is an up to date survey of what's happening in
high bandwidth networking. It begins by describing the details of
the new networks themselves, with a chapter on fiber optics, four
chapters on cell-networking (in particular ATM and switch technology)
and one on packet networks. The rest of the book deals with more general
networking issues that raise special problems with very high bandwidths.
How do we go about producing applications, hosts and protocols that can
use gigabit bandwidths? Partridge comes to some positive conclusions:
many high bandwidth applications (for example real time video) can cope
better with delays than had been thought; increasing processor speeds and
improvements in networking code and caching algorithms will allow hosts to
cope; and, while new protocols will be needed to support new applications,
there appear to be no insurmountable problems with continuing to use
modified versions of existing TCP/IP protocols. Flow control — traffic
shaping, provision of performance guarantees and flow setup — is dealt
with in three chapters (which also touch on the always hairy problem of
routing) and another looks at how to build distributed systems around
gigabit networks. There should be something for everyone in all of this.
The penultimate chapter tries to give an overview of the situation and
to peer a little into the future, and the final chapter contains advice
on how to find more information and a list of current research programs.
This, together with suggestions for further reading at the end of each
chapter and the solid overall bibliography, will make Gigabit Networking
an valuable reference.
As a broad-ranging survey of a new field that is rapidly increasing in
significance, Partridge's book should interest a wide range of people.
As well as those within the field who want an overview of what is
happening around them, those in other areas will want to know what
is in store for them: network administrators, protocol designers,
programmers of network applications, operating systems researchers
and others can get a glimpse of some of the challenges they will be
facing over the coming decades. General readers with a computing
background will also find parts of Gigabit Networking fascinating
(let's face it, "high-speed" is exciting). While a fair bit of
theory is covered, only a basic knowledge of computer architecture
and networking is assumed, and there is no intimidating mathematics
(except for one small section that assumes an understanding of Markov
chains, which should have been omitted or left to an appendix).
Partridge writes clearly and comprehensibly, and I think Gigabit
Networking is likely to be the standard introduction to the subject
for some time.
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- Related reviews:
- books about networking
- books published by Addison-Wesley