Saturday, 03 December 2011

Buffer Bloat and Network Latency/Performance

Slashdot has coverage[1] of an article from ACM Queue [2] that talks about buffers at the network level and its impact on latency and overall network performance/throughput. It makes for very compelling reading on the state of affairs and suboptimal settings at different points in the network and the overall impact on both latency and throughput within the network. There are lots of interesting details in the article and it's a good read.

Here's a blurb from the ACM Queue article:

Today's networks are suffering from unnecessary latency and poor system performance. The culprit is bufferbloat, the existence of excessively large and frequently full buffers inside the network. Large buffers have been inserted all over the Internet without sufficient thought or testing. They damage or defeat the fundamental congestion-avoidance algorithms of the Internet's most common transport protocol. Long delays from bufferbloat are frequently attributed incorrectly to network congestion, and this misinterpretation of the problem leads to the wrong solutions being proposed.

Here's the quote referenced by Slashdot:

"makes the case that the Internet is in danger of collapse due to 'bufferbloat,' 'the existence of excessively large and frequently full buffers inside the network.' Part of the blame is due to overbuffering; in an effort to protect ourselves we make things worse. But the problem runs deeper than that. Gettys' solution is AQM (active queue management) which is not deployed as widely as it should be. 'We are flying on an Internet airplane in which we are constantly swapping the wings, the engines, and the fuselage, with most of the cockpit instruments removed but only a few new instruments reinstalled. It crashed before; will it crash again?'"

There's also a whole website/project[3] dedicated to the effort, it appears.


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