Computing Now Exclusive Content — September 2010

News Archive

July 2012

Gig.U Project Aims for an Ultrafast US Internet

June 2012

Bringing Location and Navigation Technology Indoors

May 2012

Plans Under Way for Roaming between Cellular and Wi-Fi Networks

Encryption System Flaw Threatens Internet Security

April 2012

For Business Intelligence, the Trend Is Location, Location, Location

Corpus Linguistics Keep Up-to-Date with Language

March 2012

Are Tomorrow's Firewalls Finally Here Today?

February 2012

Spatial Humanities Brings History to Life

December 2011

Could Hackers Take Your Car for a Ride?

November 2011

What to Do about Supercookies?

October 2011

Lights, Camera, Virtual Moviemaking

September 2011

Revolutionizing Wall Street with News Analytics

August 2011

Growing Network-Encryption Use Puts Systems at Risk

New Project Could Promote Semantic Web

July 2011

FBI Employs New Botnet Eradication Tactics

Google and Twitter "Like" Social Indexing

June 2011

Computing Commodities Market in the Cloud

May 2011

Intel Chips Step up to 3D

Apple Programming Error Raises Privacy Concerns

Thunderbolt Promises Lightning Speed

April 2011

Industrial Control Systems Face More Security Challenges

Microsoft Effort Takes Down Massive Botnet

March 2011

IP Addresses Getting Security Upgrade

February 2011

Studios Agree on DRM Infrastructure

January 2011

New Web Protocol Promises to Reduce Browser Latency

To Be or NAT to Be?

December 2010

Intel Gets inside the Helmet

Tuning Body-to-Body Networks with RF Modeling

November 2010

New Wi-Fi Spec Simplifies Connectivity

Expanded Top-Level Domains Could Spur Internet Real Estate Boom

October 2010

New Weapon in War on Botnets

September 2010

Content-Centered Internet Architecture Gets a Boost

Gesturing Going Mainstream

August 2010

Is Context-Aware Computing Ready for the Limelight?

Flexible Routing in the Cloud

Signal Congestion Rejuvenates Interest in Cell Paging-Channel Protocol

July 2010

New Protocol Improves Interaction among Networked Devices and Applications

Security for Domain Name System Takes a Big Step Forward

The ROADM to Smarter Optical Networking

Distributed Cache Goes Mainstream

June 2010

New Application Protects Mobile-Phone Passwords

WiGig Alliance Reveals Ultrafast Wireless Specification

Cognitive Radio Adds Intelligence to Wireless Technology

May 2010

New Product Uses Light Connections in Blade Server

April 2010

Browser Fingerprints Threaten Privacy

New Animation Technique Uses Motion Frequencies to Shake Trees

March 2010

Researchers Take Promising Approach to Chemical Computing

Screen-Capture Programming: What You See is What You Script

Research Project Sends Data Wirelessly at High Speeds via Light

February 2010

Faster Testing for Complex Software Systems

IEEE 802.1Qbg/h to Simplify Data Center Virtual LAN Management

Distributed Data-Analysis Approach Gains Popularity

Twitter Tweak Helps Haiti Relief Effort

January 2010

2010 Rings in Some Y2K-like Problems

Infrastructure Sensors Improve Home Monitoring

Internet Search Takes a Semantic Turn

December 2009

Phase-Change Memory Technology Moves toward Mass Production

IBM Crowdsources Translation Software

Digital Ants Promise New Security Paradigm

November 2009

Program Uses Mobile Technology to Help with Crises

More Cores Keep Power Down

White-Space Networking Goes Live

Mobile Web 2.0 Experiences Growing Pains

October 2009

More Spectrum Sought for Body Sensor Networks

Optics for Universal I/O and Speed

High-Performance Computing Adds Virtualization to the Mix

ICANN Accountability Goes Multinational

RFID Tags Chat Their Way to Energy Efficiency

September 2009

Delay-Tolerant Networks in Your Pocket

Flash Cookies Stir Privacy Concerns

Addressing the Challenge of Cloud-Computing Interoperability

Ephemeralizing the Web

August 2009

Bluetooth Speeds Up

Grids Get Closer

DCN Gets Ready for Production

The Sims Meet Science

Sexy Space Threat Comes to Mobile Phones

July 2009

WiGig Alliance Makes Push for HD Specification

New Dilemnas, Same Principles:
Changing Landscape Requires IT Ethics to Go Mainstream

Synthetic DNS Stirs Controversy:
Why Breaking Is a Good Thing

New Approach Fights Microchip Piracy

Technique Makes Strong Encryption Easier to Use

New Adobe Flash Streams Internet Directly to TVs

June 2009

Aging Satellites Spark GPS Concerns

The Changing World of Outsourcing

North American CS Enrollment Rises for First Time in Seven Years

Materials Breakthrough Could Eliminate Bootups

April 2009

Trusted Computing Shapes Self-Encrypting Drives

March 2009

Google, Publishers to Try New Advertising Methods

Siftables Offer New Interaction Model for Serious Games

Hulu Boxed In by Media Conglomerates

February 2009

Chips on Verge of Reaching 32 nm Nodes

Hathaway to Lead Cybersecurity Review

A Match Made in Heaven: Gaming Enters the Cloud

January 2009

Government Support Could Spell Big Year for Open Source

25 Reasons For Better Programming

Web Guide Turns Playstation 3 Consoles into Supercomputing Cluster

Flagbearers for Technology: Contemporary Techniques Showcase US Artifact and European Treasures

December 2008

.Tel TLD Debuts As New Way to Network

Science Exchange

November 2008

The Future is Reconfigurable

Content-Centered Internet Architecture Gets a Boost

by George Lawton

Research to improve the underlying Internet architecture got a boost in August with a $7.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Named Data Networking (NDN) aims to enable direct access to network content by name, without reference to specific source and destination machines, as today's TCP/IP transport suite requires.

"NDN is the next step in architectural evolution to achieve the goal for delivering data in the most efficient, robust, and secure way," said Lixia Zhang, computer science professor at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and recipient of the IEEE's 2009 Internet Award for her contributions toward developing the Internet's architecture.

Zhang will lead the NDN project, which includes researchers from eight other universities. Additionally, Van Jacobson, a research fellow at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), will be the NDN chief architect. Jacobson launched PARC's content-centric networking (CCN) research, which is contributing early protocol specification and open source as a base for the NDN project.

A Conversation That Became Ubiquitous

Early Internet research focused on interconnecting a relatively small number of large computers, mainly for resource sharing. This focus led to the development of IP and a domain name system to translate an HTTP query into a call against a specific host machine. The combination of content identification with host location worked well for the conversational traffic that characterized early Internet applications.

But the use of the Internet has fundamentally shifted, said Jacobson, who wrote the original TCP/IP header compression and is well-recognized for his contributions to the current Internet’s technological foundations. Today's users are mostly interested in information retrieval and distribution, and the machines they use are ubiquitous and often mobile.

This shift has created a disconnect between the way the Internet is used and the way it's modeled. The disconnect is complicated by the emergence of special techniques, such as network address translators, to make many physical machines appear as one. These techniques have added to the programming overhead and complexity of data-intense applications and mobile computing.

NDN would resolve this disconnect by using data names, rather than IP addresses, as the central communication construct. Each piece of content can be encoded using public key cryptography (PKC). In the most basic case, NDN uses PKC only to authenticate each piece of content and confirm that it has been transmitted accurately and fully. In more advanced cases, applications can also use PKC to encrypt data so that it can be hidden from third parties.

Building trust directly into the infrastructure lets architects and developers rethink the way they develop applications and distribute content. Applications would have to concern themselves with only the data’s accuracy, rather than the path it follows.

Securing the data directly means applications can behave the same whether the data comes from a router or a cache somewhere in the network. This will become more important as the cost of memory continues drop at a faster rate than network bandwidth, Jacobson said. "We have always treated moving bits across a wire as fundamentally different than putting bits into and out of memory or on and off a disk. This architecture unifies storage and communications."

A Lighter, More Secure Load

NDN could operate as an IP complement or replacement in a networking stack.

Programmers using NDN will find it easier to write highly scalable applications, said Tarek Abdelzaher, computer science professor who leads the University of Illinois' participation in the project. The architecture reduces middleware requirements because the network and applications see the world the same way. For instance, Jacobson wrote a highly scalable Twitter clone on top of NDN in about 20 lines of code.

NDN will also improve scalability by making it easy for special routers to cache frequently requested content, thus pushing popular content out closer to users. Abdelzaher said that inherently publish/subscribe content-sharing applications, such as Twitter, could see a 10-fold reduction in the computer and networking resources required to achieve the same performance. Today, when a site becomes popular, it increases the traffic load on not only the server but also all the network connections between the server and the client. With NDN, hybrid router/caching appliances could reduce the load on the network backbone by automatically distributing popular content across the network.

Point-to-point applications, such as a voice chat client, wouldn't see the same kind of networking efficiencies, but they might be easier to write.

NDN also includes a more efficient data-repair algorithm. When a traditional IP network loses a packet, it must retransmit from the source, burdening all the routers and links along the networking path. NDN allows a packet to be retransmitted from the closest good copy. Jacobson said that this could help in wireless networks, where most of the loss occurs at the network’s edge.

Finally, security is built into NDN at the content level, which provides an implicit chain of trust in all communications. Any network is only as strong as its weakest link. Consequently, traditional IP security techniques had to protect each host with its large collection of software. NDN protects the data itself, regardless of whether any intervening hosts have been compromised.

Evolving the Name Space

NDN represents a new networking paradigm and requires significant research before it's widely adopted. Zhang said that getting the naming system right will be one of the biggest challenges. "Fortunately, we don't have to wait until we understand this name-space design completely before we get started," she said. "As long as the name space interpretation is not hardened into the infrastructure, we have the flexibility to evolve the name space in parallel with the effort of the infrastructure design and deployment, which was the strategy that worked for IP."

Jacobson expects network carriers, telcos, and cable companies to be early commercial adopters. In the long haul, he sees NDN changing the way data is shared across personal computing devices. Instead of transferring movies, songs, and calendar information to each new device we use, we can have our settings and content follow us. "Users won't have to manage the plumbing to get what they want," he said.
For more information, see For related code, see

George Lawton is a freelance journalist based in Guernevilla, California. Contact him via his website