I founded the Efficiency of Networked Systems Group when joining the UCLouvain in 2022 and the group, joined by a PhD student, Nikita Tyunyayev.
Internet was designed at a time where computers were monolithic devices transferring data over a network of routers and switches. This paradigm does not match the reality of today’s devices, which are composed of several elements of different nature (CPU cores, RAM, storage, NICs, GPU, etc). Our group will study the fundamental challenges for the Internet to catch up with this shift of paradigm. Much like atoms were later refined into a set of particles, the communications of hosts must be reconsidered to enable the next leap in the Internet evolution.
We will examine the newfound programmability of the network, i.e., P4 switches and Smart NICs, to enable sub-atomic communications over the Internet by delegating the intelligence out of the end “hosts”. The Smart NIC of a host may essentially act as a transparent multiplexer for the sub-devices of the host, bypassing unneeded CPU transfers, and saving time and energy. Smart switches will similarly act as coordinators of the streams through MAN. They will also lead the transfers towards the right particles among the increasingly disaggregated datacenter’s resources that are serving a provider’s content. To overcome ossification, they may expose information and negotiate a behavior for each particle’s streams to reach one possible servicing entity through the best paths. It will be possible without going back to the “ends”, and therefore enable particle-to-particle encryption as well as network efficiency.
The resulting low latency communication will enable future use cases such as cloud gaming and remote surgery, connecting nearby particles that are getting virtually closer thanks to 5G and fiber connectivity. In the long-term, the vision enforced by the group will bring back competitiveness to the Internet by standardizing the means for such next-generation sub-atomic communication.