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Is it possible to perform kernel bypass and have a NIC send data to the user space (where I will write my network stack) with no copying, without having to purchase a specialised Solarflare etc NIC?

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Yes, see netmap(4) manual page:

http://www.manualpages.de/FreeBSD/FreeBSD-8.3-RELEASE/man4/netmap.4.html

Linux also has netmap AFAIK.

http://info.iet.unipi.it/~luigi/netmap/

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The first link says: "netmap requires explicit support in device drivers"- which kinda suggests specialised hardware? I was actually going to write a device driver for a "normal" NIC (ie. one not like Solarflare). – mezamorphic Aug 22 '13 at 11:05

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