Revisiting the performance of short TCP transfers

Hafsaoui, Aymen; Collange, Denis; Urvoy-Keller, Guillaume
Research report RR-09-233, January 15th, 2009

Performance of short TCP transfers, e.g., Web browsing, has a direct impact on the way users perceive the health of their Internet access. It is a common belief that TCP performs better with large than with short transfers, as the latters are more likely to time-out and their duration is dominated by the RTT. In this paper, we revisit the performance of short TCP transfers. We highlight the interplay between TCP and the application on top. We show that while losses can have a detrimental impact on short TCP transfers, the application significantly affects the transfer time of almost all short - and even long - flows in a variety of way. Indeed, the application can induce extremely large tear-down times and it can also slow the rate of actual TCP transfers or effect the ability of TCP to recover using Fast Retransmit/Fast Recovery. We illustrate our findings using several traces from realistic networks including DSL, wireless hotspot and a research lab traffic.

Digital Security
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