Oh where Oh where did my protocol engine go?

In a walk down memory lane, Craig Partridge and Alex Cannara discussed Craig’s mention of an XCP meeting and Greg Chesson, Alex saying “But, we still have suboptimal network design, insofar as we depend on TCP from the ’80s and a glacial IETF process — all this while now having complete web servers on a chip inside an RJ45 jack! So maybe his ideas for SiProts were something to consider, even if they weren’t right on target?”

For those not in the know, Greg Chesson stepped on a lot of “TOEs” (hee hee) first in the early 1990’s with filing a lot of patents with protocol engines (PEI – backed by HP at the time).

I have a slide from a presentation that I did for Intel back in 1997 explaining why he failed — simply put, preprocessing likely conditions based on heuristics always failed in the general case, with the preprocessor commonly falling behind the processor even though it was put there to speed up the processing — so the software stack on average was usually faster.

This same process in FEPs has been repeatedly repatented in network processors — I reviewed several — but they never got the methods that allow for completion of the processing without falling behind (esp. on checksum, but there are also other conditions). I always thought Greg could sue a number of network processor companies for infringement, but since they all fail in the same way, who the hell cares.

Greg made his money in SGI, by the way, and look how that company eventually turned out — lots of “throw code over the fence” to linux, which undermined their own sales of systems. Very self-destructive company.

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