12 July 2004
Modern distributed applications utilize a rich variety of distributed services. Due to the computation-centric notions of modern machines, application-level implementations of these services are problematic for applications requiring high data transfer rates, for reasons that include the inability of modern architectures to efficiently execute computations with communication. Conversely,network-level implementations of services are limited due to the network's inability to interpret application-level data or execute application-level operations on such data. The emergence of programmable network processors capable of high-rate data transfers, with flexible interfaces for external reconfiguration, has created new possibilities for movement of processing into the network infrastructure. This thesis explores the extent to which programmable network processors can be used in conjunction with standard host nodes, to form enhanced computational host-ANP (Attached Network Processor) platforms that can deliver increased efficiency for variety of applications and services. The main contributions of this research are the creation of SPLITS, a Software architecture for Programmable LIghtweighT Stream handling, and its key abstraction stream handlers. SPLITS enables the dynamic configuration of data paths through the host-ANP nodes, and the dynamic creation, deployment and reconfiguration of application-level processing applied along these paths. With SPLITS, application-specific services can be dynamically mapped to the host, ANP, or both, to best exploit their joint capabilities. The basic abstraction used by SPLITS to represent instances of application-specific activities are stream handlers - parameterizable, lightweight, computation units that operate on data headers as well as application-level content. Experimental results demonstrate performance gains of executing various application-level services on ANPs, and demonstrate the importance of the SPLITS host-ANP nodes to support dynamically reconfigurable services, and to deal with the resource limitations on the ANPs.
Embedded applications have become more and more complex, increasing the demands on the communication network. For reasons such as safety and usability, there are real-time constraints that must be met. Also, to offer high performance, network protocols should offer efficient user services aimed at specific types of communication. At the same time, it is desirable to design and implement embedded networks with reduced cost and development time, which means using available hardware for standard networks. To that end, there is a trend towards using switched Ethernet for embedded systems because of its hight bit rate and low cost. Unfortunately, since switched Ethernet is not specifically designed for embedded systems, it has several limitations such as poor support for QoS because of FCFS queuing policy and high protocol overhead. This thesis contributes towards fulfilling these requirements by developing (i) real-time analytical frameworks for providing QoS guarantees in packet-switched networks and (II) packet-merging techniques to reduce the protocol overhead. We have developed two real-time analytical frameworks for networks with FCFS queuing in the switches, one for FCFS queuing in the source nodes and one for EDF queuing in the source nodes. The correctness and tightness of the real-time analytical frameworks for different network components in a singel-switch neetwork are given by strict theoretical proofs, and the performance of our end-to-end analyses is evaluated by simulations. In conjunction with this, we have compared our results to Network Calculus (NC), a commonly used analytical scheme for FCFS queuing. Our comparison study shows that our anlysis is more accurate than NC for singel-switch networks. To reduce the protocol overhead, we have proposed two active switched Ethernet approaches, one for real-time many-to-many communication and the other for the real-time short message traffic that is often present in embedded applications. A significant improvement in performance achieved by using our proposed active networks is demonstrated. Although our approaches are exemplified using switched Ethernet, the general approaches are not limited to switched Ethernet networks but can easily be moified to other similar packet-switched networks.
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