Document Charter PacketWay WG (pktway)
Title PacketWay
Last updated 1999-08-11
State Approved
WG State Concluded
IESG Responsible AD (None)
Charter Edit AD (None)
Send notices to (None)


Due to dramatic increases in circuits speed the traditional system
buses are limited in length (e.g., PCI is limited to 8") and cannot
provide the traditional system-wide support. Therefore, the system-wide
connectivity is provided by a high performance networks operating in
very close quarters, having the generic name System Area Networks

Many vendors today use such SANs inside computer platforms to connect
processors to IO devices, processors to memory, and processors to
processors. Most existing SANs are proprietary, and don't interoperate
with each other, not unsimilar to the early stages of LAN development.

In order to be able to interconnect Massively Parallel Processing
systems (MPPs) and to interconnect workstations into MPP-like clusters
there is a need to unify the SANs and to provide means for
interoperability among them.

PktWay is designed to provide a uniform interface for a wide variety of
SANs, such that the higher levels (such as IP) would be able to use
SANs in a uniform manner. An IP driver for PktWay would be able to use
PktWay between heterogeneous processors as if they were all on a single

PktWay would be designed to provide interoperability among closely
located heterogeneous processors at high speed. Pktway will sacrifice
scalability and some generality for high performance. Hence, PktWay
will supplement IP for high performance and for fine granularity of

802.1, the link level control protocol is above LANs, such as the
various Ethernets, FDDI, and Token Ring, at Level-2, and below IP, at

Similarly, PktWay will be above the various SANs (such as RACEway and
Paragon) and below IP.

PktWay will define separately:

        * End-to-End protocol (and packet format)

        * Router-to-Router protocol (and packet format)

        * Resource discovery and allocation

The members of the PktWay Working Group will design, specify, document,
propose, implement, and evaluate the above three protocols that define
the PktWay operation.

The members of the working group will also produce reference software
for PktWay.

Based on initial reactions it is expected that the working group will
include members from academia, government, and industry, covering the
software, hardware, and communication aspects of PktWay.


All the work that has been performed until now on PktWay is in the
public domain. The PktWay Working Group will only handle public domain
information. All the members of the PktWay Working Group will be 
notified that the working group cannot guard any trade secrets, nor 
limit the distribution of any proprietary information presented to it.