To support various communications requirements imposed by different missions, interplanetary communication protocols need to be designed, validated, and evaluated carefully. Multi-mission Advanced Communications Hybrid Environment for Test and Evaluation (MACHETE), described in “Simulator of Space Communication Networks” (NPO-41373), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 29, No. 8 (August 2005), p. 44, combines various tools for simulation and performance analysis of space networks. The MACHETE environment supports orbital analysis, link budget analysis, communications network simulations, and hardware- in-the-loop testing. By building abstract behavioral models of network protocols, one can validate performance after identifying the appropriate metrics of interest. The innovators have extended the MACHETE model library to include a generic link-layer Virtual Channel (VC) model supporting quality-of-service (QoS) controls based on IP streams.
The main purpose of this generic Virtual Channel model addition was to interface fine-grain flow-based QoS (quality of service) between the network and MAC layers of the QualNet simulator, a commercial component of MACHETE. This software model adds the capability of mapping IP streams, based on header fields, to virtual channel numbers, allowing extended QoS handling at link layer. This feature further refines the QoS classification existing at the network layer.
QoS at the network layer (e.g. diffserv) supports few QoS classes, so data from one class will be aggregated together; differentiating between flows internal to a class/priority is not supported. By adding QoS classification capability between network and MAC layers through VC, one maps multiple VCs onto the same physical link. Users then specify different VC weights, and different queuing and scheduling policies at the link layer. This VC model supports system performance analysis of various virtual channel link-layer QoS queuing schemes independent of the network-layer QoS systems.