Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20030212735 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/144,658
Publication dateNov 13, 2003
Filing dateMay 13, 2002
Priority dateMay 13, 2002
Also published asDE10392634T5, US7383352, US7620738, US8051126, US20080071926, US20080104271, US20100049780, WO2003096202A1
Publication number10144658, 144658, US 2003/0212735 A1, US 2003/212735 A1, US 20030212735 A1, US 20030212735A1, US 2003212735 A1, US 2003212735A1, US-A1-20030212735, US-A1-2003212735, US2003/0212735A1, US2003/212735A1, US20030212735 A1, US20030212735A1, US2003212735 A1, US2003212735A1
InventorsGary Hicok, Robert Alfieri
Original AssigneeNvidia Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and apparatus for providing an integrated network of processors
US 20030212735 A1
Abstract
A novel network architecture that integrates the functions of an internet protocol (IP) router into a network processing unit (NPU) that resides in a host computer's chipset such that the host computer's resources are perceived as separate network appliances. The NPU appears logically separate from the host computer even though, in one embodiment, it is sharing the same chip.
Images(6)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(132)
What is claimed is:
1. Method for providing a distributed network of processing units, said method comprising:
a) providing a network processing unit; and
b) providing at least one host, wherein said at least one host comprises a central processing unit (CPU) and a plurality of auxiliary processing units, wherein said central processing unit is loaded with a host operating system and wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units bypass said host operating system and communicate directly with each other via said network processing unit.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units employ a network protocol to communicate with said network processing unit.
3. The method of claim 2, wherein each of said plurality of auxiliary processing units communicates with said network processing unit via a media access controller (MAC).
4. The method of claim 2, wherein said network protocol is Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).
5. The method of claim 2, wherein said network protocol is User Datagram Protocol (UDP).
6. The method of claim 1, wherein each of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is perceived as a separate network appliance.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary storage processing unit.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary audio processing unit.
9. The method of claim 1, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary graphics processing unit.
10. The method of claim 1, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary video processing unit.
11. The method of claim 1, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary physics processing unit.
12. The method of claim 1, wherein said at least one host is a virtual host.
13. The method of claim 1, wherein said at least one host comprises a plurality of virtual hosts, where at least two of said plurality of virtual hosts are loaded with a separate operating system.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein each of said plurality of virtual hosts is capable of accessing said plurality of auxiliary processing units via said network processing unit.
15. The method of claim 1, wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units comprise an auxiliary storage processing unit, an auxiliary audio processing unit, an auxiliary graphics processing unit, and an auxiliary video processing unit.
16. A distributed network of processing units, said network comprising:
a network processing unit; and
at least one host, wherein said at least one host comprises a central processing unit (CPU) and a plurality of auxiliary processing units, wherein said central processing unit is loaded with a host operating system and wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units bypass said host operating system and communicate directly with each other via said network processing unit.
17. The network of claim 16, wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units employ a network protocol to communicate with said network processing unit.
18. The network of claim 17, wherein each of said plurality of auxiliary processing units communicates with said network processing unit via a media access controller (MAC).
19. The network of claim 17, wherein said network protocol is Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).
20. The network of claim 17, wherein said network protocol is User Datagram Protocol (UDP).
21. The network of claim 16, wherein each of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is perceived as a separate network appliance.
22. The network of claim 16, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary storage processing unit.
23. The network of claim 16, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary audio processing unit.
24. The network of claim 16, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary graphics processing unit.
25. The network of claim 16, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary video processing unit.
26. The network of claim 16, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary physics processing unit.
27. The network of claim 16, wherein said at least one host is a virtual host.
28. The network of claim 16, wherein said at least one host comprises a plurality of virtual hosts, where at least two of said plurality of virtual hosts are loaded with a separate operating system.
29. The network of claim 28, wherein each of said plurality of virtual hosts is capable of accessing said plurality of auxiliary processing units via said network processing unit.
30. The network of claim 16, wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units comprise an auxiliary storage processing unit, an auxiliary audio processing unit, an auxiliary graphics processing unit, and an auxiliary video processing unit.
31. The network of claim 16, wherein said network processing unit is implemented on a chipset.
32. The network of claim 31, wherein at least one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is implemented on a chipset.
33. Method for providing a distributed network of processing units, said method comprising:
a) providing a network processing unit;
b) providing at least one host, wherein said at least one host comprises a central processing unit (CPU) loaded with a host operating system; and
c) providing a plurality of auxiliary processing units, wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units bypass said host operating system and communicate directly with each other via said network processing unit.
34. The method of claim 33, wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units employ a network protocol to communicate with said network processing unit.
35. The method of claim 34, wherein each of said plurality of auxiliary processing units communicates with said network processing unit via a media access controller (MAC).
36. The method of claim 34, wherein said network protocol is Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).
37. The method of claim 34, wherein said network protocol is User Datagram Protocol (UDP).
38. The method of claim 33, wherein each of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is perceived as a separate network appliance.
39. The method of claim 33, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary storage processing unit.
40. The method of claim 33, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary audio processing unit.
41. The method of claim 33, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary graphics processing unit.
42. The method of claim 33, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary video processing unit.
43. The method of claim 33, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary physics processing unit.
44. The method of claim 33, wherein said at least one host is a virtual host.
45. The method of claim 33, wherein said at least one host comprises a plurality of virtual hosts, where at least two of said plurality of virtual hosts are loaded with a separate operating system.
46. The method of claim 45, wherein each of said plurality of virtual hosts is capable of accessing said plurality of auxiliary processing units via said network processing unit.
47. A distributed network of processing units, said network comprising:
a network processing unit;
at least one host, wherein said at least one host comprises a central processing unit (CPU) loaded with a host operating system; and
a plurality of auxiliary processing units, wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units bypass said host operating system and communicate directly with each other via said network processing unit.
48. The network of claim 47, wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units employ a network protocol to communicate with said network processing unit.
49. The network of claim 48, wherein each of said plurality of auxiliary processing units communicates with said network processing unit via a media access controller (MAC).
50. The network of claim 48, wherein said network protocol is Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).
51. The network of claim 48, wherein said network protocol is User Datagram Protocol (UDP).
52. The network of claim 37, wherein each of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is perceived as a separate network appliance.
53. The network of claim 47, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary storage processing unit.
54. The network of claim 47, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary audio processing unit.
55. The network of claim 47, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary graphics processing unit.
56. The network of claim 47, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary video processing unit.
57. The network of claim 47, wherein one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is an auxiliary physics processing unit.
58. The network of claim 47, wherein said at least one host is a virtual host.
59. The network of claim 47, wherein said at least one host comprises a plurality of virtual hosts, where at least two of said plurality of virtual hosts are loaded with a separate operating system.
60. The network of claim 59, wherein each of said plurality of virtual hosts is capable of accessing said plurality of auxiliary processing units via said network processing unit.
61. The network of claim 47, wherein said network processing unit is implemented on a chipset.
62. The network of claim 61, wherein at least one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is implemented on a chipset.
63. Method for providing a distributed network of processing units and host resources, said method comprising:
a) providing a network processing unit; and
b) providing at least one host, wherein said at least one host comprises a central processing unit (CPU) loaded with a host operating system and a plurality of host resources, wherein each of said plurality of host resources is accessible directly by said central processing unit and via said network processing unit.
64. The method of claim 63, wherein one of said plurality of host resources is a storage device.
65. The method of claim 63, wherein one of said plurality of host resources is a read only memory (ROM).
66. The method of claim 63, wherein one of said plurality of host resources is a random access memory (RAM).
67. A distributed network of processing units and host resources, said network comprising:
a network processing unit; and
at least one host, wherein said at least one host comprises a central processing unit (CPU) loaded with a host operating system and a plurality of host resources, wherein each of said plurality of host resources is accessible directly by said central processing unit and via said network processing unit.
68. The network of claim 67, wherein one of said plurality of host resources is a storage device.
69. The network of claim 67, wherein one of said plurality of host resources is a read only memory (ROM).
70. The network of claim 67, wherein one of said plurality of host resources is a random access memory (RAM).
71. Method for providing a distributed network of processing units and host resources, said method comprising:
a) providing a first network processing unit;
b) providing a first host comprising a first central processing unit (CPU) loaded with a first host operating system and a plurality of first host resources;
c) providing a second network processing unit; and
d) providing a second host comprising a second central processing unit (CPU) loaded with a second host operating system and a plurality of second host resources, wherein each of said plurality of first host resources is accessible via said first and second network processing units by bypassing said first host operating system.
72. The method of claim 71, wherein each of said plurality of second host resources is accessible via said first and second network processing units by bypassing said second host operating system.
73. The method of claim 71, further comprising:
e) forwarding a media stream in real time from one of said plurality of first host resources to said second host operating system.
74. The method of claim 71, wherein said plurality of first host resources comprise at least one auxiliary processing unit.
75. The method of claim 74, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary storage processing unit.
76. The method of claim 74, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary audio processing unit.
77. The method of claim 74, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary graphics processing unit.
78. The method of claim 74, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary video processing unit.
79. The method of claim 74, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary physics processing unit.
80. A distributed network of processing units and host resources, said network comprising:
a first network processing unit;
a first host comprising a first central processing unit (CPU) loaded with a first host operating system and a plurality of first host resources;
a second network processing unit; and
a second host comprising a second central processing unit (CPU) loaded with a second host operating system and a plurality of second host resources, wherein each of said plurality of first host resources is accessible via said first and second network processing units by bypassing said first host operating system.
81. The network of claim 80, wherein each of said plurality of second host resources is accessible via said first and second network processing units by bypassing said second host operating system.
82. The network of claim 80, wherein one of said plurality of first host resources forwards a media stream in real time to said second host operating system.
83. The network of claim 80, wherein said plurality of first host resources comprise at least one auxiliary processing unit.
84. The network of claim 83, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary storage processing unit.
85. The network of claim 83, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary audio processing unit.
86. The network of claim 83, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary graphics processing unit.
87. The network of claim 83, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary video processing unit.
88. The network of claim 83, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary physics processing unit.
89. Method for providing a distributed network of processing units, said method comprising:
a) providing a network processing unit; and
b) providing at least one host, wherein said at least one host comprises a central processing unit (CPU) and at least one auxiliary processing unit, wherein said central processing unit is loaded with a host operating system and wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit bypasses said host operating system and communicates directly with said network processing unit.
90. The method of claim 89, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit employs a network protocol to communicate with said network processing unit.
91. The method of claim 90, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit communicates with said network processing unit via a media access controller (MAC).
92. A distributed network of processing units, said network comprising:
a network processing unit; and
at least one host, wherein said at least one host comprises a central processing unit (CPU) and at least one auxiliary processing unit, wherein said central processing unit is loaded with a host operating system and wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit bypasses said host operating system and communicates directly with said network processing unit.
93. The network of claim 92, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit employs a network protocol to communicate with said network processing unit.
94. The network of claim 93, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit communicates with said network processing unit via a media access controller (MAC).
95. Method for providing a distributed network of processing units for interacting with at least one host that comprises a central processing unit (CPU) and, wherein said central processing unit is loaded with a host operating system, said method comprising:
a) providing a network processing unit; and
b) providing at least one auxiliary processing unit, wherein said network processing unit and said at least one auxiliary processing unit bypass said host operating system and communicate directly with each other.
96. The method of claim 95, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit comprises two auxiliary processing units that bypass said host operating system and communicate directly with each other through said network processing unit.
97. The method of claim 95, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit employs a network protocol to communicate with said network processing unit.
98. The method of claim 97, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit communicates with said network processing unit via a media access controller (MAC).
99. The method of claim 97, wherein said network protocol is Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).
100. The method of claim 97, wherein said network protocol is User Datagram Protocol (UDP).
101. The method of claim 95, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is perceived as a separate network appliance.
102. The method of claim 95, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary storage processing unit.
103. The method of claim 95, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary audio processing unit.
104. The method of claim 95, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary graphics processing unit.
105. The method of claim 95, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary video processing unit.
106. The method of claim 95, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary physics processing unit.
107. The method of claim 95, wherein said at least one host is a virtual host.
108. The method of claim 95, wherein said at least one host comprises a plurality of virtual hosts, where at least two of said plurality of virtual hosts are loaded with a separate operating system.
109. The method of claim 108, wherein each of said plurality of virtual hosts is capable of accessing said plurality of auxiliary processing units via said network processing unit.
110. The method of claim 95, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit comprises an auxiliary storage processing unit, an auxiliary audio processing unit, an auxiliary graphics processing unit, and an auxiliary video processing unit.
111. A distributed network of processing units for interacting with at least one host that comprises a central processing unit (CPU) and, wherein said central processing unit is loaded with a host operating system, said network comprising:
a network processing unit; and
at least one auxiliary processing unit, wherein said network processing unit and said at least one auxiliary processing unit bypass said host operating system and communicate directly with each other.
112. The network of claim 111, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit comprises two auxiliary processing units that bypass said host operating system and communicate directly with each other through said network processing unit.
113. The network of claim 111, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit employs a network protocol to communicate with said network processing unit.
114. The network of claim 113, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit communicates with said network processing unit via a media access controller (MAC).
115. The network of claim 113, wherein said network protocol is Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).
116. The network of claim 113, wherein said network protocol is User Datagram Protocol (UDP).
117. The network of claim 111, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is perceived as a separate network appliance.
118. The network of claim 111, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary storage processing unit.
119. The network of claim 111, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary audio processing unit.
120. The network of claim 111, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary graphics processing unit.
121. The network of claim 111, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary video processing unit.
122. The network of claim 111, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit is an auxiliary physics processing unit.
123. The network of claim 111, wherein said at least one host is a virtual host.
124. The network of claim 111, wherein said at least one host comprises a plurality of virtual hosts, where at least two of said plurality of virtual hosts are loaded with a separate operating system.
125. The network of claim 124, wherein each of said plurality of virtual hosts is capable of accessing said at least one auxiliary processing unit via said network processing unit.
126. The network of claim 111, wherein said at least one auxiliary processing unit comprises an auxiliary storage processing unit, an auxiliary audio processing unit, an auxiliary graphics processing unit, and an auxiliary video processing unit.
127. The network of claim 111, wherein said network processing unit is implemented on a chipset.
128. The network of claim 127, wherein said at least one of said plurality of auxiliary processing units is implemented on a chipset.
129. Method for providing a distributed network of processing units, said method comprising:
a) providing a network processing unit; and
b) providing at least one host, wherein said at least one host comprises a central processing unit (CPU) and a plurality of auxiliary processing units, wherein said central processing unit is loaded with a host operating system and wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units bypass said host operating system and communicate directly with each other via said network processing unit, wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units employ Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) to communicate with said network processing unit.
130. Method for providing a distributed network of processing units, said method comprising:
a) providing a network processing unit; and
b) providing at least one host, wherein said at least one host comprises a central processing unit (CPU) and a plurality of auxiliary processing units, wherein said central processing unit is loaded with a host operating system and wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units bypass said host operating system and communicate directly with each other via said network processing unit, wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units employ User Datagram Protocol (UDP) to communicate with said network processing unit.
131. A distributed network of processing units, said network comprising:
a network processing unit; and
at least one host, wherein said at least one host comprises a central processing unit (CPU) and a plurality of auxiliary processing units, wherein said central processing unit is loaded with a host operating system and wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units bypass said host operating system and communicate directly with each other via said network processing unit, wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units employ Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) to communicate with said network processing unit.
132. A distributed network of processing units, said network comprising:
a network processing unit; and
at least one host, wherein said at least one host comprises a central processing unit (CPU) and a plurality of auxiliary processing units, wherein said central processing unit is loaded with a host operating system and wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units bypass said host operating system and communicate directly with each other via said network processing unit, wherein said plurality of auxiliary processing units employ User Datagram Protocol (UDP) to communicate with said network processing unit.
Description

[0001] The present invention relates to a novel network architecture. More specifically, the present invention integrates the functions of an internet protocol (IP) router into a network processing unit that resides in a host computer's chipset such that the host computer's resources are perceived as separate network appliances.

BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

[0002]FIG. 1 illustrates traditional internal content sources and data pipes where the data routing function is performed by a host central processing unit (CPU) and its operating system (OS) 110. Namely, the host computer may comprise a number of storage devices 120, a plurality of media engines 130, and a plurality of other devices that are accessible via input/output ports 140, e.g., universal serial bus (USB) and the like. In turn, the host computer may access a network 150 via application programming interfaces (APIs) and a media access controller (MAC).

[0003] However, a significant drawback of this data routing architecture is that the host computer's resources or devices are only accessible with the involvement of the host CPU/OS. Typically, accessing the host resources from external computers is either prohibited or it is necessary to request access through the host computer using high-level protocols. If the host CPU/OS is overtaxed, a substantial latency will exist where data flow may be stuck in the OS stacks.

[0004] Therefore, a need exists for a novel network architecture that allows a host computer's resources to be perceived as separate network appliances and are accessible without the interference of the host computer's CPU/OS.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] The present invention is a novel network architecture. More specifically, the present invention integrates the functions of an internet protocol (IP) router into a network processing unit (NPU) that resides in a host computer's chipset such that the host computer's resources are perceived as separate network appliances. The NPU appears logically separate from the host computer even though, in one embodiment, it is sharing the same chip. A host computer's “chipset” is one or more integrated circuits coupled to a CPU that provide various interfaces (e.g., main memory, hard disks, floppy, USB, PCI, etc), exemplified by Intel's Northbridge and Southbridge integrated circuits.

[0006] In operation, the host computer has a virtual port (i.e., host MAC) that is in communication with the network processing unit and communicates with the NPU as if it is an external network appliance using standard networking protocols. In one embodiment, the host computer communicates via the NPU with one or more auxiliary or dedicated processing units that are deployed to perform dedicated tasks. These auxiliary processing units can be part of the host or can be deployed separate from the host to meet different application requirements. For example, some of these auxiliary processing units include, but are not limited to, a graphics processing unit (GPU), an audio processing unit (APU), a video processing unit (VPU), a storage processing unit (SPU), and a physics processing unit (PPU). The present disclosure refers to these auxiliary processing units as XPU, where the “X” is replaced to signify a particular function performed by the processing unit. Finally, the network processing unit itself is an XPU because it can, in addition to routing packets among XPUs, perform various processing accelerations on these packets, such as authentication, encryption, compression, TCP, IPSec/VPN/PPP encapsulation and so on.

[0007] One unique aspect of the present Invention is that the XPUs have logically direct attachments to the NPU which effectively serves as an integrated router, thereby allowing XPUs to be seen as separate network appliances. Since these auxiliary processing units have first-class status in this logical network architecture, they are allowed to communicate with each other or with any external computer (e.g., via another NPU) directly using standard internet protocols such as IP, TCP, UDP and the like without the involvement of the host CPU/OS. Using this novel architecture, the NPU provides both local (or host) access and remote access acceleration in a distributed computing environment.

[0008] Furthermore, by virtualizing the remaining resources of the host computer, such as its physical memory, ROM, real-time clocks, interrupts, and the like, the present invention allows a single chipset to provide multiple, virtual host computers with each being attached to this NPU. Each of these virtual computers or virtual host may run its own copy of an identical or different operating system, and may communicate with other virtual computers and integrated networked appliances using standard networking protocols. Effectively, the present invention embodies its own hardware-level operating system and graphical user interface (GUI) that reside below the standard host operating system and host computer definition, and allow the computer user to easily configure the network or to switch from one virtual computer to another without changing the standard definition of that host computer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] The teachings of the present invention can be readily understood by considering the following detailed description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0010]FIG. 1 illustrates a block diagram of conventional internal content sources and data pipes;

[0011]FIG. 2 illustrates a block diagram of novel internal content sources and data pipes of the present invention;

[0012]FIG. 3 illustrates a block diagram where a network of host computers are in communication with each other via a plurality of network processing units;

[0013]FIG. 4 illustrates a block diagram where a host computer's resources are networked via a network processing unit of the present invention; and

[0014]FIG. 5 illustrates a block diagram of a network of virtual personal computers in communication with a network processing unit of the present invention.

[0015] To facilitate understanding, identical reference numerals have been used, where possible, to designate identical elements that are common to the figures.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0016]FIG. 2 illustrates a block diagram of novel internal content sources and data pipes 200 of the present invention. Unlike FIG. 1, the present network architecture has a network processing unit 210 of the present invention at the center of the internal content sources and data pipes. The host CPU/OS 250 is no longer central to the data routing scheme. One advantage of this new architecture is that the NPU 210 provides both local or host access and remote access acceleration.

[0017] An operating system is any software platform for application programs; typical examples are Microsoft Windows, Unix, and Apple Macintosh OS. An operating system can be run on top of another operating system (an example of a virtual operating system) or another underlying software platform, possibly as an application program.

[0018] In operation, the host CPU/OS 250 has a virtual port (i.e., host MAC) that is in communication with the network processing unit 210 and communicates with the NPU as if it is an external network appliance using standard networking protocols, e.g., TCP/IP protocols. In one embodiment, the host computer communicates via the NPU with one or more auxiliary or dedicated processing units 220, 230 that are deployed to perform dedicated tasks. These auxiliary processing units can be part of the host or can be deployed separate from the host to meet different application requirements.

[0019] For example, some of these auxiliary processing units include, but are not limited to, a graphics processing unit (GPU), an audio processing unit (APU), a video processing unit (VPU), a physics processing unit (PPU) and a storage processing unit (SPU) 220. Some of these auxiliary processing units can be deployed as part of the media engines 230, whereas the SPU 220 is deployed with the storage devices of the host. Finally, the network processing unit itself is an XPU because it can, in addition to routing packets among XPUs, perform various processing accelerations on these packets, such as authentication, encryption, compression, TCP, IPSec/VPN/PPP encapsulation and so on.

[0020] In one embodiment, the NPU 210 is a network router appliance that resides inside the same “box” or chassis as the host computer 250, i.e., typically within the same chipset. The NPU serves to connect various other “XPUs” that performed dedicated functions such as:

[0021] 1) Storage Processing Unit (SPU) is an auxiliary processing unit that implements a file system, where the file system can be accessed locally by the host or remotely via the NPU's connection to the outside world. The SPU is a special XPU because it behaves as an endpoint for data storage. Streams can originate from an SPU file or terminate at an SPU file.

[0022] 2) Audio Processing Unit (APU) is an auxiliary processing unit that implements audio affects on individual “voices” and mixes them down to a small number of channels. APU also performs encapsulation/decapsulation of audio packets that are transmitted/received over the network via the NPU.

[0023] 3) Video Processing Unit (VPU) is an auxiliary processing unit that is similar to the APU except that it operates on compressed video packets (e.g., MPEG-2 compressed), either compressing them or uncompressing them. The VPU also performs encapsulations into bitstreams or network video packets.

[0024] 4) Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) is an auxiliary processing unit that takes graphics primitives and produces (partial) frame buffers. The GPU is a special XPU because it acts as an endpoint for rendered graphics primitives. Streams can terminate at a GPU frame buffer or originate as raw pixels from a frame buffer.

[0025] 5) Physics Processing Unit (PPU) is an auxiliary processing unit that takes object positions, current velocity vectors, and force equations, and produces new positions, velocity vectors, and collision information.

[0026] 6) Network Processing Unit (NPU) is itself an XPU because it can, in addition to routing packets among XPUs, perform various processing accelerations on these packets, such as authentication, encryption, compression, TCP, IPSec/VPN/PPP encapsulation and the like.

[0027] Some of the above XPUs have a number of commonalities with respect to their association with the host 250 and the NPU 210. First, an XPU can be accessed directly by the host CPU and O/S 250 directly as a local resource. Namely, communication is effected by using direct local communication channels.

[0028] Second, an XPU can be placed on the network via the NPU and accessed remotely from other network nodes (as shown in FIG. 3 below). This indicates that an XPU is capable of processing information that is encapsulated in network packets.

[0029] Third, an XPU can be accessed as a “remote” node even from the local host. Namely, communication is effected via the NPU by using network protocols.

[0030] Fourth, an XPU is always in an “on” state (like most appliances) even when the host (CPU+O/S) is in the “off” state. This unique feature allows the XPUs to operate without the involvement of the host CPU/OS, e.g., extracting data from a disk drive of the host without the involvement of the host. More importantly, the host's resources are still available even though the CPU/OS may be in a dormant state, e.g., in a sleep mode.

[0031] Fifth, an XPU has at least two sets of processing queues, one for non-real-time packets and at least one for real-time packets. This duality of queues combined with similar real-time queues in the NPU, allows the system of NPU and XPUs to guarantee latencies and bandwidth for real-time streams.

[0032] Sixth, an XPU has two software (SW) drivers, one that manages the host-side connection to the XPU, and one that manages the remotely-accessed component of the XPU. In operation, the SW drivers communicate with the XPU using abstract command queues, called push buffers (PBs). Each driver has at least one PB going from the driver to the XPU and at least one PB going from the XPU to the driver. Push buffers are described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,092,124, and is herein incorporated herein by reference.

[0033] Seventh, an XPU can also be accessed on the host side directly by a user-level application. Namely, this involves lazy-pinning of user-space buffers by the O/S. Lazy-pinning means to lock the virtual-to-physical address translations of memory pages on demand, i.e., when the translations are needed by the particular XPU. When the translations are no longer needed, they can be unlocked, allowing the operating system to page out those pages. The virtual-to-physical mappings of these buffers are passed to the XPU. A separate pair of PBs are linked into the user's address space and the O/S driver coordinates context switches with the XPU.

[0034] Although the present invention discloses the use of a network processing unit 210 to perform routing functions without the involvement of the CPU/OS, the CPU/OS 250 nevertheless still has an alternate direct communication channel 255 with its resources, e.g., storage devices. This provides the host CPU/OS with the option of communicating with its resources or media engines via the NPU or directly via local access channels 255 or 257.

[0035] In fact, although the CPU/OS is not involved with the general routing function, in one embodiment of the present invention, exception routing issues are resolved by the host CPU/OS. For example, if the NPU receives a packet that it is unable to process, the NPU will forward the packet to the host CPU/OS for resolution. This limited use of the CPU/OS serves to accelerate host processing, while retaining the option to more judiciously use the processing power of the host CPU/OS to resolve difficult issues.

[0036] Additionally, the host resources may also be accessed via the NPU without the involvement of the host CPU/OS 250 via input/output communication channel 240, e.g., via an USB. For example, the present architecture can virtualize the remaining resources of the host computer 250, such as its physical memory, read only memory (ROM), real-time clocks, interrupts, and so on, thereby allowing a single chipset to provide multiple virtual hosts with each host being attached to the NPU 210.

[0037] One unique aspect of the present Invention is that the XPUs have logically direct attachments to the NPU that effectively serves as an integrated router, thereby allowing XPUs to be seen as separate network appliances. Since these auxiliary processing units have first-class status in this logical network architecture, they are allowed to communicate with each other or with any external computer (e.g., via another NPU) directly using standard internet protocols such as IP, TCP, UDP and the like without the involvement of the host CPU/OS. Using this novel architecture, the NPU provides both local (or host) access and remote access acceleration in a distributed computing environment.

[0038]FIG. 3 illustrates a block diagram where a network of host computers 300 a-n are in communication with each other via a plurality of network processing units 310 a-n. This unique configuration provides both host access and remote access acceleration. The accelerated functions can be best understood by viewing the present invention in terms of packetized streams.

[0039] It is best to view this system of NPU and XPUs in the context of streams of packetized data that flow within this system. There are various types of streams that are allowed by the system. In this discussion, the term “host” means the combination of host CPU and memory in the context of the O/S kernel or a user-level process. The term “node” refers to a remote networked host or device that is attached to the NPU via a wired or wireless connection to a MAC that is directly connected to the NPU (e.g., as shown in FIG. 4 below).

[0040] A host-to-XPU stream is a stream that flows directly from the host 350 a to the XPU 330 a. This is a typical scenario for a dedicated XPU (e.g., a dedicated GPU via communication path 357). The stream does not traverse through the NPU 310 a.

[0041] An XPU-to-host stream is a stream that flows directly from the XPU to the host. One example is a local file being read from the SPU 320 a via path 355. The stream does not traverse through the NPU 310 a.

[0042] A host-to-XPU-to-host stream is a stream that flows from host 350 a to an XPU 330 a for processing then back to the host 350 a. One example is where the host forwards voice data directly to the APU for processing of voices into final mix buffers that are subsequently returned to the host via path 357. The stream does not traverse through the NPU 310 a.

[0043] A host-to-NPU-to-XPU stream is a networked stream that flows from the host 350 a via NPU 310 a to an XPU 330 a or 320 a. The three parties transfer packetized data using standard networking protocols, e.g., TCP/IP.

[0044] An XPU-to-NPU-to-Host is a networked stream that flows from an XPU 330 a or 320 a via the NPU 310 a to the host 350 a. The three parties transfer packetized data using standard networking protocols, e.g., TCP/IP.

[0045] A host-to-NPU-to-XPU-to-NPU-to-host is a networked stream that is the combination of the previous two streams. The three parties transfer packetized data using standard networking protocols, e.g., TCP/IP.

[0046] A host-to-NPU-to-Node is a networked stream that flows from the host 350 a via the NPU 310 a to a remote node (e.g., NPU 310 b). This allows a local host 350 a to communicate and access XPUs 330 b of another host via a second NPU 310 b.

[0047] A Node-to-NPU-to-Host is a reverse networked stream where the stream flows from a remote node (e.g., NPU 310 b) via the NPU 310 a to the host 350 a. This allows a remote NPU 350 b to communicate with a local host 350 a via a local NPU 310 a.

[0048] A Node-to-NPU-to-XPU is a networked stream that flows from a remote node 350 b via the NPU 350 a to an XPU 330 a where it terminates. This allows a remote NPU 310 b to communicate with a local XPU 330 a via a local NPU 310 a.

[0049] An XPU-to-NPU-to-Node is a networked stream that flows from an XPU 330 a where it originates to a remote node (e.g., NPU 310 b) via local NPU 310 a.

[0050] A Node0-to-NPU-to-XPU-to-NPU-to-Node1 is a combination of the previous two streams. It should be noted that Node0 and Node1 may be the same or different. For example, Node0 is 310 a; NPU is 310 b; XPU is 330 b; NPU is 310 b; and Node1 is 310 n. Alternatively, Node0 is 310 a; NPU is 310 b; XPU is 330 b; NPU is 310 b; and Node1 is 310 a.

[0051] A {Host,Node0,XPU0}-to-NPU-to-XPU1-to-NPU-to-XPU2-to-NPU-to{Host,Node1,XPU3} is a stream that originates from the host, a remote node, or an XPU, passes through the NPU to another XPU for some processing, then passes through the NPU to another XPU for some additional processing, then terminates at the host, another remote node, or another XPU. It should be clear that the present architecture of a network of integrated processing units provides a powerful and flexible distributed processing environment, where both host access and remote access acceleration are greatly enhanced.

[0052] Under the present architecture, numerous advantages are achieved. First, it is beneficial to tightly integrate other computers and network appliances into the same chipset. Second, it is very advantageous to offload a host computer's I/O functions into a distributed network of intelligent processors, where traditional latencies associated with overtaxed CPU/OS are resolved. Third, it is advantageous to provide these auxiliary I/O processors with first-class network-appliance status within the chipset (optionally illustrated in FIG. 2 with dash lines) without changing the definition of the host computer. Fourth, it is advantageous to allow these auxiliary I/O processors to be shared among the host computer, external computers, and internal and external network appliances. Fifth, it is advantageous to allow the remaining resources of the host computer to be virtualized so that multiple virtual copies of the host computer may be embodied in the same chipset, while sharing the network of intelligent auxiliary I/O processors. Finally, it is advantageous to use a hardware-level operating system and graphical user interface (GUI) that allow the user to configure the network and seamlessly switch among virtual copies of the host computer or virtual host.

[0053] In one embodiment of the present invention, real-time media streaming is implemented using the above described network of integrated processing units. Specifically, media streaming typically involves multiple software layers. Thus, latencies can be unpredictable, particularly when the software runs on a general-purpose computer. More importantly, media streaming typically has a severe adverse impact on other applications running on the host computer.

[0054] However, by attaching media devices such as an APU or GPU to an NPU+SPU combination, it is now possible to minimize and guarantee latencies as well as offload the main host CPU. For example, referring to FIG. 3, control requests may arrive from a remote recipient 350 b (typically attached wireless). These control requests may include play, stop, rewind, forward, pause, select title, and so on. Once the stream is set up, the raw data can be streamed directly from a disk managed by the SPU 320 a through the NPU 310 a to the destination client. Alternatively, the data may get preprocessed by the GPU 330 a or APU 330 a prior to being sent out via the NPU 310 a. One important aspect again is that real-time media streaming can take place without host CPU 350 a involvement. Dedicated queuing throughout the system will guarantee latencies and bandwidth.

[0055] This media streaming embodiment clearly demonstrates the power and flexibility of the present invention. One practical implementation of this real-time media streaming embodiment is within the home environment, where a centralized multimedia host server or computer has a large storage device that contains a library of stored media streams or it may simply be connected to a DVD player, a “PVR” (personal video recorder) or “DVR” (digital video recorder). If there are other client devices throughout the home, it is efficient to use the above network architecture to implement real-time media streaming, where a media stream from a storage device of the host computer can be transmitted to another host computer or a television set in a different part of the home. Thus, the real-time media streaming is implemented without the involvement of the host computer and with guaranteed latencies and bandwidth.

[0056]FIG. 4 illustrates a block diagram where a host computer's resources are networked via a network processing unit 410 of the present invention. Specifically, a host 450 communicates with the NPU 410 via a MAC 415 (i.e., a host MAC). In turn, a plurality of XPUs and other host resources 430 a are connected to the NPU via a plurality of MACs 425 that interface with a MAC Interface (MI) (not shown) of the NPU. One example of an NPU is disclosed in US patent application entitled “A Method And Apparatus For Performing Network Processing Functions” with attorney docket NVDA/P000413.

[0057]FIG. 5 illustrates a block diagram of a network of virtual personal computers or virtual hosts that are in communication with a network processing unit 520 of the present invention. More specifically, FIG. 5 illustrates a network of virtual personal computers (VPCs) in a single system (or a single chassis) 500, where the system may be a single personal computer, a set top box, a video game console or the like.

[0058] In operation, FIG. 5 illustrates a plurality of virtual hosts 510 a-e, which may comprise a plurality of different operating systems (e.g., Microsoft Corporation's Windows (two separate copies 510 a and 510 b), and Linux 510 c), a raw video game application 510 d or other raw applications 510 e, where the virtual hosts treat the storage processing unit 530 as a remote file server having a physical storage 540. In essence, one can perceive FIG. 5 as illustrating a “network of VPCs in a box”.

[0059] In one embodiment, the NPU 520 manages multiple IP addresses inside the system for each VPC. For example, the NPU 520 may be assigned a public IP address, whereas each of the VPCs is assigned a private IP address, e.g., in accordance with Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). Thus, each of the VPCs can communicate with each other and the SPU using standard networking protocols. Standard network protocols include, but are not limited to: TCP; TCP/IP; UDP; NFS; HTTP; SMTP; POP; FTP; NNTP; CGI; DHCP; and ARP (to name only a few that are know in the art).

[0060] It should be understood that the XPUs of the present invention can be implemented as one or more physical devices that are coupled to the host CPU through a communication channel. Alternatively, the XPUs can be represented and provided by one or more software applications (or even a combination of software and hardware, e.g., using application specific integrated circuits (ASIC)), where the software is loaded from a storage medium, (e.g., a ROM, a magnetic or optical drive or diskette) and operated in the memory of the computer. As such, the XPUs (including associated methods and data structures) of the present invention can be stored and provided on a computer readable medium, e.g., ROM or RAM memory, magnetic or optical drive or diskette and the like. Alternatively, the XPUs can be represented by Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) having control bits.

[0061] Although various embodiments which incorporate the teachings of the present invention have been shown and described in detail herein, those skilled in the art can readily devise many other varied embodiments that still incorporate these teachings. In the claims, elements of method claims are listed in a particular order, but no order for practicing of the invention is implied, even if elements of the claims are numerically or alphabetically enumerated.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7161904Jun 4, 2002Jan 9, 2007Fortinet, Inc.System and method for hierarchical metering in a virtual router based network switch
US7177311 *Jun 4, 2002Feb 13, 2007Fortinet, Inc.System and method for routing traffic through a virtual router-based network switch
US7203192Jun 4, 2002Apr 10, 2007Fortinet, Inc.Network packet steering
US7278055Aug 21, 2006Oct 2, 2007Fortinet, Inc.System and method for virtual router failover in a network routing system
US7340535 *Jun 4, 2002Mar 4, 2008Fortinet, Inc.System and method for controlling routing in a virtual router system
US7376125Jun 4, 2002May 20, 2008Fortinet, Inc.Service processing switch
US7539744Nov 5, 2006May 26, 2009Fortinet, Inc.Network operating system for maintaining redundant master control blade management information
US7639715 *Sep 9, 2005Dec 29, 2009Qlogic, CorporationDedicated application interface for network systems
US7735099Dec 23, 2005Jun 8, 2010Qlogic, CorporationMethod and system for processing network data
US8638802Nov 29, 2011Jan 28, 2014Cisco Technology, Inc.Network packet steering via configurable association of packet processing resources and network interfaces
Classifications
U.S. Classification709/201, 709/250
International ClassificationG06F15/16, G06F13/42, G06F13/38, H04L29/08, G06F13/00
Cooperative ClassificationH04L69/12, H04L67/1097, H04L69/329
European ClassificationH04L29/06G, H04L29/08A7, H04L29/08N9S
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 22, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: NVIDIA CORPORATION, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:HICOK, GARY;ALFIERI, ROBERT A.;REEL/FRAME:013214/0583
Effective date: 20020730