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Network Associates Receives Patent for Context Switching Technology

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Feb 13, 2003


Network Associates revealed Thursday it received U.S. Patent number 6,510,448 for its patent titled "System, Method And Computer Program Product For Increasing The Performance Of A Proxy Server." Network Associates revealed Thursday it received U.S. Patent number 6,510,448 for its patent titled 'System, Method And Computer Program Product For Increasing The Performance Of A Proxy Server.'

The new technology is designed to improve context switching for proxy servers and application-level gateways by using a "virtual machine" in the form of a self-contained operating environment that runs separately from the operating system, or other mechanism or module.

The newly minted patent covers multiple systems and methods that Network Associates will use to increase efficiencies in proxy server traffic.

With Network Associates context switching technology, when a process or thread is blocked, the proxy server can use this technology to switch to a different process or thread. (This is known as a context switch.) The frequent blocking of network read/write operations can result in frequent context switching, which ultimately reduces the input/output that occurs on a network.

Using this technology, a software virtual machine, or other mechanism or module, can increase the efficiency of context switching. For example, when applied to a networking environment, Network Associates claims it can improve the efficiency of handling input/output operations because of the improved control of switching between contexts.

In addition, virtual machines support restartable instructions on the proxy server to ensure that, when resumed, a previously blocked context will continue with the instruction that had previously been blocked or suspended.

Network Associates believes this results in increased efficiency and thus reduces the overhead expense and delays associated with traditional context switching by increasing the number of transactions per second that the proxy server can handle.

According to the solutions provider, context switching in process- and thread-based proxies helps reduce the cost associated with switching between contexts while increasing efficiencies in data input/output.

In the long term, Network Associates sees the technology in the granted patent as particularly useful for improving the performance of anti-virus software, firewalls, intrusion protection or detection, networking software, and other technologies where optimizing speed and minimizing resource demands are important.

It believes the newly granted patent is especially applicable in a variety of computer systems or networks, like firewall systems such as application-level gateways or proxy servers, an area of particular interest to Network Associates, as McAfee Security is a well-known division of the company.

"This newly granted patent is another example of this advanced technology that enables us to provide customers with comprehensive security and increased efficiency on their networks," said Ryan McGee, director of product marketing for McAfee Security at Network Associates.

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