Re: Alternative title
Nothing really new here!
But then I have worked through the late 70's and early 80's developments in computing. It was the rise of cheap computers on the back of rapid advances in CPU performance that many functions that were handled by dedicated (and hence expensive) network adaptors (this is the real reason why the TLI library in Unix exists, it enabled an application to transfer data and hand off processing to the network adapter) were moved into the them lightly loaded workstation CPU. Similar design decisions lead to disc controller intelligence, graphics processing, modem processing ("soft modem") and other intelligent peripheral logic being moved into the CPU.
Subsequently we have seen the resurrection of dedicated graphics processors and 'intelligent' disk I/O controllers, but not the resurrection of dedicated and intelligent network processors; it seems the BBC and friends have discovered a need for one.
Interestingly, even with intelligent network protocol processors, performance was a big issue and any vendor looking seriously at high-speed networking always had to tweak the protocols so that they could be implemented in silicon - in fact protocols such as XTP, were developed that combined the functions of the network and transport layers; but these really upset the TCP/IP and protocol layering purists and so didn't garner much support... [So just another reason for not really bothering with IPv6.]