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Network Adapter

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Many of the functions of an adapter(data link or network) related functionality built into network adapter can be performed in software that runs on the node's CPU. What are advantages and disadvantages of moving this functionality from the adapter to the node?

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The key bottleneck for high-speed network is network interface due to the low bandwidth of I/O bus and lack of cache of device registers on the network interface card. Also the current network interface card is designed with an interface similar to a disk's interface. Most current network interfaces require application to use operating system calls. The CPU can only access the on-board registers in an in-order and non-speculative way. All these limitations make network interface card a bottleneck for the high performance network.

An adapter serves as an interface between the host (CPU) and the network link, so it is on the lowest level of network subsystem in the operating system. The adapter can be divided into two parts:
- the host half and
- the link half.

The host half "talks" to the host via I/O bus, while the link half "talks" to the network link media using particular physical layer ...

Solution Summary

Advantages and disadvantages of moving data link or network functionality from the network adapter to the CPU are explored.

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