Chapter 25 ½ALOHA Packet Broadcasting: A Retrospect 419
degradation of the random access (F1) channel. Thus, an integral part of the F2 channel multiplexing is the priority queueing mechanism maintained by the MENEHUNE, as shown in Fig. 2. Whenever a transmission is completed on the F2 channel the ACK queue is checked, and if not empty the ACK at the head of the queue is sent, Only when the ACIC queue is empty is the data packet queue checked for waiting packets. This guarantees that at most one complete data packet plus any previously queued ACK's will be sent ahead of an ACK just placed on the queue. (Because the average rate of successful arrivals on the F1 channel is limited to one-sixth the rate of F2 transmissions by the random access technique, the number of previously queued ACK's will he zero most of the time.)
Fairness. A second problem is the possible hogging of the F2 channel by one or a few users. This problem is eliminated by the queueing discipline used for the data packet queue. Only one packet per user is allowed on the queue at any time, and the queue is serviced on a first-come-first-served (FIFO) basis. The prevention of more than one packet per user on the queue is handled in conjunction with user flow control, discussed below.
Turnaround Delay. A delay function is used by the MENEHUNE to count off the time required by half-duplex user nodes to switch from a transmit to a receive state. The actual time is determined by the equipment type-the original off-the-shelf equipment required 100 milliseconds due to its use of mechanical relays; approximately 10 milliseconds is counted off for newer equipment now in use.
Repeater Scheduling. The addition of repeaters to the system introduces a number of new problems into the F2 channel, both because of radio range overlap and the nature of the repeaters themselves. The latter are store-and-forward devices; a packet
which is to be repeated is first received and stored in its entirety, then transmitted on the same frequency on which it was received (preventing reception of a new packet during this time). In order to prevent the loss of a second packet destined to the same repeater, the MENEHUNE must therefore appropriately schedule the packets in its F2 channel queues.
For efficient scheduling (i.e., to maximize channel utilization), the MENEHUNE must know the repeater routing paths for each user node. This function could thus become quite complicated or even not achievable, depending on the degree of dynamic routing used. Because of the small percentage of traffic currently handled by repeaters in the present ALOHANET, a very simple brute force method is used: whenever a packet is sent which is forwarded by one or more repeaters, the MENEHUNE counts off sufficient time for it to be repeated once before beginning a new transmission to any node (knowledge of which packets are to be repeated is available from the user address, discussed below). This results in wasted channel capacity, but is not significant due to the capacity available in the system at present.
Three factors having an important impact on the system are the use of variable or fixed-length packets, the way packet length or the number of data bytes is indicated, and the maximum packet length allowed. The choices made must take into account the different traffic characteristics generated by line-oriented and character-oriented user-computer interactions.
Line Transmissions. Fixed-length packets were used in the initial system to simplify the design and construction of system hardware. The data packet length for both channels was chosen to allow up to 80 data bytes (640 bits), based on the user delays introduced by the 9600 bps channel data rates, the line length of the terminals in the system, and the line-oriented characteristics of the IBM 360/65 used as the central time-sharing system. An end-of-line (EOL) indicator consisting of eight zero bits was used within the packet to identify the end of actual data, where the latter was restricted to 7-bit ASCII with the eighth (parity) bit set to one. Since it was anticipated that many of the lines typed by users would be less than 40 characters, a second packet type was also defined which contained a 40-byte data field (a "Half-Packet"). This last step proved to be a mistake-the half-packet logic at each end of the link was a significant source of both hardware and software bugs.
The packet formats have since been changed to allow the use of variable-length
packets with newer user nodes, An 8-bit count field is used in the packet
header to indicate the number of 8-bit data bytes in the packet, with the
data parity word immediately following the last data byte. In addition
to eliminating the wasted channel capacity of the fixed-length packets,
this also removes
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