Architecture, Design, Simulation and Performance Evaluation for Implementing ALAX -- The ATM LAN Access Switch Integrating the IEEE 1355 Serial Bus

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1997

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IEEE 1355 is a serial bus standard for Heterogeneous Inter Connect (HIC) developed for "enabling high-performance, scalable, modular and parallel systems to be built with low system integration cost." However to date, few systems have been built around this standard specification. In this thesis, we propose ALAX -- an internetworking switching device based on IEEE 1355. The aim of the thesis is two-fold. First, we discuss and summarize research works leading to the architecture, design and simulation development for ALAX; we synthesize and analyze relevant data collected from the simulation experiments of the 4- port model of ALAX (i.e., 4-by-4 with four input and output queues) -- these activities were conducted during the 2-year length of the project. Secondly, we expand the original 4-by-4 size of the ALAX simulation model into 8-, 12- and 16-port models and present and interpret the outcomes. Thus, overall we establish a performance assessment of the ALAX switch, and also identify several critical design measurements to support the ALAX prototype implementation. We review progresses made in Local Area Networks (LANs) where traditional software-enabled bridges or routers are being replaced in many instances by hardware-enabled switches to enhance network performance. Within that context, ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) technology emerges as an alternative for the next generation of high-speed LANs. Hence, ALAX incarnates our effective approach to build an ATM-LAN interface using a suitable switching platform. ALAX currently provides the capability to conveniently interconnect legacy Ethernet and ATM- based networks. Its distributed architecture features a multi- processor environment of T9000 transputers with parallel processing capability, a 32-by-32 way non-blocking crossbar fabric (C104 chipset) partitioned into Transport (i.e., Data) and Control planes, and many other modules interlaced with IEEE 1355- based connectors. It also employs existing and emerging protocols such as LANE (LAN Emulation), IEEE 802.3 and SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol). We provide the component breakdown of the ALAX simulation model based on Optimized Network Engineering Tools (OPNET). The critical parameters for the study are acceptable processor speeds and queuing sizes of shared memory buffer at each switch port. The performance metric used is the end-to-end packet delay. Finally, we end the thesis with conclusive recommendations pertaining to performance and design measurement, and a brief summary of areas for further research study.

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