Every Microsecond Counts: Tracking Fine-Grain Latencies With a Lossy Difference Aggregator

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Executive Summary

Many network applications have stringent end-to-end latency requirements, including VoIP and interactive video conferencing, automated trading, and high-performance computing - where even microsecond variations may be intolerable. The resulting fine-grain measurement demands cannot be met effectively by existing technologies, such as SNMP, NetFlow, or active probing. The authors propose instrumenting routers with a hash-based primitive that they call a Lossy Difference Aggregator (LDA) to measure latencies down to tens of microseconds and losses as infrequent as one in a million. Such measurement can be viewed abstractly as what they refer to as a coordinated streaming problem, which is fundamentally harder than standard streaming problems due to the need to coordinate values between nodes.

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