Active Networks Group                          James P.G. Sterbenz, BBN
INTERNET-DRAFT                                    Alden W. Jackson, BBN
Category: Experimental                          Matthew N. Condell, BBN
                                                           1 April 2000

                         HyperActive Networking


Status of this Memo

   This memo defines an Experimental Architecture for the Internet
   community.  This memo does not specify an Internet standard of any
   kind.  Discussion and suggestions for improvement are requested.
   Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


   The cost of processors continues to decrease dramatically, and has
   resulted in the paradigm shift called Active Networking.  The
   continued decrease in processor cost and ubiquity of smart-everything
   leads us to propose the next revolution in network technology:
   HyperActive Networking.

   This document motivates the technology, proposes a reference
   architecture, and presents the results of preliminary research
   spanning the last several hours, consisting of packet formats,
   performance metrics, security considerations, and potential

1.0  Introduction

   The cost of processors continues to decrease dramatically.  This
   observation led to the proposition that new network services could be
   enabled by adding significant processing capabilities to network
   nodes, and by allowing packets (sometimes called capsules) to contain
   code to be executed at these nodes [TW96].  Thus, the discipline of
   active networking was born [CBZS98].

   We can now declare that Active Networking is a dramatic success and
   proven technology, as shown by the quantity of funded research,
   papers published, and lack of industry interest.  The continuing
   trends in the cost of processing power let us again rethink the

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   application of computing resource to the network infrastructure.  In
   particular, we can apply processing power to the communications wires
   themselves, creating smart wires, and propose a field of research:
   HyperActive Networks (HypeAN).

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   used in this document, are to be interpreted as described in

2.0  Architecture

   A great deal of effort has gone into the construction of the current
   Active Network reference model [Cal98].  Therefore, we will reuse it
   to the degree possible, given the time constraints of this
   architectural effort [1].  Thus, we have WiPEs (wire processing
   elements) in the wire (copper or fiber), a WireOS, WHEEs (Wire
   Hyperactive Execution Environments), and WAAHs (Wire Active
   Applications Hyperactive).

   There are some key differences from the active node that need to be
   considered in designing an active wire reference model, shown in
   Figure 1.

   (       +------+    +------+    +------+    +------+      )
   (       | WiPE |    | WiPE |    | WiPE |    | WiPE |      )
   (      +-----------------------------------------------+  )
   (     /          *---------- WAAH ----------*         /   )
   (    +- WHEEs ---------------------------------------+    )
   (   /              *---- WAAH ----*                 /     )
   (  +-----------------------------------------------+      )
   (   - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   )
   (                 WireOS                                  )
   (   - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -   )
   (       +------+    +------+    +------+    +------+      )
   Figure 1.  HypeAN Reference Model

      WiPEs: In spite of the fact that processing elements continue to
      greatly decrease in cost, we still expect that the processors
      embedded in smart wires will be relatively less powerful than
      those in active nodes.  Nonetheless, processing elements will
      support fully parallel and pipelined operation of the 1 bit
      payload of each WHEEP packet (discussed in the next section).

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   Furthermore, the WiPEs need to support line rate filtering of WHEEP
   packets, including the ability to filter on arbitrary, complex filter
   specifications of the payload.  Packet filters need to be able to
   snarf, copy, or turn WHEEP packets around to the opposite direction
   of the wire [2].

      WireOS: Since the WiPEs are relatively less powerful than
      conventional (hypo-) active node processors, the WireOS will be
      linearly distributed along the entire length of the wire.  This is
      necessary to support a fully functional, multi-threaded, multi-
      tasking, virtual-memory, window-GUI, multimedia operating system

      WHEE: WHEEs can similarly be distributed along the length of the
      wire.  P-WHEEs (permanent WHEEs as assigned by the grand exalted
      highness of the HYIANA) [RB00] will be distributed over the
      entire length of the wire, as in the case of the WireOS.  Other
      WHEEs can be instantiated and terminated as necessary, and thus
      flow along the wire with the WAAHs which they execute.

      WAAH:  WAAHs similarly are created and terminated as necessary,
      and thus flow along the wire in WAAH-windows along with the code
      they execute.

   The mobility of WHEEs and WAAHs is a key difference from conventional
   (hypo-)active networks; this feature has implications to potential
   PhD students that are staggering, indeed.

3.0  Packet Formats

   The goal is to provide an efficient mechanism whereby WAAHs and WHEEs
   can perform computation on the payload while traversing the
   communication medium.  The described solution includes defining an
   encapsulation protocol to carry the single bit/packet payload.

   WHEEP (Wire HyperActive EE Protocol) payloads are one-bit each, to
   allow maximum flexibility in the processing by WiPEs, and to
   eliminate arguments over the optimal payload sizes.  Bandwidth has
   become so cheap, that header overhead of 289:1 is not significant.
   Active nodes will fragment/reassemble conventional ANEP datagrams to
   WHEEP packets.

   The WHEEP packet payload consists of a ha-bit, ra-bit, or qu-
   bit.  The bit is encapsulated in the WHEEP, an ANEP frame (for
   compatibility with the existing Active Network architecture), a
   transport protocol frame and any appropriate lower layer framing.

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      | MAC | IP | UDP / TCP | ANEP | WHEEP | Payload |

      | SONET | ATM | IP | UDP / TCP | ANEP | WHEEP | Payload |

      | SONET | ATM | FR | IP | UDP / TCP | ANEP | WHEEP | Payload |

   The ANEP Type ID for WHEEP is 1010111110101101 (0xafad).

   The format of the WHEEP header is:

       0                   1                   2                   3
       0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
      |   Version     |    Type ID    |         Context ID            |
      |                                                               |
      |                                                               |
      |                                                               |
      |                         Serial Number                         |
      |                                                               |
      |                                                               |
      |                                                               |
      |                                                               |

      Version:  A 1 octet code in Intel(TM) byte order indicating the
      WHEEP version number.

      Type ID: A 1 octet code in Intel(TM) byte order indicating the
      type of bit in the payload with the following values:

         0        ha-bit
         1        ra-bit
         2        qu-bit
         3-255    Reserved to HYIANA for future use.

      Context ID: A 2 octet unique number, in Intel(TM) byte order, on
      the bit originator to identify the application that generated this
      bit.  Multiple bit generating applications could be running on the
      same source, unless it has an operating system from Redmond, WA.

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      Serial Number: A 64 octet unique sequence number, in Intel(TM)
      byte order, assigned by the source to identify this bit.  This
      field is able to enumerate the proposed number of hydrogen atoms
      in the universe, give or take a galaxy or two, or the IPv6 address
      space with room to spare [4].

      P: Payload, 1 bit, in Intel(TM) byte order.

4.0  Performance Metrics

   While all the usual conventional and active networking performance
   measures apply to the HypeAN environment, there are two new key
   metrics that need to be considered in performance studies:

      P/m:  This is the number of processing elements per linear meter
      of wire, and indicates the density of processing capability.

      BW-x-d-x-P: This is the bandwidth-x-delay-x-processor product, and
      refers to the product of the conventional bandwidth-x-delay
      product (in bits) and the total processing capability of the link
      (in floating point operations per second).  Thus the standard
      dimension of this unit is yotta-bitflops [5].

5.0  Security Considerations

   Security exposures are no worse than the product of general network
   security, active networks security, and (in the case of wireless
   HypeAN) mobile and wireless security issues.

   Securing the WHEEP payload will require single-bit cryptography to
   authenticate the sender of the ha-bit.  A WAAH can use one-bit
   encryption (OBE) to hide its ha-bit from others.

   Several hashing and encryption mechanisms have been developed to
   provide single-bit security.

5.1  Hash Techniques

   Zeroing (HaZe): Hash the ha-bit x using the function f(x)->0.
        Rumors claim that a collision has been found in HaZe, however
        the discoverers still seem to be lost.

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5.1  Hash Techniques

   Bit-flip: XOR the ha-bit with one (1).  Very secure when an
        attacker does not know the algorithm that is being used.

   Bit-leave: The bit-leave technique (BLT) is the equivalent of two
        rounds of the Bit-flip algorithm.

   One-time pad:  A random bit (ra-bit) is handed off (hop'ed) prior to
        sending a WHEEP packet.  The ra-bit that hop'ed is XORed with
        the ha-bit to encrypt it.  This is equivalent to performing a
        random number of rounds of the bit-flip algorithm.

   In the near future, quantum computing will provide better techniques
   for single-bit cryptography.  The ha-bit will be encrypted as a
   single qu-bit.  A preliminary implementation of the ha-qu
   transformation has been completed.  The one-bit encrypting WAAH that
   does qu-bit network one-bit encryption (OBE WAAH QNOBE) will be
   designed once the ha-qu transformation has been perfected.

6.0  Potential Applications

   One of the most promising applications of HypeAN results in a
   dramatic reduction in network latency.  By overlapping protocol
   processing with the transit of bits through the wire, the latency of
   processing at a node (router or switch) can be dramatically reduced.
   In fact, this eliminates one of the major concerns of active
   networking, which is the additional latency at node to do active
   processing [6].

   A number of useful network services can be envisioned, including
   congestion control and traffic shaping in the *middle* of a link, or
   multicast by replication on additional wavelengths in a fiber.  The
   provision of QoS and reliable multicast are problems that are clearly
   solved by HypeAN.

   Previous researchers have considered how to exploit the storage
   characteristics in high bandwidth-x-delay product links.  The
   expectation of the Interplanetary Internet provides us with the
   significant challenge of extremely high bandwidth-x-delay products.
   For example, a Web browser on Mars faces irritating delays for Earth-
   based content which is not locally cached.  HypeAN allows content to
   be arbitrarily cached in the wireless link, with WiPE packet filters
   dynamically creating storage loops of content along the communication
   channel, moving the loop boundary based on application demand.  Note
   that wireless HypeAN requires smart aether, which is beyond the scope
   of this document.

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   Security is a particular concern in mobile wireless networks, and it
   is important for these networks to be highly adaptive in routing and
   policy.  HypeAN provides new opportunities in this area, for example
   for the channel itself to detect eavesdropping, encrypt the packet
   payloads, and then decrypt once the channel has left the malicious

   Numerous other military and commercial applications certainly exist,
   which provide payoff to funding agencies far in excess of the
   establishment of a large HypeAN research program.

7.0 HYIANA Considerations

   The assignment of the P-WHEE status to a WHEE is performed by the

   The WHEEP header Version and Type ID are assigned by the HYIANA.

   New values are to be assigned with the consensus of the DARPA Active
   Networking Community or by the fiat of the program manager [WDM00].

8.0  Notice on Intellectual Property

   Intellictual Property concerns are not addressed in this document.

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9.0  References

    [Cal98]    K. Calvert, ed., "Architectural Framework for Active
              Networks", AN draft, AN Architecture Working Group, 1998.

    [CBZS98]   K. Calvert, S. Bhattacharjee, E. Zegura, and J.
              Sterbenz., "Directions in active networks", IEEE
              Communications Magazine, 36(10), October 1998.

    [RB00]     Robert Braden.

    [RFC-2119] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFC's to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", Internet Request For Comments No.
              2119, March 1977.

    [RFC-2434] T. Narten and H. Alvestrand, "Guidelines for Writing an
              IANA Considerations Section in RFCs", Internet Request For
              Comments No. 2434, October 1998.

    [RFC-2460] S. Deering and R. Hinden, "Internet Protocol, Version 6
              (IPv6) Specification," Internet Request for Comments No.
              2460, December 1998.

    [TW96]     D. L. Tennenhouse and D. J. Wetherall, "Towards an Active
              Network Architecture", ACM Computer Communication Review,
              April 1996.

    [WDM00]    W. Douglas Maughan.

10.0  Notes

      [1] We realized Friday afternoon 31 March that the deadline for
          this document was the next day.

      [2] Bidirectional fiber strands are beyond the scope of this

      [3] The potential requirement of a Win-32 API is beyond the scope
          of our comprehension.

      [4] Actually, the proper calculation, which we didn't have time to
          do, is to calculate the number of payload bits transmittable
          over a link for the remaining life of the universe.

      [5] Not to be confused with 'lotta-bitflips' which is the result
          of some of the payload encryption schemes described in Section

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      [6] The other major objection being "its different than we do it
          now in the Internet".

11.0  Authors' Addresses

   Matthew Condell                         Phone: +1 617 873 6203
   BBN Technologies                        Email:
   10 Moulton Street
   Cambridge, MA 02138

   Alden Jackson                           Phone: +1 617 873 2126
   BBN Technologies                        Email:
   10 Moulton Street
   Cambridge, MA 02138

   James Sterbenz                          Phone: +1 508 944 3067
   BBN Technologies                        Email:
   10 Moulton Street
   Cambridge, MA 02138

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