David Farber (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fri, 18-Mar-88 06:38:56 est
The following is abstracted from a note on our experiences with a line
of research aimed at eamining a radically different approach to "off
loading" designed for the very high speed networking era -- "Gigabit
networking". I would be happy to supply the full text and/or memnet
documents to any interested people.
Some Thoughts on the Impact of Very High Speed Networking on
This note proposes a completely different view of computer
networking, a view which derives from experiments started in my
group at the University of Delaware (and continuing at the
University of Pennsylvania) resulting in the creation a novel
local network architecture called "MEMNet." MEMNet is a research
system aimed at exploring ways of removing the severe processing
overhead found in distributed operating systems. The approach
MEMNet takes is to treat the network as a mechanism which allows
a processor to access the collective memory space of the
distributed system. Thus, when a processor in a MEMNet
environment needs to send data via the high-speed local network,
it simply writes to memory addresses which are in the memory
space of the recipient processor. Similarly, the recipient
processor, when it chooses to examine data which has been "sent"
by another processor, reads its local memory (or physically-
remote memory, in a hierarchical memory system) simply by the
normal memory access mechanisms of that processor. In the MEMNet
environment, there is a set of special memory controllers with
adequate caching, connected together via a high-speed (200
megabit) ring. The caching provides a mechanism equivalent to the
snooping caches of modern multiprocessors.
During this research, we examined the architecture of software
systems which would run in a MEMNet environment. Much to our
surprise (although we should not have been surprised), the
software implications of such a distributed environment are
essentially non-existent. That is, a software system written to
run on the fully distributed MEMNet environment is essentially,
in all respects, identical to the same software system designed
to run on a simple multiprocessor, shared-memory environment.
The issues one must face in designing the architecture of
future wide-area, high-speed networks ......
In summary, this note suggests that we reexamine what we mean
by "networking" in the future. It essentially suggests that
networking is simply a special case of interprocess communication
over a widely-distributed computer system, and thus can take
advantage of technology already developed.
David J. Farber; Prof. of CS and EE, Director - Distributed Systems Labs.
University of Pennsylvania/200 South 33rd Street/Philadelphia, PA 19104-6389
Tele: 215-898-9508; FAX: 215-274-8192
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