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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Intel sees big changes to the net
Networking equipment, BBC
The net could face a difficult future
The internet must be changed to help it cope with what the future holds for it, according to chip maker Intel.

The US company's chief technology officer, Pat Gelsinger, says new uses and millions more users could stretch the net to breaking point.

In a keynote speech at an Intel conference, he said building a new network on top of the old would end many of the problems plaguing the net.

The overlay would avoid virus attacks and cope with traffic surges, he said.

Novel net

"We're running up on some architectural limitations," the Intel official told delegates.

The basic technologies underlying the internet were developed more than 30 years ago and, said Mr Gelsinger, were never meant to cope with the number of users and amount of data traffic seen on the net today.

As millions more net users join from developing nations, the net could begin to buckle under the strain, he said.

Pat Gelsinger, Intel
If the net grows to 100 billion devices connected to it, our goal is to have a piece of Intel inside in every one of those hundred billion
Pat Gelsinger, Intel
To help the net cope, Mr Gelsinger proposed creating a better internet on top of the old one.

This smarter overlay would take a much more active part in watching what was happening online and make changes to help it cope with potential problems.

The future smarter net envisioned by Mr Gelsinger would spot and stop worm outbreaks before they caused widespread disruption and route traffic more intelligently to cope with the peaks of troughs of data.

Such a network would also be optimised for the web services that many experts believe will start to take hold in coming years.

Web services tie together trading partners in close relationships and rely on a reliable, secure infrastructure to run.

Lab network

Mr Gelsinger said a prototype for this new type of internet already existed in the form of the Planet Lab project.

This network, funded by Intel, is made up of 429 network nodes in 181 sites that connects 150 universities and corporate research labs to each other.

Organisations using Planet Lab include Princeton, the University of Cambridge, Hewlett-Packard and AT&T.

Mr Gelsinger said Intel wanted its hardware to be at the heart of this overlay system.

"If the net grows to 100 billion devices connected to it, our goal is to have a piece of Intel inside in every one of those hundred billion," he said.

Mr Gelsinger was speaking at the Autumn Intel Developer Forum that was held in San Francisco from 7-9 September.

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