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Ninja and the Post-PC Era. David Culler U.C. Berkeley Mar 12, 1999. Natural Tides of Innovation. Innovation. ??. Integration. Personal Computer Workstation Server. Log R. Minicomputer. Mainframe. 2/99. Time.

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Ninja and the post pc era l.jpg

Ninja and the Post-PC Era

David Culler

U.C. Berkeley

Mar 12, 1999

Natural tides of innovation l.jpg
Natural Tides of Innovation




Personal Computer



Log R





Lucent visit

Historical perspective l.jpg
Historical Perspective

  • New eras of computing start when the previous era is so strong it is hard to imagine that things could ever be different

    • mainframe -> mini

    • mini -> workstation -> PC

    • PC -> ???

  • It is always smaller than what came before.

  • Most think of the new technology as “just a toy”

  • The new dominant use was almost completely absent before.

  • Technology spread increases

  • So where are we headed in the post-PC era?

Lucent visit

Away from the average device l.jpg
Away from the “average device”

  • Powerful, personal capabilities from specialized devices

    • small, highly mobile or embedded in the environment

  • Intelligence + immense storage and processing in the infrastructure

  • Everything connected


Laptops, Desktops

Lucent visit

Imagine l.jpg

  • Next, your PDA asks the infrastructure for a path out to your personal information space, where agents are processing your e-mail, v-mail, faxes, and pages

You have complete, secure, optimized access to local devices and your private resources


  • You walk into a room

Lucent visit

Structured architecture l.jpg

  • Bases build a

    • highly available

    • persistent state (safe)

    • databases, agents

    • “home” base per user

    • service programming environment

Wide-Area Path

  • Active Proxies

    • not packet routers

    • soft-state

    • well-connected

    • localization (any to any)

  • Units

    • sensors / actuators

    • PDAs / smartphones / PCs

    • heterogeneous

    • Minimal functionality: “Smart Clients”

Structured Architecture

Lucent visit

Service execution environment l.jpg
Service Execution Environment build a



  • parallel application framework on Bases

    • RMI++ hides complexity of scalability and availability

    • Dynamic customization and composition

  • apSpace is limited execution environment for AR

Service request

service threads



Managed RMI++





Lucent visit

Base execution environment l.jpg
Base Execution Environment build a

  • Ninja RMI

    • Sun RMI compatible serialization and thread management

    • ninja remote object

      + TCP or UDP or Multicast UDP (Active Msg soon)

      + Authenticated public key

  • iS-box

    • customizable service VM

  • Redirector

    = iSpace

Lucent visit

Is box l.jpg
iS-box build a

  • Loader Extends JVM to support services

    • LoadService (URL, name, args)

    • ListServices

    • GetService(name) -> svc obj

    • KillService

  • Trusted services loaded at startup

  • Security MGR interposes on method calls

    • loaded as a trusted service



Security MGR


Lucent visit

Push services into the infrastructure l.jpg
Push Services into the Infrastructure build a

  • GetService returns service object

  • Programming Model for Service Methods?









Security MGR


Generated by RMI


Lucent visit

Scalable ispace l.jpg

Multi-Space build a









System Area Network

Scalable iSpace

  • Multi-Space services across group of iS-boxes

  • List, Get, or Load Service from any

  • Get returns redirector stub


Multi-Space Loader

Multi-Space SVC

Security MGR


Lucent visit

Redirector stub l.jpg
Redirector Stub build a

  • Uses almost same RMI dynamic code generation

  • Produces RMI stub that manages load balancing and fail-over across iS-boxes in iSpace

  • Allows full spectrum of smart-client, front-end, flat cluster

Load Balance /

Fail-over Policy



Generated by RMI


Distributed Objects - not just remote

Lucent visit

Existing applications l.jpg
Existing Applications build a

  • Ninja "NOW Jukebox"

    • Harnesses Berkeley Network of Workstations

    • Plays real-time MPEG-3 audio served from 110+ CD's worth of music

  • Voice-enabled room control

    • Speech-to-text Operators control room services (camera, lights, microphone)

    • Eventual integration with GSM cell phones and PDA-based UI

  • Stock Trading Service

    • Accesses real-time stock data from Internet

    • Programmatic interface to buy/sell/trade stocks through online brokerage

  • NinjaFAX

    • Programmable remotely-accessed FAX machine service

    • Send/receive FAXes; authentication used for access control

  • Keiretsu: The Ninja Pager Service

    • Provides instant messaging service via Web, 1/2-way pagers, WorkPads, etc.

Lucent visit

Future applications l.jpg
Future Applications build a

  • Universal Inbox

    • e-mail, FAX, pager, voicemail accessible anywhere

  • Universal Remote

    • multiple-UI control of household/room devices

    • automatic UI generation

  • Ecash Mint

    • Authenticated service to act as digital secure cash mint

Lucent visit

Complements industry postpc efforts l.jpg
Complements industry PostPC efforts build a

  • Get maximum number of applications first

    • 1990 PC capality in handheld device

    • microkernel port of Unix or Windows

    • emulate vast API

  • Turn devices into appliances

  • Mobile extension of dedicated PC

    • take short excursion and synch

  • Success of the Palm Pilot with primitive OS and split application model is significant

    • it’s the approach, not the technical superiority

  • Need to develop foundations for next generation

Lucent visit

Seeds sewn in many projects l.jpg
Seeds sewn in many projects build a

  • Devices - Infopad, IRAM

  • Scalable Servers - NOW, Millennium

  • Storage - Tertiary Disk, Istore, Aetherstore

  • Sensors and Actuators - BSAC

  • Connectivity - BWRC

  • Transcoding Services - Wingman, Mediaboard

  • Platform Architecture - Ninja

  • Computing/Telephony Integration - Iceberg

  • Programming Enviornments and Tools

  • User interfaces - Notepals

Lucent visit

Building the bazaar l.jpg
Building the Bazaar build a

  • What we need is not just a new research project, but a new “computing culture”

    => Build a department-wide, universal wireless PDA infrastructure and a community to take it forward

  • Initial Seed Fall 98 with IBM

    • 150+ IBM workpads + lots of cradles + IR + ???

  • Initial community

    • Ninja, ICEBERG, MASH grad students

    • Senior UI Class (CS 160)

    • All interested 1st year CS grads (CS 252, 261, 262 projects)

    • Fill out based on interest, talent and availability

      => “ask a good question and get yours” seminar

Lucent visit

Fall 98 project excerpts l.jpg
Fall’98 Project Excerpts build a

  • E-Commerce and Security

    • Pay-Per-Use Services on the Palm Computing Platform (Mike Chen, Andrew Geweke)

    • Secure Email Infrastructure for PDAs (Hoon Kang, Rob von Behren)

    • SyncAnywhere - Secure Network HotSync (Mike Chen, Helen Wang)

  • Groupware

    • Kiretsu - Ninja Instant Messaging Service (Matt Welsh, Steve Gribble)

    • The MASH MediaPad - Shared Electronic Whiteboard for the PalmPilot (Yatin Chawathe)

    • NotePals - Lightweight Meeting Support Using PDAs (Richard Davis)

    • OSKI - Open Shared Kalendaring Infrastructure (Jason Hong, Brad Morrey, Mark Newman)

  • OS and Communications

    • PalmRouter - Networking Sporadically Connected Devices (Andras Ferencz, Robert Szewczyk)

  • Numerous Architecture Studies

  • Excellent UI Projects

    • Ink Chat, Nutrition/Excercise Tracker, Rendezvous - Meeting Scheduler

Lucent visit

Some lessons l.jpg
Some Lessons build a

  • Communication is enabling

    • low-power wireless needs to be like IP

  • Virtual Environment is important

    • Devices connect “into the infrastructure”

      • Network HotSync, groupware, centralized e-mail

        => Need lean, clean communication substrate

  • “User Service” is fundamental

    • not just profile and customization info

    • routing point for security

  • Much room for improvement in devices

    • trade BW for compute or storage

  • Development effort is the limiting factor

    • OSKI: 1 person for infrastructure, 2 for WorkPad

      => need complete distributed system debugging and simulation environment

Lucent visit

Momentum building l.jpg

Massive Cluster build a


Gigabit Ethernet






Future Devices

Cell Phones


Momentum Building

  • Deploy postPC infrastructure throughout building

  • Millennium provides large-scale testbed

  • Ninja architecture allows developers to “Push Services into the Infrastructure”

Lucent visit

Oceanic vision fluid software l.jpg
Oceanic Vision: fluid software build a

  • devices everywhere

  • backed by massive, fluid data storage and composible services

  • operating systems for vastly diverse devices

    • down to sensors and actuators

  • streaming data management

    • data derived from sensors and activities, not key entry

    • incremental query

  • automated negotiation architecture

  • derive organization from activities

    • social networking

    • computational economies

Lucent visit

Roles collaboration and environment l.jpg
Roles, Collaboration, and Environment build a

  • Bold, Rich PostPC Agenda Emerging

  • New balance of expertise and technology between industry and university

    • devices, components, networks, applications, users

  • New roles and relationships in collaboration

    • how do we share space, environment, culture, not just technology

  • Fundamentally new demands on the research space

    • ability to deploy smart spaces on a large scale

    • experimental wireless networking

    • new modes of human interaction

  • It’s not just what we build, but how we use it

Lucent visit