Overview of Multicast Streaming
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Figure 16.2 Sending the same content to four receivers using multicast data delivery
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outgoing link a copy of the packet, without incurring any additional bandwidth overhead at the upstream links/routers or the media server. In other words, the cost to the service provider will not scale up linearly with the number of receivers in the system. In fact, the media server cost is xed, irrespective of the size of the user population. Depending on the pricing model, the network cost may still increase when there are more receivers because more bandwidth will be consumed in the downstream networks but nonetheless the total network bandwidth consumed will still be substantially lower than using the unicast delivery model. The current Internet, however, does not yet support native multicast due to a number of practical limitations. First, as Figure 16.2 illustrates routers/switches in the network must all have multicast capabilities to support end-to-end multicast data delivery. The early routers deployed in the Internet do not support native multicast, and the replacement of them by newer multicast-capable routers (which are only widely available in recent years) will likely take a long time. Second, in addition to having multicast-capable routers, we also need to con gure the routers to enable multicast, such as setting up appropriate multicast routing protocols, addressing allocation schemes, installing multicast-capable network monitoring systems, etc. This is a very dif cult issue to resolve in the Internet as the Internet is not owned by a single party and so co-operation from many Internet service providers will be needed. Therefore, this becomes an administrative and business issue rather than a technical issue. It is worth noting that the Internet2 [7 8] does have native multicast support although it is not yet available to the general public. Nevertheless it shows the feasibility of multicast data delivery in the global Internet once the administrative and business issues are resolved. Finally, to make use of network multicast, the application software (e.g., media server software and media client software) will need to be modi ed accordingly. This is less of an issue compared to enabling multicast in the network as many programming libraries (e.g., sockets) already have support for multicast data delivery.
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Scalable Continuous Media Streaming Systems
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16.2 Operational Issues
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To facilitate discussion of the multicast streaming algorithms to be covered in the subsequent chapters, we will rst review the interactions between the media server/client and the network. In the following we will use IP multicast [1 5] as an example to illustrate the operations of multicast application. First, the network is likely to comprise a number of routers, linking up the media server to the media clients as illustrated in Figure 16.2 for a small-scale network. The network routers will run two types of protocols, one or more control protocols to manage the routes for forwarding multicast data; and the IP protocol to transport the multicast data to the intended recipients. Over the years a number of multicast routing protocols have been developed, such as DVMRP , MOSPF , PIM-SM , CBT , and so on. It is beyond the scope of this book to cover these routing protocols and interested readers are referred to the literature for more details. We will simply assume that the network has been properly con gured to run one or more of the routing protocols, and thus be capable of forwarding multicast data packets from the sender to all the receivers. Second, similar to the concept of a channel in terrestrial TV broadcasting, a network multicast group address serves similar purposes. In IP multicast the address range from 184.108.40.206 to 220.127.116.11 is reserved for multicast data delivery (see Figure 16.3). Unlike an ordinary IP address, which identi es a unique network interface of a host in the Internet, an IP multicast group address is not bound to a speci c host or network interface. Instead, similar to a channel in terrestrial TV broadcasting, any multicast-capable receivers can tune into the channel and start receiving the multicast data by joining the multicast group. This join-group action is performed by the software application (e.g., by calling an appropriate API in the socket programming library) and then executed by the operating system by sending out an IGMP [13, 14] join-group request. The router, upon receiving the request, will set up the multicast
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