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Protocol boosters: applying programmability to network infrastructures

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4 Author(s)

This article describes a novel methodology for protocol design, using incremental construction of the protocol from elements called protocol boosters on an as-needed basis. Protocol boosters are an adaptation technique that allows dynamic and efficient protocol customization to heterogeneous environments. By design, the boosting mechanism is under control of a policy, which determines when augmentation is required. Thus, many portions of a protocol stack execute only as necessary, permitting significant increases in performance relative to general-purpose protocols. Design principles for protocol boosters are presented, as well as an example booster. Two implementation platforms are described: (1) an augmented Linux operating system, which is freely available to other researchers; and (2) a rapidly reprogrammable hardware prototype, called the Programmable Protocol Processing Pipeline (P4), which is based on off-the-shelf FPGA technology. Since protocol boosters are programmed functions and can be network-resident, a programmable network infrastructure is necessary to exploit their full capability. Thus, protocol boosters are an ideal application for an on-the-fly programmable network infrastructure

Published in:

Communications Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:36 ,  Issue: 10 )

Date of Publication:

Oct 1998

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