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Big Blue intros Net speed-up chip

Bundles together related TCP/IP packets

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IBM has developed a chip that bundles together related data packets as they're crossing the Internet.

The processor, the PowerNP, is aimed at switches and routers, and contains a tiny chunk of code - IBM calls it "bandwidth allocation technology" - that synchronises related packets.

The Net's TCP/IP protocol family is designed to break data down into small chunks, called 'packets', which are then sent out across the Internet and reassembled at their destination. The idea is that individual packets can travel independently along what is the best route between source and destination at any given moment. As long as the packets all get there, the order in which they arrive shouldn't matter.

Of course, now the Net is host to more time-sensitive data than email or transferring files, this approach isn't always the most effective. Packets of video and e-commerce transaction data need to be synchronised rather better than do packets containing basic Web pages.

IBM's chip recognises the connection between such order-sensitive packets and ensures they are sent out in the correct order. Less order-sensitive data can be held back until the video stream data has passed through.

The result, Big Blue's techies told Bloomberg, should be less choppy streamed video and audio as fewer packets go missing or turn up well out of sequence. ®

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