on a node that has a fixed length.

To do TLV type processing, you’d have to represent the length (generally by
a branch based on the type) somewhere in the parse greph.


*From:* P4-dev [mailto:p4-dev-bounces at p4.org] *On Behalf Of *brian fiegen
*Sent:* Sunday, July 26, 2015 4:48 AM
*To:* p4-dev at p4.org
*Subject:* [P4-dev] table questions

I have a few questions about tables:

   - suppose one inserts a <key1, value1> into a table and then at some
   point in the future inserts a <key1, value2> into the table.  Does this
   operation result in both entries in the table?  Or the most recent one?  Or
   is the result of these operations unknown?
   - if one defines a table to be of size 50 and there are 50 elements in
   the table and 51st unique element is added to the table, what happens?Does
   an error get returned and the 51st element isn’t inserted?  Does one of the
   existing elements get randomly picked and removed to make room?
   - Does a default table action consume a spot in the table?
   - Is it possible to insert into a table a “value" which has variable
   length?   Basically I’m thinking of this “value” as being a sequence of
   bytes that are a header to be inserted into the packet.    What would be
   the mechanism to reference and process this variable length byte sequence
   on the action side?

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