Internet Cache Protocol
The Internet Cache Protocol (ICP) is a protocol used for coordinating web caches. Its purpose is to find out the most appropriate location to retrieve a requested object from in the situation where multiple caches are in use at a single site. The goal is to use the caches as efficiently as possible, and to minimize the number of remote requests to the originating server.
Hierarchically, a queried cache can either be a parent or a sibling.
Parents usually sit closer to the internet connection than the child. If a child cache cannot find an object, the query usually will be sent to the parent cache, which will fetch, cache, and pass on the request. Siblings are caches of equal hierarchical status, whose purpose is to distribute the load amongst the siblings.
When a request comes into one cache in a cluster of siblings, ICP is used to query the siblings for the object being requested. If the sibling has the object, it will usually be transferred from there, instead of being queried from the original server. This is often called a "near miss"—the object was not found in the cache (a “miss”) but it was loaded from a nearby cache, instead of from a remote server.
The ICP protocol was designed to be lightweight in order to minimize round-trip time between caches. It is intended for unreliable but quick connections.
Web proxies that support ICP include:
- Cisco CacheEngine
- Cisco Content Engine
- Harvest project
- Traffic Server
- Mirror Image
- Netscape Proxy Server
- Novell BorderManager FastCache
HTCP, designed as a successor to ICP, attempts to handle various problems found in ICP deployments.
ICP message structure 
An ICP message consists of two sections:
Header: Header length is fixed to 20 octets (five 32-bit words).
Data: Data is of variable length, limited by the maximum ICP message size (including header) of 16,384 octets.
The ICP header consists of 8 fields, with 2 optional fields. The fifth and sixth field is optional (pink background in table) and appropriately named “options” and “option data”.
|Bit offset||Bits 0–7||8–15||16-31|
|128||Sender Host Addresss|
- Inter Cache Communication Protocols, Ingrid Melve
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