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Michael Neufeld, Jeff Fifield, Christian Doerr, Anmol Sheth and Dirk Grunwald
"SoftMAC – Flexible Wireless Research Platform",
HotNets IV 2005

ResiliNets Keywords: MAC layer protocol, 802.11

Context: Hardware Implementation of MAC on KUAR

Abstract: "Discontent with the traditional network protocol stack architecture has been steadily increasing as new network technologies and applications demand a greater degree of flexibility and “end to end” information than a strictly layered structure permits. Software-defined radio (SDR) systems have prompted some rethinking of the network stack, and schemes have been presented that attempt to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by these flexible radio systems. However, evaluation of these schemes has largely taken place only in simulation or on small testbeds. In order to seriously evaluate the utility and efficacy of architectures and heuristics that take advantage of SDR systems it is essential to construct and test these systems “in the wild,” i.e. in environments outside of simulators and the laboratory. Unfortunately the SDR platforms currently available are not generally suitable for such deployments.We argue that network researchers should begin to design for software defined radio systems and move from simulation to prototypes. To this end, we have developed a software system that allows researchers to use inexpensive, commodity wireless networking cards to experiment with new MAC layer protocols. Individual radios still use the common 802.11a/b/g RF modulations, but by judicious control of the interface we are able to completely supplant the standard 802.11 MAC. On top of this radio subsystem, we have created a software architecture that permits researchers to easily construct and deploy experimental dynamic MAC layers on systems running Linux. We argue by example that such simple software defined radios provide robust, capable platforms for research. Using such inexpensive tools will allow wireless network research to address a number of the opportunities of software defined radio."

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