Software-defined networks (SDNs) are the future networks that enable the system to be more flexible and programmable using a centralized controller. Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) serve as exemplary hardware to implement these adaptable networks. Ternary content-addressable memory (TCAM) is an essential part of every network to perform packet classification and forwarding, but they are missing in modern FPGAs. Researchers and FPGA vendors have proposed several designs to emulate TCAM using available memories on FPGA, but they are power inefficient due to the activating of entire circuitry in a single search operation. In this brief, we propose a novel power-aware reconfigurable FPGA-based TCAM architecture that enables only a portion of the hardware to perform the search operation. We performed an extensive design space exploration to find the optimal number of banks on Xilinx FPGAs, which provides the maximum power saving. Moreover, we propose a solution to bank overflow using backup CAM (BUC) to handle the overflowed CAM entries. The proposed TCAM improves the power consumption by 40% and maintains one-clock cycle update latency with no compromise on the throughput of the system compared with the state-of-the-art FPGA-based TCAM architectures.
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RPE-TCAM: Reconfigurable Power-Efficient Ternary Content-Addressable Memory on FPGAs