The Gigabit Nectar Project

The Gigabit Nectar project at CMU addresses the problem of building high-performance networks and works with applications groups to explore how their applications can benefit from the availability of high-speed networks. The Gigabit Nectar system forms the basis of the Nectar Testbed, one of the five national gigabit testbeds funded through CNRI. About ten people are involved in Gigabit Nectar. Gigabit Nectar is part of the a longer term effort called Nectar.

The emphasis of the network research has been on efficient protocol implementation and efficient data movement in and out of hosts, since this is the bottleneck in high-speed networks. This research started in the context of the original Nectar project (see papers on Nectar system) and the host interfacing work is now being continued in the Gigabit Nectar project. The group is also looking at how traffic characteristics influence network performance.

The focus of the applications effort is on distributed computing applications that run across heterogeneous systems, i.e. network-based multicomputing. This type of applications naturally benefits from high-bandwidth networks. One thrust of the research effort is programming tools that support distributed computing across networks. More recently the project started exploring other application domains such as remote medical consulting.

The Credit Net project is a follow on to Gigabit Nectar. It is a joint project with Harvard, BNR and Intel, and involves the development of a 622 Mbit/second flow-controled ATM network. As in the Gigabit Nectar project, the research is focused on building a system that supports applications effectively.