US 20060239272 A1
Approaches scheduling and allocation of communication bandwidth across a communication channel provide the opportunity for improved network utilization. According to one embodiment, a method of allocating communication bandwidth among a plurality of network devices scheduling and conducting communication activities within the communication network in a communication network is provided. The method comprises the steps of: a first network device determining allocations of other network devices operating in the communication network; the first network device preempting a scheduled allocation of a second network device; and the first network device scheduling its communication activities on the communication network. Additionally, the first network device can also determine whether a conflict exists between its desired or required allocation and an allocation of the second network device.
1. A method of allocating communication bandwidth among a plurality of network devices scheduling and conducting communication activities within the communication network in a communication network, the method comprising the steps of:
a first network device determining allocations of other network devices operating in the communication network;
the first network device preempting a scheduled allocation of a second network device; and
the first network device scheduling its communication activities on the communication network.
2. The method of
3. The method of
4. The method of
5. The method of
the first network device informing the second network device of the preemption and of its scheduling requirement; and
the second network device reallocating its bandwidth in a manner that does not conflict with the first network device.
6. The method of
the first network device informing the second network device of its scheduling requirement; and
the second network device determining whether its own scheduling requirement is in conflict with the first network device.
7. The method of
8. The method of
9. The method of
10. A network device configured to operate within a communication network, the network device comprising:
at least one of a transmitter and receiver in the housing; and
control logic within the housing and configured to schedule communication activities across the communication network, determine allocations of other network devices operating in the communication network, and preempt a scheduled allocation of a second network device that is in conflict with the allocation of the network device.
11. The network device of
12. The network device of
13. The network device of
14. The network device of
15. The network device of
16. The network device of
17. The network device of
18. The network device of
19. An executable program product including a body of program code executable by a processor for dynamically allocating the bandwidth utilization of a first network device, the executable program product comprising:
program code for determining allocations of other network devices operating in the communication network;
program code for preempting a scheduled allocation of a second network device that is in conflict with the allocation of the first network device; and
program code for scheduling communication activities of the first network device on the communication network.
20. The program product of
21. The program product of
22. The program product of
23. The program product of
24. The program product of
25. The program product of
26. The program product of
This application claims priority to the following U.S. patent provisional applications Ser. No. 60/715, 220, filed on Sep. 7, 2005; Ser. No. 60/675,296, filed on Apr. 26, 2005; Ser. No. 60/674,806, filed on Apr. 25, 2005; and Ser. No. 60/673,836, filed on Apr. 22, 2005, the disclosures of which are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety.
The present invention relates generally to communication channels, and more particularly to a system and method for coordinating communications activities on a communications channel.
With the many continued advancements in communications technology, more and more devices are being introduced in both the consumer and commercial sectors with advanced communications capabilities. Additionally, advances in processing power and low-power consumption technologies, as well as advances in data coding techniques have led to the proliferation of wired and wireless communications capabilities on a more widespread basis.
For example, communication networks, both wired and wireless, are now commonplace in many home and office environments. Such networks allow various heretofore independent devices to share data and other information to enhance productivity or simply to improve their convenience to the user. One such communication network that is gaining widespread popularity is an exemplary implementation of a wireless network such as that specified by the WiMedia-MBOA (Multiband OFDM Alliance). Other exemplary networks include the Bluetooth® communications network and various IEEE standards-based networks such as 802.11 and 802.16 communications networks, to name a few.
Architects of these and other networks, and indeed communications channels in general, have long struggled with the challenge of managing multiple communications across a limited channel. For example, in some environments, more than one device may share a common carrier channel and thus run the risk of encountering a communication conflict between the one or more devices on the channel.
Over the years, network architects have come up with various solutions to arbitrate disputes or otherwise delegate bandwidth among the various communicating devices, or clients, on the network. Schemes used in well known network configurations such as token rings, Ethernet, and other configurations have been developed to allow sharing of the available bandwidth. In addition to these schemes, other techniques have been employed, including for example CDMA (code division multiple access) and TDMA (time division multiple access) for cellular networks.
FDM (Frequency Division Multiplexing) is another technology that enables multiple devices to transmit their signals simultaneously over a communication channel in a wired or wireless setting. The devices' respective signals travel within their designated frequency band (carrier), onto which the data (text, voice, video, or other data.) is modulated. With adequate separation in frequency band spacing, multiple devices can simultaneously communicate across the same communication channel (network or point-to-point).
Orthogonal FDM (OFDM) spread spectrum systems distribute the data over a plurality of carriers that are spaced apart at precise frequencies. The spacing is chosen so as to provide orthogonality among the carriers. Thus, a receiver's demodulator recovers the modulated data with little interference from the other carrier signals. The benefits of OFDM are high spectral efficiency, resiliency to RF interference, and lower multi-path distortion or inter symbol interference (ISI). OFDM systems can be combined with other techniques (such as time-division multiplexing) to allow sharing of the individual carriers by multiple devices as well, thus adding another dimension of multiplexing capability.
However, even with various multiplexing schemes available to network and other communication channel designers, there can still be inefficiencies in bandwidth allocation due to factors such as fragmentation. Fragmentation can occur, for example, where short durations of network bandwidth are separated by unavailable network time slots, making it difficult for a communication process to properly allocate its communication packets in an efficient manner. As users come and go, the unoccupied slots within a communication window can easily get fragmented to the point that a user may not be able to find the required or the optimal configuration of the slots (whether they desire contiguous or uniformly distributed slots, or otherwise) to meet their needs.
According to one embodiment, a method of allocating communication bandwidth among a plurality of network devices scheduling and conducting communication activities within the communication network in a communication network is provided. The method comprises the steps of: a first network device determining allocations of other network devices operating in the communication network; the first network device preempting a scheduled allocation of a second network device; and the first network device scheduling its communication activities on the communication network. Additionally, the first network device can also determine whether a conflict exists between its desired or required allocation and an allocation of the second network device.
The preempting operation can be performed in a number of different ways. For example, in one embodiment, preemption comprises the step of adjusting a threshold to provide increased bandwidth availability to the first network device. In another embodiment, the step of preempting comprises the steps of the first network device informing the second network device of the preemption and of its scheduling requirement; and the second network device reallocating its bandwidth in a manner that does not conflict with the first network device. In a further embodiment, the step of preempting comprises the steps of the first network device informing the second network device of its scheduling requirement, and the second network device determining whether its own scheduling requirement is in conflict with the first network device. In this embodiment, the second network device can reallocate its bandwidth in a manner that does not conflict with the first network device.
Additionally, preemption in accordance with an embodiment of the invention can result in the second network device reallocating some or all of its scheduled bandwidth to a different communication window or channel. It can also comprise the steps of determining a relative priority of the network devices and further determining whether a given network device can preempt another network device based on the relative priority. Further, the scheduled allocations of a network device can comprise one or more network time or channel slots.
In accordance with another embodiment of the invention, the above described features and functionality can be performed using control logic disposed in a network device configured to operate within a communication network, the network device can further include a housing and a transmitter and receiver within the housing; network device, and wherein the other network device is configured to determine whether its own scheduling requirement is in conflict with the first network device.
In yet another embodiment of the invention, an executable program product including a body of program code executable by a processor is provided to perform the described features and functions of the invention. Thus, in one embodiment, the program code causes the processor to dynamically allocate the bandwidth utilization of a first network device in accordance with the various features described therein.
Further features and advantages of the present invention, as well as the structure and operation of various embodiments of the present invention, are described in detail below with reference to the accompanying drawings.
The present invention, in accordance with one or more various embodiments, is described in detail with reference to the following figures. The drawings are provided for purposes of illustration only and merely depict typical or example embodiments of the invention. These drawings are provided to facilitate the reader's understanding of the invention and shall not be considered limiting of the breadth, scope, or applicability of the invention. It should be noted that for clarity and ease of illustration these drawings are not necessarily made to scale.
The present invention is directed toward a system and method for providing defragmentation of communication channel allocations. The communication channel can be that of a communication network or other communication channel. One example communication channel is a wireless network. An exemplary implementation of a wireless network is a network as specified by the WiMedia-MBOA (Multiband OFDM Alliance), although the invention can be implemented with other networks and communication channels as well.
Before describing the invention in detail, it is useful to describe an example environment in which the invention can be implemented. One such example is a wireless beaconing network in which multiple electronic devices (for example, computers and computing devices, cellular telephones, personal digital assistants, motion and still cameras, among others) can communicate and share data, content and other information with one another. One example of such a network is that specified by the WiMedia standard (within WiMedia and Multi-Band OFDM Alliance). From time-to-time, the present invention is described herein in terms of a distributed network or in terms of the WiMedia standard. Description in terms of these environments is provided to allow the various features and embodiments of the invention to be portrayed in the context of an exemplary application. After reading this description, it will become apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art how the invention can be implemented in different and alternative environments. Indeed, applicability of the invention is not limited to a distributed wireless network, nor is it limited to the MB-UWB standard described as one implementation of the example environment.
Most network standards specify policies or rules that govern the behavior of network connected devices. The WiMedia standard specifies the mechanism and policies that are to be followed by W-USB and WiNet compliant devices in order to allow for an ad hoc and distributed network of such devices to operate efficiently. Policies, requirements, protocols, rules, guidelines or other factors used to incentivize, recommend, specify, govern, control or manage the behavior of devices operating in a communication network are generally referred to herein as utilization policies.
In most distributed networks, the network of the devices is maintained by requiring all devices to announce parameters such as their presence, their capabilities and their intentions for reserving transmission slots and so on. For example, with the WiMedia standard, this can be done during what are referred to as beacon period time slots. According to this standard, devices joining the network are expected to monitor the beacon period to learn about the network status and parameters before attempting to use the network. In other network configurations, beacon periods are similarly used to allow management of network devices as described more fully below. Thus, beacon periods are one form of window or network period during which scheduling or other housekeeping activities can be conducted. Beacon periods in the above-referenced standard, and other time periods used for scheduling or other housekeeping chores in other network configurations, are generally referred to as scheduling windows.
Devices are typically allowed to enter a power save mode to conserve power and possibly prolong operation. For example, battery operated devices may enter a sleep mode or even a deep-sleep mode, wherein one or more of their functions are diminished or shut down in order to conserve power. Depending on the environment, devices may be allowed to enter into a sleep mode for short or long periods of time. For example, a sleep mode can be an energy-saving mode of operation in which some or all components are shut down or their operation limited. Many battery-operated devices, such as notebook computers, cell phones, and other portable electronic devices support one or more levels of a sleep mode. For example, when a notebook computer goes into one level of sleep mode, it may turn off the hard drive and still allow the user to perform operations, only powering up the hard drive when access is needed. In a deeper level of sleep, the computer may further turn off the display. In yet a further level of sleep, the computer may enter a hibernate state. Likewise, other electronic devices communicating across a communication channel may have similar sleep states and may power down unnecessary or unused components, including an RF transceiver, depending on a number of factors such as elapsed time, activities and so on. As described below, in accordance with one embodiment, devices may be prompted to enter a sleep mode upon completion of scheduling or other housekeeping activities and be configured to awaken for scheduled activities such as, for example, communication activities.
With many applications, the wireless network 1020 operates in a relatively confined area, such as, for example, a home or an office. The example illustrated in
Also illustrated in the example wireless network 1020 are portable electronic devices such as a cellular telephone 1010 and a personal digital assistant (PDA) 1012. Like the other electronic devices illustrated in
Additionally, the example environment illustrated in
Also illustrated is a personal computer 1060 or other computing device connected to wireless network 1020 via a wireless air interface. As depicted in the illustrated example, personal computer 1060 can also provide connectivity to an external network such as the Internet 1046.
In the illustrated example, wireless network 1020 is implemented so as to provide wireless connectivity to the various electronic devices associated therewith. Wireless network 1020 allows these devices to share data, content, and other information with one another across wireless network 1020. Typically, in such an environment, the electronic devices would have the appropriate transmitter, receiver, or transceiver to allow communication via the air interface with other devices associated with wireless network 1020. These electronic devices may conform to one or more appropriate wireless standards and, in fact, multiple standards may be in play within a given neighborhood. Electronic devices associated with the network typically also have control logic configured to manage communications across the network and to manage the operational functionality of the electronic device. Such control logic can be implemented using hardware, software, or a combination thereof. For example, one or more processors, ASICs, PLAs, and other logic devices or components can be included with the device to implement the desired features and functionality. Additionally, memory or other data and information storage capacity can be included to facilitate operation of the device and communication across the network. Software can include program code that is executable by a processing device to perform the desired functions.
Electronic devices operating as a part of wireless network 1020 are sometimes referred to herein as network devices, members or member devices of the network or devices associated with the network. In one embodiment devices that communicate with a given network may be members or merely in communication with the network.
Some communication networks are divided into periods or frames that can be used for communication and other activities. For example, as discussed above, some networks have a scheduling window such as, for example, a beacon period, for scheduling upcoming communication activities. Also, some networks have a communication window during which such communication activities take place. In the WiMedia-MBOA standard, the bandwidth is divided into superframes, which in turn are divided into time slots for the transmission and reception of data by the various electronic devices associated with the network.
An example of such time slots are illustrated in
Having thus described an example environment in which the invention can be implemented, various features and embodiments of the invention are now described in further detail. Description may be provided in terms of this example environment for ease of discussion and understanding only. After reading the description herein, it will become apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art that the present invention can be implemented in any of a number of different communication environments (including wired or wireless communication environments, and distributed or non-distributed networks) operating with any of a number of different electronic devices and according to various similar or alternative protocols or specifications.
In the example environment of the WiMedia-MBOA network, the wireless network is a distributed wireless network, which is typically defined as a network having no designated master or host to control traffic on its channels. Thus, instead of a host controlling bandwidth access for example, these networks typically rely on self policing, or self-control on the part of the various electronic devices associated with the network to conform to network policies, guidelines or standards. In this example network, each electronic device associated with the network can reserve certain time slots of each superframe to transmit its packets based on its Quality of Service or power conservation requirements. As such, the network load is dynamically distributed and can be changed within a superframe as time progresses. As users come and go, the unoccupied slots within a superframe can easily get fragmented to the point that a user may not be able to find the required or the optimal configuration of the slots (either contiguous or uniformly distributed, or otherwise) to meet their needs. This problem can also exist in other types of networks or scheduled communication channels where access slots become fragmented. However, the problem and the solutions provided by the present invention are not limited to communication channels scheduled on the basis of time. Fragmentation can also exist with channels having bandwidth access shared on the basis of frequency division, code division, spatial division and other mechanisms. As such, the solutions presented herein, can be applied across these various forms of communication channels.
This problem can be similar to fragmentation problem that often occurs on hard drives, which could hurt performance if not addressed. However, because the network's bandwidth allocation space (for example, a superframe in the case of an MBOA channel) is usually much smaller than a typical hard drive in capacity, this problem can arise relatively quickly in the case of a communication channel. Additionally, the problem could become debilitating for some electronic devices that may desire or even require a particular slot configuration for proper operation. In a highly fragmented network, even if there are plenty of slots open, without defragmentation or without proper allocation and reallocation schemes, a user's use of the network could become hampered or rendered impossible.
Utilization policies can be implemented to define appropriate bandwidth utilization among devices, as well as other network behavior. Utilization policies can help with defragmentation of the network, which is preferably implemented so as to take place without disrupting service, or with only minimal disruption. Defragmentation can be implemented in various ways, depending on the network devices and the communication goals and objectives. For example, defragmentation might be accomplished by providing a communication device with the ability to combine its reservations in contiguous time slots. As another example, defragmentation can encompass providing reservations slots in a predetermined pattern or other basis. As these examples illustrate, other allocations can be sought as an outcome of the defragmentation process to allow for improved utility of the available capacity for the various devices, users or applications. Because defragmentation or other reallocation is possible in a number of ways but there is a possibility that it could be quite time consuming or disruptive, it is preferable that it be kept simple and effective.
For each communication channel or communication network, depending on what type of applications are expected on that network, the term defragmentation can take on different meanings. The terms “defragmentation” and “defragmented” do not necessarily refer to complete defragmentation. In other words, these terms do not necessarily imply that all of the reserved slots are packed together as contiguously as possible. In other words, there can be varying degrees of fragmentation or defragmentation. In fact, in some embodiments, it may be preferable to be defragmented in such a way so as to distribute some or all of the reservations of one or more devices in such a way as to let other such applications receive their desired service interval. This can arise, for example, where a device or class of devices may have certain limitations on its or their service intervals. Thus, the term defragmentation and its variants can also refer to reallocation of bandwidth among devices.
According to one embodiment of the invention, defragmentation can be implemented to take place by mandate, where network devices are required to defragment according to one or more policies. In accordance with another embodiment of the invention, network devices are incentivized to follow utilization policies, including defragmentation practices. That is, a device can be either obligated or required to adjust its timeslot utilization or it can be given incentives to adjust its utilization—for example, positive to do so, or negative incentives for not doing so. Thus, for example, a device can be either obligated to move its slot reservations to a more optimal location within the window of slots within a certain period of time. Alternatively, policies or procedures could be adopted or implemented in such a way that rather than mandating a device to move its slots, there may be penalties (for example, performance penalties) that it could incur by not moving its slots or benefits (for example, performance benefits) gained by so moving its slots.
Additionally, a hybrid approach is provided, wherein a combination of requirements and incentives (positive or negative incentives) can be provided to manage the defragmentation process. For example, a network may operate in such a way as to allow incentivized defragmentation where the network is operating well within its capacity, and switch to a mandated or obligatory defragmentation during periods of heavy utilization where bandwidth is at a premium. Thus, the network can be monitored in real time or near real time based on factors such as, for example, current channel loading, network performance, or other factors.
In a step 126, one or more network conditions are monitored to detect conditions that could indicate operational concerns. Several examples are highlighted to illustrate such possible conditions. For example, bandwidth utilization can be monitored to determine whether the network is at or near capacity, or over utilized. As another example, the status of network devices can be monitored to determine whether a device is operating out of conformance with network parameters, requirements, protocols or other such utilization policies. Additionally, levels of defragmentation on the network can be monitored. As these examples indicate, other network conditions can also be monitored to determine whether current defragmentation policies are acceptable, or whether a change is mandated. The monitoring can take place by a network master, where such device exists, by one or more devices associated with a distributed network, or by each device on its own based on the policies of a standard protocol.
Where it is determined that the network is operating out of tolerance or acceptable bounds for one or more of the network conditions, the network can transition from an incentivized mode to a mandated mode (or remain in a mandated mode), requiring devices to implement defragmentation policies at least to a certain extent. This is illustrated by steps 128 and 130 in
Incentive approaches for defragmentation can be implemented in a number of different ways. A network device may be requested to move or adjust its slot allocation to help the system maintain or improve its level of defragmentation. This can be accomplished, for example, inherently through protocols, usage requirements or other such utilization policies, or explicitly by request of other devices/hosts. In this example, the device in question may be rewarded with increases in bandwidth allocation, for example, for conforming to the request. As indicated, in another embodiment, the device in question may be penalized by, for example, limiting future bandwidth allocations if the device does not conform to the request.
In such incentivized approaches, the system can provide the freedom of choice with the device such that if an application is necessarily unable to move its reservation slots due to some unforeseen circumstances, that it can continue its operation without disruption, but perhaps at a cost of performance. Additionally, the incentivized form of defragmentation can be implemented so as to place certain burdens on the offending devices such that they would be opting for non-offensive reservations within the network whenever possible. This extra burden could be in the form of extra monitoring tasks, extra reporting effort, limitation in bandwidth utilization, etc.
In one embodiment, the choices of particular penalties or rewards as well as choices between penalties and rewards may be made dynamically based on a current status or health of the network. Thus, where bandwidth is particularly tight during a given period, for example, it may be determined that the incentive is a bandwidth penalty for non-compliance with the request. In furtherance of this example, and in terms of the example environment, network devices may be implemented so as to detect bandwidth utilization, and to self-impose predetermined penalties for not conforming to defragmentation guidelines depending on the network condition.
In another embodiment, dynamic incentives can be implemented to vary based on the magnitude of the offense; the frequency, quantity or number of times a given device has committed offenses; the status of the network or any of a number of other factors. Thus, for example, penalties can become more severe for a device that frequently ignores requests, or more severe as network conditions degrade. For example, where bandwidth is becoming increasingly tight, the bandwidth penalty (or other incentive) for non-compliance can be increased accordingly. Thus, as network conditions become more severe, the incentives become greater. In furtherance of this example, and in terms of the example environment, network devices may be implemented so as to detect bandwidth utilization, and to self-impose increasing levels of predetermined penalties for not conforming to defragmentation guidelines as network conditions dictate.
Various techniques can be used to enforce the incentives as may be desired or appropriate for the network application. For example, in the example WiMedia network and others a methodology (for example, within the Medium Access Control layer) can be implemented to announce the offending reservations of a device to other network devices. Thus, the other network devices receiving announcement of such reservations can determine whether and to what extent to preempt the offending devices out of their slots. The above-described preemption mechanism can be accomplished in a number of different ways. For example, the preemptor can announce allowable reservations that overlap with the preemptible reservations of the offending device. This overlap can be detected by the offender and indicate to the offender that it should move or remove its reservations.
In another embodiment, a network master can be provided with the ability to deny bandwidth requests from the offending device or to otherwise appropriately allocate bandwidth among network devices in accordance with the policies as may be in effect. In yet another embodiment, network devices can be implemented so as to be self policing in that they impose their own penalties for non-conformance with defragmentation guidelines. For example, a network device may opt to not follow defragmentation guidelines and in return not utilize an appropriate amount of bandwidth as indicated by the guidelines. Additionally, a device may dynamically monitor the network conditions and defragment or change its reservations, if monitored conditions change (for example, more users join the network, available bandwidth becomes tighter, or levels of fragmentation reach a predetermined threshold).
In one embodiment, a device can be identified as being an offending device vis-ą-vis the reservations using any of a number of different techniques. For example, the device's reservation request can be compared relative to what reservations are permitted or acceptable to determine whether the device is violating the reservation protocol. As another example, a device may identify or announce its reservation request and the other devices are configured to determine whether the reservation is an offense. A further example of one scenario where a device may be considered an offending device is a situation where a device designated to operate in an unrestricted region of the communication channel requests reservations that extend into the restricted region.
Offending devices can be configured to notify others that they are in violation of the reservation protocol or utilization policy. One way to accomplish this is for the offending device to set a flag (for example, it can set a bit to a designated state) indicating that it is in violation of the policy. Another way is to announce the offense to other devices during the beacon period so that other devices are aware that the device is out of conformance. The device may also provide details of the offense such as, for example, an identification of requested slots that are out of conformance. Other devices may, depending on the network configuration, be able to preempt the offending device. Examples of such preemption are discussed further herein in one embodiment.
In one embodiment, until preemption or other penalties takes place, the offending device may be permitted to continue with its reservations without modifying its behavior. The network device can be implemented so as to be aware that as long as it continues its offending behavior, it may be subject to preemption by other devices or other penalties. Thus, the network devices can be implemented to, over time and as other slots become empty, transition its reservations or modify its behavior so that it is out of the danger of penalties. This very act of voluntary movement of slots can lead to defragmentation of the communication window.
In one embodiment, defragmentation can be implemented to allow for flexibility of slot reservation and usage as well. For example, one compromise that can be implemented is to let the network devices choose any reservation they like or need, as long as there are no other users contending for some or all of those slots. Once a contention for those slots occurs, then the offending device is expected to move its reservations, and can be asked to, required to or incentivized to move its reservations. This approach allows for freedom of choice on per-device basis, but also gives the network in general the ability to manage resources. In this embodiment, the network can be described as having veto power (whether implemented by a master, by self policing of devices, by other network devices pre-empting the offending device or otherwise), when necessary, to force an offending device out of an offensive slot. This veto power can be implemented so as to ensure that network performance is maintained to a desired level and that available bandwidth is equitably distributed among all devices.
As the above example illustrates, one advantage of the incentivized approach is that devices can be given the freedom to make certain choices to optimize their performance, and in hybrid embodiments or embodiments where incentives are dynamic, network performance can be assured, at least to a certain level. For example, a device with certain power constraints and with relatively low bandwidth requirements may opt for a particular fragmentation that conserves power by maximizing sleep time at the cost of having a lower bandwidth allocation.
As noted above, in one embodiment the devices are self regulating in that they are implemented so as to follow the prescribed reservation policies and to yield to other devices in accordance with those policies. One technique for ensuring compliance with these policies is to require interoperability testing for the devices as part of a certification process.
One approach to implementing the above is to split the channel (for example, a superframe of timeslots) into zones, where the zones can be pre-designated for certain applications or types of applications or for utilization by certain types or classes of devices, or designated from time-to-time for allocation and reallocation to certain types of applications or for utilization by certain types or classes of devices. Zones can also be pre-designated to more than one application or device (or class thereof) such that a designation might be shared among multiple entities. This sharing can be done on an equal footing basis, where the designated entities share the slots on par with one another, or on a weighted or priority basis. For example, the sharing can be done on a priority basis wherein one of the sharing entities takes priority over another sharing entity and they both take priority over all other non-sharing entities.
As one example, certain timeslots may be designated for real-time content delivery devices, such as for example video devices. In this example, a video device can preempt other non-video devices from utilizing certain zones or groupings of slots. For example, the network might be implemented such that a DVD player and a video recorder on the network could preempt other non-video devices from their designated slots or zone of slots. As a further example, a DVD player tasked with playing video content in real time (for example streaming video to an HDTV monitor) might be designated as taking priority over a video recording downloading content for storage or archival purposes to a network drive. Thus, in this further example, the DVD player would have the ability to preempt the video recorder from the DVD player's designated slots or zone of slots. However, because network users do not always have a priori knowledge of what types of applications or devices will be using the network in each instance and location, in order to allow for maximum network utility, each device can be given the freedom to use any slots it can or prefers without regard to the pre-designated zone.
As the above example illustrates, network devices designed for a particular application can have different requirements in terms of data rate, throughput, power consumption, etc. In order to perform their functions and provide efficiency in terms of complexity, cost and power management, network devices can be implemented so as to enable flexible allocation of bandwidth (such as, for example, the allocation of MAC superframe slots in the example environment).
For example, some network devices routinely transfer large amounts of data (such as FTP transfers, media transfers, and so on) to and from storage devices and other devices. Such devices often benefit from a reservation policy allowing continuous transfer. However, continuous transfers of large amounts of data can tie up network resources at the expense of other network devices. Thus, in one embodiment, the network can be configured to allow such devices to wait for an appropriate transfer window, deliver all the desired data at once, or in large blocks, and then go into a sleep mode or other power saving mode. For example, large transfers can be scheduled for periods of quiet time or periods where network utilization is at a minimum.
Another type of network device, for example a video playback device, may deliver time sensitive data in small but continuous blocks. The data can be divided into blocks and distributed across multiple windows, but some level of continuity is desired. For example, for video playback, the content information does not always need to be delivered all at once, but can be delivered as it is played, preferably with some buffer amount, and with continuity. Therefore, in one embodiment, such devices are allowed to reserve MAC slots at specific intervals. Furthermore, in another embodiment the invention can be implemented to provide a dynamic allocation and re-allocation policy allowing devices that benefit from a continuous transmission to allocate the required MAC slot resources while defining policy to release those continuous slots when devices with strict timing requirements (and as such, higher priority) request some of the super-frame slots.
In one embodiment, the window (for example, a superframe 104) can be divided into sections. For example, the communication window can be divided into two sections—a restricted section and an unrestricted section. In one embodiment, a network device making reservations in the unrestricted areas is permitted to allocate several consecutive slots within that zone. In one embodiment, the allocation can be made up to the slot boundaries, and those boundaries are hard-defined and cannot be moved. This embodiment, however, can result in restrictive and inefficient utilizations. For example, a scenario may arise that unnecessarily restricts the operation of time sensitive devices even when no device operates in the unrestricted area.
Although a dynamic implementation can be utilized that allows adjustment of the boundary between the zones, difficulties may arise with this solution. For example, rules can be defined to specify and allow for the boundary between restricted and unrestricted areas to be adjusted or moved dynamically adjusting the amount of bandwidth allocated among device types. For an illustration of a difficulty that may arise with this second solution, consider an example hypothetical allocation of a superframe 104 as presented in
To further illustrate, consider what could happen when an additional device with the preferred mode of operation as unrestricted enters the network. Assume that to satisfy its bandwidth requirements, the added device needs to reserve 11 media access slots per superframe 104. This is illustrated in
To address this potential shortcoming, one embodiment of the invention provides for dynamic allocation of reservations. More particularly, in one embodiment, the invention provides a dynamic allocation of reservations for timeslots that are required or preferred to be contiguous (e.g., vertical reservations in the superframe representation illustrated in
To illustrate dynamic allocation, consider an example defined in terms of the example environment. In this environment, a WiMedia-MBOA device as defined by the WiMedia-MBOA specifications can be configured to send and receive a beacon frame before any transmission activities. Within this beacon frame, each device can define its capabilities, transmission requirements (i.e., reservation of MAC slots), control information, etc. In one embodiment, dynamic allocation of vertical reservations can be permitted while still providing some level of bandwidth protection for the delay sensitive devices. This can be accomplished, for example, by requesting release of the additional MAC slots 108 from the restricted area 212.
In the example environment, the MAC specification document version 0.95, the DRP Allocation field is redefined from the settings in Table 1 below to the settings in Table 2 below.
Because there are only 15 zones in the example environment, the zones can be encoded using only four bits from the Zone Bitmap field while leaving the remaining four bits reserved for future use. Furthermore, the first octet can be designated for the Unrestricted Mode Request (UMR). In one embodiment, the unrestricted mode request is defined as shown in Table 3. In this embodiment, the UMR includes an unrestricted Reservation Request field (URR) and a field for the requested number of sets above restricted threshold (RNS). For example, URR can have the bit definition: 0001—UMR; all other—Reserved. The RNS can be used to define the required number of additional horizontal sets the Unrestricted Mode device is requesting to be released.
Each device can be implemented so as to (or can be required to) check the DRP Allocation field within the beacon period before transmission in the current superframe 104, and the superframe allocation can be adjusted if appropriate.
If the device is operating in the restricted mode, for a given communication window (e.g., Superframen) and for a given communication zone (e.g., Zonek), the allocation is checked to determine whether it is requesting slots that would conflict with an unrestricted device's request for additional allocation. In one embodiment this is done by checking to see whether its DEV_ALLOCATION≧RESTRICTED_THR+RNS, and is illustrated by a step 310. If so, in a step 316, the slots up to RESTRICTED_THR+RNS are released by the restricted device for the next communication window (for example, in Superframen+1). Otherwise, operation continues as normal. If the device is operating in the unrestricted mode, in one embodiment it does not need to perform this operation. In this example, preference is given to the delay sensitive devices operating in the restricted mode, and the delay sensitive devices are asked to release only their unused slots, and only when such slots are designated as requested by an unrestricted device. In one embodiment, this can be done on a zone-by-zone basis, wherein the requests for each zone are evaluated.
In one embodiment, however, certain devices, can be given superstatus, where they may be permitted to trump delay sensitive devices and be given slots that would otherwise be used by the delay sensitive devices. This may be desirable, for example, where the power sensitivity of a given device or class of devices is high and the device is critical to the network. Additionally, various devices' status (or status of classes of devices) can be weighted, and the determination of whether to release used or unused slots can be made, at least in part, based on the relative weighting of devices contending for the slots.
There are several ways the restricted zone threshold can be defined in implementing dynamic allocation. For example, one embodiment allows implementation without additional signaling or parameters. In one embodiment, each device may be required to implicitly extract this threshold from the MAS Bitmap field.
In another embodiment, the upper nibble of the ZONE_BITMAP may be allocated to indicate the device zone restricted threshold. One advantage that may be gained by this method is that the threshold may be different in every zone. As such this methodology can offer enhanced flexibility and MAC super-slot utilization.
In yet another embodiment, one or more octets can be allocated to indicate the current restricted threshold for the next communication window. This may be a compromise with the conventional solutions for dynamic allocation. This threshold can be set by last device within the beacon period.
In another embodiment of the invention, a methodology can be implemented that considers preferred thresholds of multiple devices when setting the threshold for one or more upcoming communication windows. This can be in such a way as to allow for a dynamic threshold (in some cases, completely dynamic) between restricted and unrestricted areas of the allocation table.
Referring now to
In a step 412, the new threshold can be calculated based on the various requested preferred thresholds (THRp's) of the interested devices. For example, in one embodiment, each device can calculate the next threshold, THRn, to be the greater of the default threshold (eight in the example described) and the smaller of all preferred thresholds in the beacons. This example methodology can be used to ensure a certain level of performance to restricted devices. Other criteria can be used to compute the next threshold. For example, a network designer may determine that power conservation is more critical than delay sensitive device performance, and as such, may select the next threshold to accommodate the maximum requested threshold.
The network devices can then adjust their next threshold, THRn, in their Beacon within mMaxLostBeacons to the newly calculated threshold. Once every device has updated their next threshold, THRn, to the new common threshold, each device can use that threshold in the next superframe as the new current threshold, THRc. (so, THRc and THRn in the beacon will be identical at that point.) The preferred thresholds can be reexamined every superframe, and the next threshold, THRn, adjust as necessary, with a max adjustment delay of mMaxLostBeacon superframes. Certain restrictions may be put on the range of the thresholds THRc/p/n. For example, in one embodiment they may be only in the range of 4-15.
To implement the above, the DRP EE frame format can be changed from the format shown in Table 4 to the format shown in Table 5.
The Allocation Zone Thresholds field is further defined as shown in Table 6.
In another embodiment of the invention, two types of thresholds are defined to allow flexibility in assigning bandwidth to various devices or classes of devices. For example, in one implementation a hard threshold and a soft threshold are implemented. Preferably, the hard threshold is established and typically would not change. The hard threshold can be set to provide a certain level of guaranteed performance to a class of devices. For example, the hard threshold can be established to ensure that delay sensitive devices have sufficient bandwidth for delay sensitive activities, even if it is at the expense or inconvenience of power sensitive devices. In one embodiment in the example environment, the hard threshold can be established as the conventional boundary between the restricted region 212 and the unrestricted region 214. The unrestricted region up to the hard threshold in one embodiment can be referred to as the hard unrestricted region. In one embodiment, the hard unrestricted region may change from time to time and under certain circumstances as for example occurs with conventional implementations of the WiMedia specification.
The soft threshold can be defined as one that can change based on changing conditions or circumstances of the network and its devices. In one embodiment, network devices can request changes to the soft threshold, and such changes are arbitrated or otherwise decided upon according to various techniques. The unrestricted region beyond hard unrestricted region and up to the soft threshold can be referred to as the soft unrestricted region for purposes of discussion. In one embodiment, vertical allocations up to the soft threshold (even where extending beyond the hard threshold) are allowed, but have lower priority in soft unrestricted region.
As stated above, the soft threshold can change increasing or decreasing the size of the soft unrestricted region, dynamically altering the allocation among devices. For example, in one embodiment delay sensitive devices are given priority and thus if a horizontal allocation is requested by a network device, the soft threshold may be changed to allow more bandwidth for the delay sensitive device(s). Any vertical allocations that may exist or have been requested within the soft unrestricted region can be re-distributed/re-allocated to allow for and adjustment of the soft threshold and to permit the horizontal allocation within what was the soft unrestricted region prior to adjustment. Thus, in this example, bandwidth is reallocated from the unrestricted region to the restricted region.
Additionally, should the demand for a horizontal allocation of bandwidth subsequently decrease such that there is un-requested or unallocated bandwidth in the restricted region, the system can be configured so as to adjust the soft threshold downward, reallocating bandwidth that was previously dedicated to delay-sensitive devices, making that bandwidth available to power-sensitive devices. The adjustment of the soft threshold up and down can be done based on the allocation requirements for a device or class of devices. Certain devices or classes of devices can be given a higher priority or a relative weighting to allow flexibility in determining when and by how much to adjust the soft threshold. For example, in one embodiment the soft threshold can be adjusted based primarily on requirements of delay-sensitive devices. In this example, as delay-sensitive devices require allocations, the soft threshold can be moved so as to increase the bandwidth available in the restricted region, at the expense of the unrestricted region. Thus, vertical allocations in the unrestricted region have a greater likelihood of being broken up or fragmented into smaller pieces across the available bandwidth.
Depending on the goals of the network implementation, certain limitations or restrictions can be placed on the redistribution of the soft threshold. For example, in one embodiment, the redistribution, or reallocation, of bandwidth is implemented only if after redistribution there are a certain number of unallocated media access slots in the hard unrestricted region and soft unrestricted region. For example, in one embodiment, the number of slots required to remain in the unrestricted region can be set to 30 although other allocations are possible. This limitation may be desirable to ensure that there are sufficient allocations remaining in the unrestricted region to allow a certain level of flexibility and network operation. Additionally, it could be required that there be a sufficient number of media access slots remaining for delay-sensitive devices to use after the redistribution of media access slots for power-sensitive devices into the soft unrestricted region.
As yet another example, there can be restrictions placed on the number of communication windows or superframes across which a device can be expected to reallocate its bandwidth. For example, there may be requirements that a device not be required to reallocate its vertical access for a given superframe across multiple superframes. As these examples illustrate, it is contemplated that there be flexibility in allowing a network designer to determine the placement of hard and soft thresholds and the allocation and reallocation of bandwidth based on the movement of one or more of these thresholds as network conditions and priorities may change over time. Thus, it would be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art after reading this description, how to implement other criteria, conditions and requirements for allocation of bandwidth in accordance with these embodiments.
Additionally, as some of the above examples illustrate, priority or preference may be given to delay-sensitive devices as disruptions in bandwidth for delay-sensitive devices tend to have effects that are noticeable by users or that may be detrimental to the overall goals of the network devices. However, as discussed above, it is contemplated that in alternative embodiments, priority can be given to power-sensitive devices should concerns for the power-sensitivity of these devices outweigh concerns for performance of the delay-sensitive devices. Additionally, there can be other classes or type of devices to which bandwidth is allocated and around which arbitration decisions are made. Of course, within classes of devices there may be subclasses and thus, classes, subclasses and individual devices can be given relative priorities in bandwidth allocation considerations. Thus, for example even where one class of devices typically takes priority over a second class of devices, there may be a device or a subclass of devices in the second class that would trump or take priority over devices in the first class.
A number of mechanisms can be implemented to allow arbitration of the bandwidth between the restricted and unrestricted regions. A few examples of these methodologies are discussed to illustrate the possibilities that can exist for such allocation. For example, in one embodiment, a network device which is implemented so as to request horizontal reservations within the soft unrestricted region even if one or more of the requested media access slots within the soft unrestricted regions are already reserved for or allocated to vertical allocations. This can be done, for example, by requesting the allocation during the beacon period in the example environment or during other like periods in alternative environments. Once such a request for bandwidth in the soft unrestricted region is made, a determination can be made as to whether to reallocate that bandwidth to the devices operating in the unrestricted region. In other words, it can be determined whether to adjust the soft threshold to provide the requested reallocation of bandwidth.
In one embodiment, when such requests are detected by devices having vertical allocations utilizing media access slots in the soft unrestricted region, these devices automatically initiate a redistribution of their allocations to allow for an adjustment of the soft threshold and thus an increase in the restricted region. This typically requires the devices with vertical allocations to chop up these allocations into multiple separate vertical allocations as is illustrated by examples described below. In one embodiment, network devices with the deepest allocations within the soft unrestricted region are requested to initiate the redistribution procedure first. Thus, the redistribution procedure can be done on an iterative basis until the soft threshold is set so as to accommodate the device requesting the horizontal reservations.
As yet another example of the various ways the allocation can be determined, in one embodiment, devices requesting the soft unrestricted region for a horizontal allocation are required to announce the current values of the soft and hard thresholds. This embodiment may be desirable in that it can reduce the complexity for low-latency (horizontal) devices to calculate hard and soft thresholds. These thresholds can be added in the DRP as additional fields to announce in the beacons.
To better illustrate dynamic allocation, a few examples are now described.
In a scenario where the first device is not requesting bandwidth region 228, there is sufficient room within the communication window to allow the second device to have a 12-slot vertical allocation. Thus, in this scenario, the soft threshold can be changed to 15 (i.e., the hard, unrestricted region and soft unrestricted region comprise 16 media access slots). However, because the first device is requesting a horizontal allocation as illustrated by shaded region 226 and 228, there is a conflict where both devices are requesting access to the same media access slot. This is illustrated by shaded region 228. Because of this conflict, the available bandwidth should be reallocated such as to allow both devices to perform the desired network activities within the given communication window.
As described above, in one embodiment, in one embodiment the device operating in the restricted region requests its bandwidth allocation as illustrated in
One option for redistribution of the vertical allocation is illustrated in
To further illustrate the redistribution of the soft threshold, consider a more congested scenario where several network devices are operating within both the restricted and unrestricted regions. Such an example scenario is illustrated in
Continuing with the example illustrated
As another example, consider the possible scenario illustrated in
Note that in one embodiment, the soft threshold 242 does not need to be adjusted to ensure that none of the horizontal allocations are made in the soft unrestricted region. As the example illustrated in
In yet another embodiment of the invention, the system can be implemented with the capability to calculate transmitter and receiver thresholds, including, for example, hard and soft thresholds. Because a network device may have different communication requirements relative to the various other network devices, thresholds for a receiver may be calculated from each of the receiver's and transmitter's own point of view of the network, which could be different from one another. Thus, in one embodiment, each of the receiver and the transmitter can be configured to determine, for example, the amount by which a given reservation or group of reservations exceeds a given threshold. In one embodiment, each of the receiver and the transmitter can be requested to announce their thresholds during a setup period such as, for example, the beacon period in the example environment. Thus, as a result of these announcements, other devices operating in the network know the status and requirements of the given receiver and transmitter.
In one embodiment, a network device having a proper level of priority, can utilize these numbers to preempt another device where appropriate. For example, in a network where horizontal allocations have priority over vertical allocations, a network device communicating with horizontal allocations can look at vertical allocations of another device and determine whether a conflict exists and, if so, preempt the other device from one or more slots in conflict. As illustrated above, the preemption can take the form of adjusting the soft threshold such as to decrease the soft unrestricted region thereby requiring all devices having a vertical allocation to remain within the reallocated boundaries. In other embodiments, the preemption can merely require that the offending device reallocate its requested bandwidth in a manner that does not conflict with other devices or other higher priority devices. Although it may be desirable for the preempted develop to reallocate its bandwidth in the current communication window (for example, superframe 104 in the example environment), such a constraint is not always a requirement. Indeed, a preempted device may be permitted to or may be forced to reallocate a portion of its desired network activities to subsequent communication windows. As would be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art after reading this description, a number of different preemption mechanisms can be implemented to achieve the desired goals.
While various embodiments of the present invention have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example only, and not of limitation. Thus the breadth and scope of the present invention should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should be defined only in accordance with the following claims and their equivalents. Additionally, the invention is described above in terms of various exemplary embodiments and implementations. It should be understood that the various features and functionality described in one or more of the individual embodiments are not limited in their applicability to the particular embodiment with which they are described, but instead can be applied, alone or in some combination, to one or more of the other embodiments of the invention, whether or not such embodiments are described and whether or not such features are presented as being a part of a described embodiment.
Terms and phrases used in this document, and variations thereof, unless otherwise expressly stated, should be construed as open ended as opposed to limiting. As examples of the foregoing: the term “including” should be read as mean “including, without limitation” or the like; the term “example” is used to provide exemplary instances of the item in discussion, not an exhaustive or limiting list thereof; and adjectives like “conventional,” “traditional,” “normal,” “standard,” and terms of similar meaning should not be construed as limiting the item described to a given time period or to an item available as of a given time, but instead should be read to encompass conventional, traditional, normal, or standard technologies that may be available now or at any time in the future. Likewise, a group of items linked with the conjunction “and” should not be read as requiring that each and every one of those items be present in the grouping, but rather should be read as “and/or” unless expressly stated otherwise.