[ovs-discuss] Why is OVS patch used instead of veth pairs to connect OVS bridges?

Justin Pettit jpettit at ovn.org
Mon Feb 8 07:59:34 UTC 2016

> On Feb 7, 2016, at 2:12 AM, Dragos Ilie <dragos.ilie at bth.se> wrote:
> The explanation I've seen is that the OVS patch interface is optimized for OpenvSwitch. I would like to understand what is being optimized.
> I've seen a reply on the OVS mailing list that says OVS patch ports are implemented entirely inside OVS userspace. I don't understand how this is done without a performance penalty. I've thought that as soon a VM sends a packet to its vNIC, the packet will cross from user space to kernel space over the TAP interface. Eventually the packet reaches the OVS bridge (br-int, for example). If at that point the packet must be sent to next OVS bridge over a patch port, does it mean it crosses back to user space? That would incur a performance hit.

You are correct that that would incur a performance hit, but that's not how it's implemented.

> I am hypothesizing that perhaps the patch port is just a configuration construct to tell the OVS kernel module that the ports on two OVS bridges are connected. Then, somehow the kernel module is able to forward the packets between the two bridges more efficiently than over a veth pair. It would be nice if somebody can confirm if this is the correct explanation or if there is a better one.

That's basically correct.  Regardless of how many bridges you configure in OVS, the kernel module only ever instantiates one.  If two bridges are connected by a patch port, when userspace is processing an incoming packet and it's determined that the packet crosses a patch port, then userspace also calculates what happens in the next bridge and pushes down a kernel flow that directly connects the two ports.  This yields significantly better performance than a veth pair.

You can see this yourself by just setting up a couple of bridges connected with patch ports, run some traffic, and then run "ovs-dpctl dump-flows".


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