The Network Processing Forum last week introduced another in its series of interface specifications.The Message Layer Implementation Agreement defines how to exchange information between network processing elements inside a switch or router - network processors, coprocessors, search engines, cryptographic engines, and so forth. The format and types of information are spelled out in the agreement.With the rise of network processors and software that runs on them, the need for standard methods of communication between individual pieces has been critical. This way, network device makers can mix and match components from various suppliers to create their products. Theoretically, this should help to drive down costs and allow them to get you network products sooner.The Message Layer is defined as sitting at the boundary between hardware interfaces and software APIs. According to the Network Processing Forum, the spec defines a set of message fields and says how to compose those fields into a valid message.The group says the standard allows vendors to write network software without knowing details of the underlying hardware interfaces, and allows them to write software that will work across different hardware interfaces.Messages between network processing elements are sent \u201cin-band,\u201d while an \u201cout-of-band\u201d mechanism determines the meaning of the messages for both the sending and receiving elements.Details on the Message Layer Implementation Agreement are available on the forum\u2019s Web site at:https:\/\/www.npforum.org\/techinfo\/approved.shtmlEDITOR's NOTE: Due to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday we will be sending just one newsletter this week. Regular service will resume next week. We wish you and your family a happy Thanksgiving.