Overview#

Terminology for Constrained-Node Networks (RFC 7228) document provides a number of basic terms that have been useful in the standardization work for constrained-node networks.

Small devices with limited CPU, memory, and power resources, so-called "constrained devices" (often used as sensors/actuators, smart objects, or smart devices) can form a network, becoming "constrained nodes" in that network. Such a network may itself exhibit constraints, e.g., with unreliable or lossy channels, limited and unpredictable bandwidth, and a highly dynamic topology.

Constrained devices might be in charge of gathering information in diverse settings, including natural ecosystems, buildings, and factories, and sending the information to one or more server stations. They might also act on information, by performing some physical action, including displaying it. Constrained devices may work under severe resource constraints such as limited battery and computing power, little memory, and insufficient wireless bandwidth and ability to communicate; these constraints often exacerbate each other. Other entities on the network, e.g., a base station or controlling server, might have more computational and communication resources and could support the interaction between the constrained devices and applications in more traditional networks.

Today, diverse sizes of constrained devices with different resources and capabilities are becoming connected. Mobile personal gadgets, building-automation devices, cellular phones, machine-to-machine (M2M) devices, and other devices benefit from interacting with other "things" nearby or somewhere in the Internet. With this, the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes a reality, built up out of uniquely identifiable and addressable objects (things). Over the next decade, this could grow to large numbers FIFTY-BILLION of Internet-connected constrained devices, greatly increasing the Internet's size and scope.

The present document provides a number of basic terms that have been useful in the standardization work for constrained environments. The intention is not to exhaustively cover the field but to make sure a few core terms are used consistently between different groups cooperating in this space.

In this document, the term "byte" is used in its now customary sense as a synonym for "octet". Where sizes of semiconductor memory are given, the prefix "kibi" (1024) is combined with "byte" to "kibibyte", abbreviated "KiB", for 1024 bytes ISQ-13.

In computing, the term "power" is often used for the concept of "computing power" or "processing power", as in CPU performance. In this document, the term stands for electrical power unless explicitly stated otherwise. "Mains-powered" is used as a shorthand for being permanently connected to a stable electrical power grid.

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