3. ARK Poll Mode Driver

The ARK PMD is a DPDK poll-mode driver for the Atomic Rules Arkville (ARK) family of devices.

More information can be found at the Atomic Rules website.

3.1. Overview

The Atomic Rules Arkville product is DPDK and AXI compliant product that marshals packets across a PCIe conduit between host DPDK mbufs and FPGA AXI streams.

The ARK PMD, and the spirit of the overall Arkville product, has been to take the DPDK API/ABI as a fixed specification; then implement much of the business logic in FPGA RTL circuits. The approach of working backwards from the DPDK API/ABI and having the GPP host software dictate, while the FPGA hardware copes, results in significant performance gains over a naive implementation.

While this document describes the ARK PMD software, it is helpful to understand what the FPGA hardware is and is not. The Arkville RTL component provides a single PCIe Physical Function (PF) supporting some number of RX/Ingress and TX/Egress Queues. The ARK PMD controls the Arkville core through a dedicated opaque Core BAR (CBAR). To allow users full freedom for their own FPGA application IP, an independent FPGA Application BAR (ABAR) is provided.

One popular way to imagine Arkville’s FPGA hardware aspect is as the FPGA PCIe-facing side of a so-called Smart NIC. The Arkville core does not contain any MACs, and is link-speed independent, as well as agnostic to the number of physical ports the application chooses to use. The ARK driver exposes the familiar PMD interface to allow packet movement to and from mbufs across multiple queues.

However FPGA RTL applications could contain a universe of added functionality that an Arkville RTL core does not provide or can not anticipate. To allow for this expectation of user-defined innovation, the ARK PMD provides a dynamic mechanism of adding capabilities without having to modify the ARK PMD.

The ARK PMD is intended to support all instances of the Arkville RTL Core, regardless of configuration, FPGA vendor, or target board. While specific capabilities such as number of physical hardware queue-pairs are negotiated; the driver is designed to remain constant over a broad and extendable feature set.

Intentionally, Arkville by itself DOES NOT provide common NIC capabilities such as offload or receive-side scaling (RSS). These capabilities would be viewed as a gate-level “tax” on Green-box FPGA applications that do not require such function. Instead, they can be added as needed with essentially no overhead to the FPGA Application.

The ARK PMD also supports optional user extensions, through dynamic linking. The ARK PMD user extensions are a feature of Arkville‚Äôs DPDK net/ark poll mode driver, allowing users to add their own code to extend the net/ark functionality without having to make source code changes to the driver. One motivation for this capability is that while DPDK provides a rich set of functions to interact with NIC-like capabilities (e.g. MAC addresses and statistics), the Arkville RTL IP does not include a MAC. Users can supply their own MAC or custom FPGA applications, which may require control from the PMD. The user extension is the means providing the control between the user’s FPGA application and the existing DPDK features via the PMD.

3.2. Device Parameters

The ARK PMD supports device parameters that are used for packet routing and for internal packet generation and packet checking. This section describes the supported parameters. These features are primarily used for diagnostics, testing, and performance verification under the guidance of an Arkville specialist. The nominal use of Arkville does not require any configuration using these parameters.


The Packet Director controls connectivity between Arkville’s internal hardware components. The features of the Pkt_dir are only used for diagnostics and testing; it is not intended for nominal use. The full set of features are not published at this level.

Format: Pkt_dir=0x00110F10


The packet generator parameter takes a file as its argument. The file contains configuration parameters used internally for regression testing and are not intended to be published at this level. The packet generator is an internal Arkville hardware component.

Format: Pkt_gen=./config/pg.conf


The packet checker parameter takes a file as its argument. The file contains configuration parameters used internally for regression testing and are not intended to be published at this level. The packet checker is an internal Arkville hardware component.

Format: Pkt_chkr=./config/pc.conf

3.3. Data Path Interface

Ingress RX and Egress TX operation is by the nominal DPDK API . The driver supports single-port, multi-queue for both RX and TX.

Refer to ark_ethdev.h for the list of supported methods to act upon RX and TX Queues.

3.4. Configuration Information

DPDK Configuration Parameters

The following configuration options are available for the ARK PMD:

  • CONFIG_RTE_LIBRTE_ARK_PMD (default y): Enables or disables inclusion of the ARK PMD driver in the DPDK compilation.
  • CONFIG_RTE_LIBRTE_ARK_PAD_TX (default y): When enabled TX packets are padded to 60 bytes to support downstream MACS.
  • CONFIG_RTE_LIBRTE_ARK_DEBUG_RX (default n): Enables or disables debug logging and internal checking of RX ingress logic within the ARK PMD driver.
  • CONFIG_RTE_LIBRTE_ARK_DEBUG_TX (default n): Enables or disables debug logging and internal checking of TX egress logic within the ARK PMD driver.
  • CONFIG_RTE_LIBRTE_ARK_DEBUG_STATS (default n): Enables or disables debug logging of detailed packet and performance statistics gathered in the PMD and FPGA.
  • CONFIG_RTE_LIBRTE_ARK_DEBUG_TRACE (default n): Enables or disables debug logging of detailed PMD events and status.

3.5. Building DPDK

See the DPDK Getting Started Guide for Linux for instructions on how to build DPDK.

By default the ARK PMD library will be built into the DPDK library.

For configuring and using UIO and VFIO frameworks, please also refer the documentation that comes with DPDK suite.

3.6. Supported ARK RTL PCIe Instances

ARK PMD supports the following Arkville RTL PCIe instances including:

  • 1d6c:100d - AR-ARKA-FX0 [Arkville 32B DPDK Data Mover]
  • 1d6c:100e - AR-ARKA-FX1 [Arkville 64B DPDK Data Mover]

3.7. Supported Operating Systems

Any Linux distribution fulfilling the conditions described in System Requirements section of the DPDK documentation or refer to DPDK Release Notes. ARM and PowerPC architectures are not supported at this time.

3.8. Supported Features

  • Dynamic ARK PMD extensions
  • Multiple receive and transmit queues
  • Jumbo frames up to 9K
  • Hardware Statistics

3.9. Unsupported Features

Features that may be part of, or become part of, the Arkville RTL IP that are not currently supported or exposed by the ARK PMD include:

  • PCIe SR-IOV Virtual Functions (VFs)
  • Arkville’s Packet Generator Control and Status
  • Arkville’s Packet Director Control and Status
  • Arkville’s Packet Checker Control and Status
  • Arkville’s Timebase Management

3.10. Pre-Requisites

  1. Prepare the system as recommended by DPDK suite. This includes environment variables, hugepages configuration, tool-chains and configuration
  2. Insert igb_uio kernel module using the command ‘modprobe igb_uio’
  3. Bind the intended ARK device to igb_uio module

At this point the system should be ready to run DPDK applications. Once the application runs to completion, the ARK PMD can be detached from igb_uio if necessary.

3.11. Usage Example

Follow instructions available in the document compiling and testing a PMD for a NIC to launch testpmd with Atomic Rules ARK devices managed by librte_pmd_ark.

Example output:

EAL: PCI device 0000:01:00.0 on NUMA socket -1
EAL:   probe driver: 1d6c:100e rte_ark_pmd
EAL:   PCI memory mapped at 0x7f9b6c400000
PMD: eth_ark_dev_init(): Initializing 0:2:0.1
ARKP PMD CommitID: 378f3a67
Configuring Port 0 (socket 0)
Port 0: DC:3C:F6:00:00:01
Checking link statuses...
Port 0 Link Up - speed 100000 Mbps - full-duplex