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The Impact of Wide-Band Local Area Communication Systems on Distributed Computing

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131455D
Original Publication Date: 1980-Sep-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-11
Document File: 5 page(s) / 25K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Maurice V. Wilkes: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

Work in the design and implementation of local area systems holds the key to the future of large distributed computer installations. An earlier form of this article was presented as the keynote address at the First International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems, held in Huntsville, Alabama, October 14, 1979. It is said that large mainframes are becoming out of date and that, for many applications, minicomputers are better. It is true that, for self-contained applications, modern minicomputers can provide exactly what is required at low cost. A serious problem arises, however, if an organization attempts to operate a significant number of such computers, since it is found in practice that each one is likely to demand a full complement of peripherals, including disk files and printers. Moreover, some convenient means must be found for transferring data from one computer to another. The answer lies in connecting the computers to form a network, and it is for that reason that the subject of wide-band local area communications has assumed importance.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

This record contains textual material that is copyright ©; 1980 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact the IEEE Computer Society http://www.computer.org/ (714-821-8380) for copies of the complete work that was the source of this textual material and for all use beyond that as a record from the SPI Database.

The Impact of Wide-Band Local Area Communication Systems on Distributed Computing

Maurice V. Wilkes

University of Cambridge

Work in the design and implementation of local area systems holds the key to the future of large distributed computer installations.

An earlier form of this article was presented as the keynote address at the First International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems, held in Huntsville, Alabama, October 14, 1979.

It is said that large mainframes are becoming out of date and that, for many applications, minicomputers are better. It is true that, for self-contained applications, modern minicomputers can provide exactly what is required at low cost. A serious problem arises, however, if an organization attempts to operate a significant number of such computers, since it is found in practice that each one is likely to demand a full complement of peripherals, including disk files and printers. Moreover, some convenient means must be found for transferring data from one computer to another. The answer lies in connecting the computers to form a network, and it is for that reason that the subject of wide-band local area communications has assumed importance.

The growth of interest in local area communications is an indication of the way in which the communications field and the computer field are drawing together. However, since this development came from the computer side, local area communications have developed in a culture quite distinct from that of traditional communications.

It is easy to see why this should be so. The common carriers (the PTTs in Europe) operate under many constraints, some legal and some arising from the sheer scale of their operations and their very heavy investment in existing plant. On the other hand, an organization considering the design of a communication system for interconnecting computers within its own building or on its own site -- which is what I take the term local area to signify -- is free of these constraints and can use advanced technology which could not, at a moment's notice, be incorporated into a nationwide system. The designer of a local area system can think in terms of megabits per second rather

than kilobits per second. In fact, he operates in a speed range between that of the traditional communication engineer and that of the designer of an internal computer bus.

Local area communication systems can be designed to operate with an error rate vastly below that to which communication engineers are accustomed. This is, perhaps, what most distingu...