Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Pre-Review: Network Processors: Architectures, Protocols, and Platforms

Today I received the first of several books which I hope will illuminate the world of hardware specially-built for networking tasks. This book is Network Processors: Architectures, Protocols, and Platforms by Panos Lekkas and published by McGraw-Hill. A network processor is a programmable processor designed specifically for processing packets. They are an alternative to Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), which cost about $1 million each to design.

The same day I received this book, I also got the new copy of Cisco's IP Journal. This is a free quarterly newsletter I recommend every networking professional read. In a dash of Police-esque synchronicity, the first article is by Douglas Comer and introduces readers to network processors. I am looking forward to reading Prof. Comer's Network Systems Design with Network Processors, Agere Version. His article alludes to a version of that book for the Intel 2xxx family of network processors.


Anonymous said...

Hopefully this will bring closer the long overdue Active Networks. I remember having studied these in school, years ago, and having written a security paper, discussing the need for active networks in dynamically creating VPNs ... who knows ... one of these days ...

Richard Bejtlich said...


Just how far should an active network extend? I'm already wary of projects like Cisco's Self-Defending Network. I'm afraid that as more functionality is added to devices which previously concentrated on moving packets, there will be even more opportunities to exploit those devices. I feel more comfortable with the current model where "intelligence" is applied closer to the network edge. I haven't made up my mind yet, though.