Computational fabrics are the next step for distributed computing.
A fabric has two basic components:
- node - a collection of interconnected processors, memory, and periperals. These can take the form of a common desktop computer, but may be any computational device.
- cell - a collection of tightly connected nodes
Cells that are tied together are said to be loosely coupled.
A fabric is fluid because new components in the form of nodes or cells may be added at any time. The fabric as a whole will be able to coordinate processing without any central cell.
Information appliances (terminals) will connect to the fabric.
Computational fabrics will have distributed data haven characteristics. (See freenet, gnutella, or eternity server for prototypical examples.) Some people, especially those associated with the Principia Cybernetica project, expect to see emergent intelligent behavior.