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<p>Optical fiber has made it possible to build networks with link speeds of over a gigabit per second; however, these networks are pushing end-systems to their limits. For high-speed networks (100 Mbits per second and up), network throughput is typically limited by software overhead on the sending and receiving hosts. Minimizing this overhead improves application-level latency and throughput and reduces the number of cycles that applications lose to communication overhead. Several factors influence communication overhead: communication protocols, the application programming interface (API). and the network interface hardware architecture. The author describes how these factors influence communication performance and under what conditions hardware support on the network adapter can reduce overhead. He first describes the organization of a typical network interface and discusses performance considerations for interfaces to high-speed networks. He then discusses software optimizations that apply to simple network adapters and show how more powerful adapters can improve performance on high-speed networks.</p>
Peter A. Steenkiste, "A systematic approach to host interface design for high-speed networks", Computer, vol. 27, no. , pp. 47-57, March 1994, doi:10.1109/2.268886
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