FlowNet: An Inexpensive High-Performance Network
The only way to solve this problem is to add information to the frame to give switches guidance on how to handle individual frames. For example, if a frame is tagged as part of an e-mail message, a switch would know that it is perfectly acceptable to delay this frame, but also that it should probably not be discarded. On the other hand, if this frame is part of a video stream, then a switch would know that if this frame cannot be transmitted right away, it should be discarded, resulting in a small glitch in the video. Information on how a frame should be handled in a congested network is known as quality-of-service information or QoS.
QoS information can be provided in three ways. The first is to completely redesign the network from the ground up. This is the approach used by the Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) network design. ATM is a circuit-switched rather than a packet-switched network. In a packet-switched network like Ethernet, each data frame contains its destination address in its header. The process of delivering a frame to its destination is similar to that of delivering a letter. At every switch, the destination address is looked up in a table to see where it should go next. Circuit-switched networks like ATM put the destination address into only one frame, called a flow-setup frame or flow-setup cell. The flow-setup cell establishes a route through the network, much like placing a phone call does. Subsequent frames are automatically routed through this pre-established connection. The flow-setup process allows the ATM network to allocate network resources ahead of time in order to provide quality-of-service guarantees.
ATM's circuit-switched design is fundamentally incompatible with Ethernet's packet-switched design. ATM also differs from Ethernet in the size of its frames. Where Ethernet uses variable-size frames, ATM uses fixed-size 53-byte frames or cells, of which five bytes are header and 48 bytes per frame are payload data. This leads to a serious problem: the rate at which cells must be routed is so fast that it can be done only with custom hardware, which makes ATM very expensive.
The second way to provide QoS information is to put it in the data portion of an Ethernet frame. This is the approach being taken by the Ethernet community, through protocols such as RSVP. The advantage to this approach is that it is backwards compatible with existing hardware, which is important because an enormous Ethernet infrastructure is already installed. ATM can be made to interoperate with Ethernet through a technology called LAN emulation (LANE), but it is both difficult and inefficient.
The problem with implementing QoS using the existing Ethernet frame format is that most existing hardware will not recognize the new protocols associated with QoS. This can undermine the QoS mechanisms by injecting frames into the network which are not properly tagged or by not handling tagged frames properly. Thus, while this approach is backwards compatible with existing hardware, it probably won't be reliable unless most of the existing infrastructure is replaced.
The third approach is to add QoS information to the Ethernet header. This is a non-backwards-compatible change, but not as radical a redesign as ATM, and it can be done in a way that makes it easy to interoperate the new network with existing hardware. This is the approach we have taken in the design of FlowNet.
Like ATM, FlowNet is a switched network based on fixed-size cells. Unlike ATM, FlowNet cells are large—800 bytes instead of 53. This allows room for a 14-byte Ethernet header plus an additional QoS extension. The QoS extension header is 18 bytes, making the full FlowNet header 32 bytes long. The remaining 768 bytes (=256+512) are data payload.
FlowNet interoperates with Ethernet through a simple bridge device. To convert a FlowNet cell into an Ethernet frame, the bridge simply strips off the QoS extension. To go the other way, it generates a QoS extension with default or user-configured values. For example, the bridge could be programmed to give frames from certain workstations high priority, while frames from other workstations receive low priority.
|Bitcoin on Amazon! Sort of...||Sep 28, 2016|
|Free Today: September Issue of Linux Journal (Retail value: $5.99)||Sep 27, 2016|
|nginx||Sep 27, 2016|
|Epiq Solutions' Sidekiq M.2||Sep 26, 2016|
|Nativ Disc||Sep 23, 2016|
|Android Browser Security--What You Haven't Been Told||Sep 22, 2016|
- Free Today: September Issue of Linux Journal (Retail value: $5.99)
- Bitcoin on Amazon! Sort of...
- Android Browser Security--What You Haven't Been Told
- Epiq Solutions' Sidekiq M.2
- Readers' Choice Awards 2013
- The Many Paths to a Solution
- Nativ Disc
- Identity: Our Last Stand
- Tech Tip: Really Simple HTTP Server with Python
Pick up any e-commerce web or mobile app today, and you’ll be holding a mashup of interconnected applications and services from a variety of different providers. For instance, when you connect to Amazon’s e-commerce app, cookies, tags and pixels that are monitored by solutions like Exact Target, BazaarVoice, Bing, Shopzilla, Liveramp and Google Tag Manager track every action you take. You’re presented with special offers and coupons based on your viewing and buying patterns. If you find something you want for your birthday, a third party manages your wish list, which you can share through multiple social- media outlets or email to a friend. When you select something to buy, you find yourself presented with similar items as kind suggestions. And when you finally check out, you’re offered the ability to pay with promo codes, gifts cards, PayPal or a variety of credit cards.Get the Guide