Networking Investigate

Latency Reducing TCP Modifications for Thin-Stream Interactive Applications

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Executive Summary

A wide range of Internet-based services that use reliable transport protocols display what the people call thin-stream properties. This means that the application sends data with such a low rate that the retransmission mechanisms of the transport protocol are not fully effective. In time-dependent scenarios, packet loss can be devastating for the service quality. In order to reduce application-layer latency when packets are lost, the authors have implemented modifications to the TCP retransmission mechanisms in the Linux kernel. They have also implemented a bundling mechanism that introduces redundancy in order to preempt the experience of packet loss. The enhancements are applied only if the stream is detected as thin. This is accomplished by defining thresholds for packet size and packets in flight.

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