PicOS™: Pica8's OS for Open Switches

The First Hardware Agnostic, Open Network Operating System

Pica8™ is the first in the world to offer hardware-agnostic open switches. A pioneer in software-defined networking (SDN), we pair high-performance, "white box" switch hardware with PicOS: our hardware-agnostic, Linux-based open network operating system that supports standards-based Layer-2/Layer-3 protocols and Industry-leading OpenFlow 1.4. In one complete package, Pica8 provides the physical switch, Debian Linux network operating system, comprehensive switching and routing features, and the fulfilled promise of open networking.

Pica8 Network Operating System Overview

What makes PicOS open?

  • PicOS is hardware agnostic: because of PicOS's hardware abstraction layer, the operating system is not tightly coupled to any switching ASIC, CPU or memory hardware. We continue to expand our ODM partners (including Accton and Quanta Computer), offering a portfolio of pre-qualified white box, bare metal switches to select from
  • Linux operating system, so you can use your existing tools (such as Puppet, Chef or CFEngine) for hands-free provisioning and myriad APIs through the Debian-Linux environment, helping you personalize Pica8 switches to support your open network
  • PicOS supports OpenFlow 1.4, through Open vSwitch (OVS) v2.0 integration: OVS runs as a process within PicOS, providing the OpenFlow interface for external programmability

PicOS: Two Powerful Modes of Operation

  • Open vSwitch (OVS) Mode provides Industry-leading OpenFlow 1.4 support and integration with open networking software like CloudStack or OpenStack
  • Layer-2/Layer-3 Mode enables seamless integration into existing networks
Pica8 OS (PicOS) Architecture

Pica8 makes open networking faster and easier. Read more about our open switches and open networking, and explore PicOS's operation modes below

Layer-2 / Layer-3 Mode
Open vSwitch (OVS) Mode

  • Switching platform using a Debian Linux network operating system
  • Programmable and customize by leveraging vast high-quality Linux tools

  • Industry-leading OpenFlow 1.4 support through Open vSwitch (OvS) 2.0 integration
  • Leverage production ready OVS switches for your CloudStack / OpenStack projects

  • High-performance Layer 2 / Layer 3 switching platform for both IPv4 and IPv6 networks, seamlessly integrating into existing architectures
  • Tune the fabric to meet your application needs, selectable store-forward or cut-through switching modes for ultra-low latency
  • Interoperable with multiple open-source OpenFlow controllers (Ryu, Floodlight, NOX, Trema)
  • Leverage different controllers and reference architectures


  • PicOS, a multiprocess OS, ensures each process has independent memory space, thread control, and interrupt handling for improved feature scaling

  • Seamlessly add new protocols to PicOS, a multiprocess OS
  • Investment protection as your application needs change