Due to dramatic increases in circuits speed the traditional system buses are limited in length (e.g., PCI is limited to 8") and cannot provide the traditional system-wide support. Therefore, the system-wide connectivity is provided by a high performance networks operating in very close quarters, having the generic name System Area Networks (SANs).
Many vendors today use such SANs inside computer platforms to connect processors to IO devices, processors to memory, and processors to processors. Most existing SANs are proprietary, and don't interoperate with each other, not unsimilar to the early stages of LAN development.
In order to be able to interconnect Massively Parallel Processing systems (MPPs) and to interconnect workstations into MPP-like clusters there is a need to unify the SANs and to provide means for interoperability among them.
PktWay is designed to provide a uniform interface for a wide variety of SANs, such that the higher levels (such as IP) would be able to use SANs in a uniform manner. An IP driver for PktWay would be able to use PktWay between heterogeneous processors as if they were all on a single SAN.
PktWay would be designed to provide interoperability among closely located heterogeneous processors at high speed. Pktway will sacrifice scalability and some generality for high performance. Hence, PktWay will supplement IP for high performance and for fine granularity of processors.
802.1, the link level control protocol is above LANs, such as the various Ethernets, FDDI, and Token Ring, at Level-2, and below IP, at Level-3.
Similarly, PktWay will be above the various SANs (such as RACEway and Paragon) and below IP.
PktWay will define separately:
* End-to-End protocol (and packet format) * Router-to-Router protocol (and packet format) * Resource discovery and allocation
The members of the PktWay Working Group will design, specify, document, propose, implement, and evaluate the above three protocols that define the PktWay operation.
The members of the working group will also produce reference software for PktWay.
Based on initial reactions it is expected that the working group will include members from academia, government, and industry, covering the software, hardware, and communication aspects of PktWay.
All the work that has been performed until now on PktWay is in the public domain. The PktWay Working Group will only handle public domain information. All the members of the PktWay Working Group will be notified that the working group cannot guard any trade secrets, nor limit the distribution of any proprietary information presented to it.