Evolving the Internet: Princeton to help develop PlanetLab network

June 24, 2003 9:59 a.m.

Princeton University is helping to develop an experimental global network of computers that is expected to become a testing ground for a future generation of the Internet.

The network, called PlanetLab, is designed to allow researchers to develop and test powerful new types of software that are not confined to a single computer but run on many computers at once, treating the global network, in a sense, as one large, widely distributed computer.

Once fully developed, such a network could yield many benefits, from faster downloads to more powerful search engines. A person watching an online video, for example, might receive it from many computers that work together to avoid congested parts of the Internet. Software that scans the entire Internet for malicious behavior could catch problems before they could be detected by a single computer at one particular site.

"If I can observe the behavior of the Internet from multiple vantage points, I can see what the traffic looks like, where the losses are and where the congestion is," said Larry Peterson, chair of Princeton's computer science department and one of the founders of PlanetLab.

The PlanetLab project began in March 2002 when researchers from several institutions met to discuss the idea. The founding group included David Culler of Intel and the University of California-Berkeley, Tom Anderson of the University of Washington and Peterson. Intel, the world's largest computer chip maker and a manufacturer of networking products, provided seed grants of equipment to set up an initial network of 100 computers, which are hosted by 60 international institutions that quickly joined the project. The technology firms HP and Google also are joining the project and will commit resources to it.

The full story is available in a news release.

Contact: Eric Quinones (609) 258-3601