The New Planetary-Scale Net
Gelsinger suggested that the Internet could be transformed from a data transmission pipe into a vast platform for hosting a wide array of services. The transformation can be achieved in the similar fashion as how the Internet was first implemented, by superimposing a layer of functionality on top of pre-existing packet networks. The new kind of overlay suggested by Gelsinger is known as computational services overlay
This overlay consists of various computers (not necessarily Intel-based) spread throughout the core of the Internet at key intersections, such as routing centers, peering points and gateways. Each of these computers will host services, which effectively turn the entire Net into a huge platform providing various services. Because it's a huge planetary platform, it can be programmed to be intelligent enough to understand and adapt to various Internet-related problems like addressability, load and security threats.
Gelsinger called on the industry and potential users to join the PlanetLab Consortium which is a joint effort between companies, universities and governmental organizations that runs a large-scale prototype of the computational services overlay. Intel currently serves as the primary catalyst of this project, with over 150 participants, including HP, France Telecom, AT&T Labs, NEC Labs, Cambridge University, Princeton University, UC Berkeley, national research educations networks in Brazil, Canada and China, as well as the Internet 2 organization.
) was founded in March 2002 and it has quickly grown to more than 440 machines in over 194 sites in 22 countries. It is hoped that PlanetLab will provide the global research community to explore and define the future of the Internet. Today, there are hundreds of new services that run on this platform, including distributed hash tables, event processing, network mapping, net fault mapping, object location including improved DNS services, Internet worm detection, content distribution, dynamic Webcasting, massively multi-player games, high-performance file transfers and many more. These services running on PlanetLab are decentralized, with pieces of them running on many machines spread across the global Internet. The beauty of this arrangement is that these machines can self-organize to form their own networks while including some form of application processing within the network.
Gelsinger believes that the computational services overlay would open the Internet to a new era of innovation and at the same time, drive the industry towards new usage models and business opportunities. "It would provide a platform on which Web services can run and a way to connect grid computing sites and utility data centers. It sits above the new physical infrastructure supplied by Internet 2 and above the networking layer where IPv6 functions, adding a new stratum of higher-level functionality to the Internet," says Gelsinger.
Pat Gelsinger talked about how computational services overlay can help upgrade the Internet.