TAQ: Enhancing Fairness and Performance Predictability in Small Packet Regimes

Jay Chen, Lakshmi Subramanian
New York University

Janardhan Iyengar
Franklin and Marshall College

Bryan Ford
Yale University

EuroSys, April 14-16, 2014, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


TCP congestion control algorithms implicitly assume that the per-flow throughput is at least a few packets per round trip time. Environments where this assumption does not hold, which we refer to as small packet regimes, are common in the contexts of wired and cellular networks in developing regions. In this paper we show that in small packet regimes TCP flows experience severe unfairness, high packet loss rates, and flow silences due to repetitive timeouts. We propose an approximate Markov model to describe TCP behavior in small packet regimes to characterize the TCP breakdown region that leads to repetitive timeout behavior. To enhance TCP performance in such regimes, we propose Timeout Aware Queuing (TAQ), a readily deployable in-network middlebox approach that uses a multi-level adaptive priority queuing algorithm to reduce the probability of timeouts, improve fairness and performance predictability. We demonstrate the effectiveness of TAQ across a spectrum of small packet regime network conditions using simulations, a prototype implementation, and testbed experiments.

Paper: PDF

This research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation under grants CNS-0916413 and CNS-0916678.