Posted by: Spacehamster74 | 07/08/2009

Can Flow Management make YouTube go faster?

I'm a member of the IEEE Organization, and I also enjoy reading the IEEE Spectrum magazine from time to time. It's a great place to go if you want to discover the latest in technology. I was particularly interested to read an article about the Anagran FR-1000, designed by Lawrence G. Roberts. Why is this so exciting? Because its designer claims that it will cut down on network congestion, a problem which has only become worse with the advent of YouTube and Peer-to-Peer networks.

The concept of data flow might be more easily understood in the case
of a voice or video stream, but it applies to all traffic over the
Internet. Key to our approach is the fact that each packet contains a
full identification of the flow it belongs to. This identification,
encapsulated by the packet’s header according to the Internet Protocol
version 4, or IPv4, consists of five values: source address, source
port, destination address, destination port, and protocol.

All packets that are part of the same flow carry the same five-value
identification. So in flow management, you have to effectively
process—or route—only the first packet. You’d then take the routing
parameters that apply to that first packet and store them in a hash
table, a data structure that allows for fast lookup. When a new packet
comes in, you’d check if its identification is in the hash, and if it
is, that means the new packet is part of a flow you’ve already routed.
You’d then quickly dispatch—the more accurate term is ”switch”—the
packet straight to an output port, thus saving time and power.

In other words, rather than treating incoming information as individual bits, this new network router treats information as a continuous stream of data. The end result for us internet users is being able to watch videos without the constant stuttering that currently plagues us at the moment.

It's an exciting concept, and I for one wish Lawrence G. Roberts and his team every success in their endeavours.


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