9th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design
and Implementation (NSDI '12)
April 25-27, 2012, San Jose, CA
Internet applications increasingly employ TCP not as a stream abstraction, but as a substrate for application-level transports, a use that converts TCP's in-order semantics from a convenience blessing to a performance curse. As Internet evolution makes TCP's use as a substrate likely to grow, we offer Minion, an architecture for backward-compatible out-of-order delivery atop TCP and TLS. Small OS API extensions allow applications to manage TCP's send buffer and to receive TCP segments out-of-order. Atop these extensions, Minion builds application-level protocols offering true unordered datagram delivery, within streams preserving strict wire-compatibility with unsecured or TLS-secured TCP connections. Minion's protocols can run on unmodified TCP stacks, but benefit incrementally when either endpoint is upgraded, for a backward-compatible deployment path. Experiments suggest that Minion can noticeably improve performance of applications such as conferencing, virtual private networking, and web browsing, while incurring minimal CPU or bandwidth costs.