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Embedded Systems November 2000 Vol13_12

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JOHN CANOSA Networl< Protocols for the Home With always-on high-bandwidth Internet connections comes the possibility for multiple devices within the home to share this resource. And, of course, they'll also be doing a lot of internal communication over home-area networks. e have all become very comfortable with networks. Local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs) have become ubiquitous. Originally, only the "big iron" computing facilities had networking capability. But the net- work hierarchy has been rapidly moving lower in the food chain towards smaller and more personal devices. These days, home area networks (HANs) and personal area networks (PANs) are join- ing their larger brethren as ever-present communications channels. The current impetus for the home network is that many consumers have more than one PC and would like to share data and peripherals. Also, as high- speed, always-on Internet connections become more available, this pipe is likely to be shared as well. In fact, the estimated number of multi-PC households is at 15 million and is growing at a 30% annual rate-faster than the growth rate of single PC households (Source: Jupiter Communications). Several contenders are vying for the consumer dollars in the home networking area. This article looks at the contending technologies in the home networking arena, focusing on connectivity to the Internet. It also examines the multimedia and imaging market, since this is the area likely to be most affected by the expansion of home networking. Embedded Systems Programming NOVEMBER 2000 63

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