Gigabit Networking

Craig Partridge

Addison-Wesley 1994
A book review by Danny Yee © 1994
Gigabit Networking 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.

August 1994

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%T Gigabit Networking
%A Partridge, Craig
%I Addison-Wesley
%D 1994
%O hardcover, bibliography, index
%G ISBN 0201563339
%P xiv,396pp