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The usage of general-purpose processors externally attached to routers to play virtually the role of active coprocessors seems a safe and cost-effective approach to add active network capabilities to existing routers. This paper reviews this router-assistant way of making active nodes, addresses the benefits and limitations of this technique, and describes a new platform based on it using an enhanced commercial router. The features new to this type of architecture are transparency, IPv4 and IPv6 support, and full control over layer 3 and above. A practical experience with two applications for path characterization and a transport gateway managing multi-QoS is described.
Date of Conference: 2002