One of the Engineers Who Invented the Internet Wants to Build a Radical New Router

Larry Roberts, one of the people who invented the Internet, wants to make network routers faster, cheaper, and less power hungry

9 min read
Photo of Lawrence G. Roberts
Photo: Jonathan Sprague/Redux

The Internet is broken. I should know: I designed it. In 1967, I wrote the first plan for the ancestor of today’s Internet, the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, or ARPANET, and then led the team that designed and built it. The main idea was to share the available network infrastructure by sending data as small, independent packets, which, though they might arrive at different times, would still generally make it to their destinations. The small computers that directed the data traffic—I called them Interface Message Processors, or IMPs—evolved into today’s routers, and for a long time they’ve kept up with the Net’s phenomenal growth. Until now.

Today Internet traffic is rapidly expanding and also becoming more varied and complex. In particular, we’re seeing an explosion in voice and video applications. Millions regularly use Skype to place calls and go to YouTube to share videos. Services like Hulu and Netflix, which let users watch TV shows and movies on their computers, are growing ever more popular. Corporations are embracing videoconferencing and telephony systems based on the Internet Protocol, or IP. What’s more, people are now streaming content not only to their PCs but also to iPhones and BlackBerrys, media receivers like the Apple TV, and gaming consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation 3. Communication and entertainment are shifting to the Net.

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Nuclear Energy Brinkmanship in Ukraine

The Zaporizhzhia power plant is a strategically important prize, but war damage could be calamitous

6 min read
Barbed wire in the foreground frames a power plant in the distance across a wide river.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar, in the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Region, seen from across the Dnipro in Ukrainian-held Nikopol. Russian invaders have been shelling Nikopol from the nuclear power plant.

Dmytro Smolyenko/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images

A battle of nerves and steel is raging at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which Russia captured in March. Russian forces use the Zaporizhzhia plant as a safe haven for troops and equipment, including artillery that is shelling Ukrainian-held territory directly across the Dnipro River. Ukraine is launching a counteroffensive to retake occupied territory, including Zaporizhzhia. And, all the while, each blames the other as explosions rock the nuclear site.

According to a Reuters report today, Russia’s Defense Department may order the plant to shut down, citing shelling damage to the plant’s “back-up support systems.” Yesterday most plant workers were allegedly told not to come to work tomorrow, according to Ukranian intelligence, which warns the Russians may be planning a dangerous "provocation."

Keep Reading ↓Show less

Nvidia’s CTO on the Future of High-Performance Computing

The company’s Earth-2 supercomputer is taking on climate change

5 min read
portrait of Nvidia’s CTO, Michael Kagan on a gray background

Nvidia’s CTO Michael Kagan is an IEEE senior member.

Nvidia

In 2019 Michael Kagan was leading the development of accelerated networking technologies as chief technology officer at Mellanox Technologies, which he and eight colleagues had founded two decades earlier. Then in April 2020 Nvidia acquired the company for US $7 billion, and Kagan took over as CTO of that tech goliath—his dream job.

Nvidia is headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., but Kagan works out of the company’s office in Israel.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

Harnessing the Power of Innovation Intelligence

Through case studies and data visualizations, this webinar will show you how to leverage IP and scientific data analytics to identify emerging business opportunities

1 min read
Clarivate
Clarivate

Business and R&D leaders have to make consequential strategic decisions every day in a global marketplace that continues to get more interconnected and complex. Luckily, the job can be more manageable and efficient by leveraging IP and scientific data analytics. Register for this free webinar now!

Join us for the webinar, Harnessing the power of innovation intelligence, to hear Clarivate experts discuss how analyzing IP data, together with scientific content and industry-specific data, can provide organization-wide situational awareness and reveal valuable business insights.

Keep Reading ↓Show less