Research on Multicast Services

Multicasting is the ability to distribute network data in an efficient fashion so that it is distributed to the intended destinations without redundancy. Multicasting protocols have enabled exciting multimedia applications where users are able to join teleconferences in which audio, video, and shared workspace information is distributed to all the participants in a parallel fashion. Our research focuses on the usability of multicast conferencing tools and the design and evaluation of multimedia multicast services.

Multicast communication, in which the same message is delivered from a source node to an arbitrary number of destination nodes, has now been recognized as a very desirable service for emerging high-speed networks. Historically, commercial multicomputers have supported only single-destination, or unicast, message passing. Since multicast communication utilizes network resources more efficiently, it is finding increasing demand in many parallel data-intensive applications, such as audio- and video-conferencing, distance lecturing, and computer supported cooperative work (CSCW) applications.

Multicast services can potentially offer improved performance, increased functionality, and simplified programming. In order to realize these benefits, the following projects are being carried out in the QoS Networking Laboratory:

1. Design, analyze, test, simulate and prototype multicast routing protocols for multicomputer networks. Our earlier investigations in this area have concerned primarily Quality-of-Service (QoS) routing algorithms, for both unicast and multicast. We intend to extend our work to enhance their scalability and to design necessary protocols and language primitives.

2. Performance study of multimedia applications, such as  real-time distant lecturing and video-conferencing, over multicast-capable network. A bunch of such applications as well as multicast routing support (mrouted) have been developed for different kernels (e.g., Linux kernel). Many of these tools, such as vat and vic, are also the standard applications currently running over the Internet Multicast Backbone (MBone). We plan to use these tools to test the efficiency of multicast services. 

Last updated 8/20/99