N.C. State Researchers Develop Fast Internet Data Protocol
Researchers at North Carolina State University’s Department of Computer Science have developed a new data transfer protocol for the Internet that outpaces high-speed Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) connections many times over, according to officials.
The protocol is known as BIC-TCP, which stands for Binary Increase Congestion Transmission Control Protocol. In a recent comparative study conducted at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), BIC topped the rankings in a set of experiments that determined its stability, scalability and fairness in comparison with other protocols. The study tested six other protocols developed by researchers from schools around the world.
Dr. Injong Rhee, a NCSU associate professor of computer science, said BIC can achieve speeds roughly 6,000 times that of DSL and 150,000 times that of current modems. The problem with regular transmission control protocol (TCP), Rhee said, is its inherent limitations. “TCP was originally designed in the 1980s when Internet speeds were much slower and bandwidths much smaller,” he explained.
“Now we are trying to apply it to networks that have several orders of magnitude and more available bandwidth. Essentially, we’re using an eyedropper to fill a water main. BIC, on the other hand, would open the floodgate,” Rhee adds.
Many national and international computing labs are now involved in large-scale scientific studies of nuclear and high-energy physics, astronomy, geology and meteorology. As a result, Rhee said, “Data are collected at a remote location and need to be shipped to labs where scientists can perform analyses and create high-performance visualizations of the data.” Receiving the data and sharing the results can lead to the massive congestion of current networks, according to experts.
The key to BIC’s speed is that it uses a binary search approach that allows for rapid detection of maximum network capacities with minimal loss of information. “What takes TCP two hours to determine, BIC can do in less than one second,” Rhee said. The greatest challenge for the new protocol, he added, was to fill the pipe fast without starving out other protocols. “It’s a tough balance,” he said.
According to officials, BIC might even help avoid a national disaster: The recent blackout that affected large areas of the eastern United States and Canada underscored the need to spread data-rich backup systems across hundreds of thousands of miles. With network speeds doubling roughly annually, Rhee said the performances by the new protocol could become available in the next few years, setting a new standard for full utilization of the Internet.
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