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Proteus: A Topology Malleable Network

Summary: We consider the idea of building "thin but malleable" networks: networks which may have much smaller total capacity than non-blocking ones (i.e., thin), but are able to move this capacity to where demand for it arises (i.e., malleable). This malleability comes from runtime reconfigurable optical devices, which we put together in such a way as to enable adjustments in the topology, and in the capacity of each link on the fly. Such networks hold promise for the future: the optical equipment uses significantly less power, and is capable of speeds beyond traditional copper networks. Moreover, such a malleable network is an alternative to the cumbersome approach of customizing applications to "fit" the network. Once the network is programmed to be malleable, applications can be thrown at it without worrying about placement locality.

Why topology malleability?

Consider the example in the figure below. Each edge on the cube is occupied by a flow that equals edge capacity. Then a new B-D flow arrives. In the cube topology, there is no way of accommodating this flow, so the network shape-shifts to the one shown further below. Now each flow uses only one edge of the network! Next, an F-G flow with twice the normal edge capacity starts (and there is no D-F flow anymore). The F-G edge capacity can be doubled at the expense of unused D-F and G-C.


US Patent Applications 2012000894(3, 4, 5): I am the lead inventor on all 3 patents filed for this work.


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Proteus: A Topology Malleable Data Center Network
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[ PDF] [ PPTX]