Stanford Distributed Systems Seminar

12:45 PM, May 17, 2000
Room 150, McCullough Building

Supporting Ubiquitous Computing with Stateless Consoles and Computation Caches

Brian Schmidt
Stanford University

About the talk:

Rapid technological advances are leading us to an era in which we will have ubiquitous access to virtually unlimited computing resources. Harnessing the power of these resources requires our computing environments to become hassle-free and much easier to manage, as users cannot be concerned with machine specifics and management details. This talk describes two core concepts to help enable this transition.

First, we propose decoupling displays from their servers, i.e. using network-attached frame buffers to access active computations from any location. These simple consoles are cheap, stateless, low-level access devices that require no administration, support transparent user mobility, and isolate users from desktop failures. We demonstrate that an architecture based on this concept is feasible with modern technology, providing an interactive experience that is indistinguishable from the traditional desktop, even for highly interactive video games.

The next step is to manage the computing resources at the back end, and we place several requirements on this remote computational service. Users must have privacy, security, and isolation from each other, and they should be free to roam throughout the system. The system must be scalable, reliable, maintainable, available, extensible, and efficient. To meet these goals, we restructured the operating system using the concept of "compute capsules." Capsules provide a private, portable, persistent, customizable computing environment with active processes. They are self-contained, running computations, and the CPU/OS merely serves as a cache to hold them. We show how capsules help meet the demands of the future computing infrastructure by supporting persistent computations on a globally distributed collection of anonymous processors.

About the speaker:

Brian Schmidt is a graduating Ph.D. student in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University. He enjoys broad, multi-disciplinary systems research, particularly complete, end-to-end systems with practical applications. His interests span operating systems, networks, architecture, and compilers. Brian currently holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science from Emory University. He has also worked as a consultant for Sun Microsystems over the past six years.