Expanding Throughput

By John Pallatto  |  Posted 2004-05-05 Print this article Print

Researchers at Intel are following five research paths to find ways to keep expanding packet throughput to avoid future I/O bottlenecks, said Thom Sawicki, senior manager of business development and network architecture at Intel.

These include direct cache access that seeks to reduce the number of system memory reads required to process each packet. Lightweight threading enables faster thread-switching to speed up throughput. Asynchronous, low-cost copy simplifies system memory copy to reduce the number of CPU cycles the process requires.

Protocol stack optimization is an effort by Intel researchers to improve the performance of the TCP/IP stack that is virtually unchanged since it was implemented in the early 1980s. They have used a number of design and optimization techniques to created an enhanced stack that reduces protocol processing cycles by nearly 50 percent.

The final technique is network stack affinity/partitioning, which seeks to improve data throughput by partitioning application processing from the operating-system workload.

Intel also demonstrated a universal communicator handset prototype that is designed to readily switch among heterogeneous wireless networking, including GSM/GPRS, 802.11b, GPS and Bluetooth.

It will allow users to switch to different networks to access voice, Internet and diverse wireless applications with the same handset, depending upon their need and their geographic location. The handsets will support WWAN-WLAN voice call roaming, streaming multimedia and cross-network GPS and WLAN location.

The WiMedia Alliance recently announced its approval of an Intel-Led ultrawideband spec. Click here to read more. The research will eventually become part of Intels handheld chip and reference design offerings over the next several years.

Intel also demonstrated wireless sensor network ecosystems that can monitor and report the performance of mechanical and electronic devices for industrial applications. For example, Intel is proving the concept by developing wireless sensors that monitor equipment at its own chip fabrication facilities in Oregon.

The goal of the research is to find out whether the technology is effective enough to predict the impending failure of equipment, so it can be repaired before it causes downtime that cuts productivity and profits.

The system uses Intels iMote sensor network node in combination with machine monitoring technology from Rockwell Automation Inc., Wilcoxon Research Inc. and others.

Intel is also conducting research into various "ubiquitous computing" applications, such as ways to use existing camera phones as interactive devices that work with computing devices in the environment. Intels approach uses visual tags that can be decoded by camera phones to enable short-range communications between the phone and computers.

Check out eWEEK.coms Server and Networking Center at http://servers.eweek.com for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.

John Pallatto John Pallatto is eWEEK.com's Managing Editor News/West Coast. He directs eWEEK's news coverage in Silicon Valley and throughout the West Coast region. He has more than 35 years of experience as a professional journalist, which began as a report with the Hartford Courant daily newspaper in Connecticut. He was also a member of the founding staff of PC Week in March 1984. Pallatto was PC Week's West Coast bureau chief, a senior editor at Ziff Davis' Internet Computing magazine and the West Coast bureau chief at Internet World magazine.

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