Re: [aqm] Is bufferbloat a real problem?

KK <> Sat, 28 February 2015 02:10 UTC

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Subject: Re: [aqm] Is bufferbloat a real problem?
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This could also be done by not having to depend on Œloss¹ as the primary
source of feedback...
K. K. Ramakrishnan
Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering
University of California, Riverside
Rm. 332, Winston Chung Hall
Tel: (951) 827-2480

Web Page:

On 2/27/15, 6:00 PM, "David Collier-Brown" <> wrote:

>IMHO, removing latency is the aim of FQ. Once done, buffer sizes can be
>unbounded (save by price (;-))
>On 02/27/2015 01:52 PM, Curtis Villamizar wrote:
>> In message 
>> Daniel Havey writes:
>>> I know that this question is a bit ridiculous in this community.  Of
>>> course bufferbloat is a real problem.  However, it would be nice to
>>> formally address the question and I think this community is the right
>>> place to do so.
>>> Does anybody have a measurement study?  I have some stuff from the FCC
>>> Measuring Broadband in America studies, but, that doesn't address
>>> bufferbloat directly.
>>> Let me repeat for clarity.  I don't need to be convinced.  I need
>>> evidence that I can use to convince my committee.
>>> ...Daniel
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> aqm mailing list
>> Daniel,
>> You are convinced.  So am I but we need to temper the message to avoid
>> going too far in the opposite direction - too little buffer.
>> If you are not interested in the details, just skip to the last
>> paragraph.
>> Bufferbloat should in principle only be a problem for interactive
>> realtime traffic.  Interactive means two way or multiway.  This is
>> SIP, Skype, audio and video conferencing, etc.  In practice it is also
>> bad for TCP flows with short RTT and max window set small.
>> One way realtime (such as streaming audio and video) should be
>> unnafected by all but huge bufferbloat.  That is should be.  For
>> example, youtube video is carried over TCP and is typically either way
>> ahead of the playback or choppy (inadequate aggregate bandwidth or
>> marigninal and/or big drop with TCP stall).  It would be nice if
>> marginal aggregate bandwidth was dealt with by switching to a lower
>> bandwidth encoding, but too often this is not the case.  This doesn't
>> mean that some streaming formats don't manage to get this wrong and
>> end up delay sensitive.
>> TCP needs buffering to function correctly.  Huge bufferbloat is bad
>> for TCP, particularly for small transfers that never get out of TCP
>> slow start and for short RTT flows.  For long RTT flows too little
>> buffer causes problems.
>> [ aside: For example, if TCP starts with 4 segments at 1K segment
>> size, it will take 4 RTT to hit 64KB window, the typical max window
>> without TCP large window (TCPLW) option.  During that time, 60KB will
>> be sent.  After that 64KB will be sent each RTT.  With geographic RTT
>> is 70 msec (approximate US continental RTT due to finite speed of
>> light in fiber and fiber distance), 60 KB is sent in the first 280
>> msec and 64KB gets sent every 70 msec yielding 7 mb/s.  OTOH if there
>> is a server 2 msec RTT away (1 msec one way is 125mi = 200km), then
>> 60KB in first 8 msec and 256 Mb/s after that.  If there is 100 msec
>> buffer at a bottleneck, then this low RTT TCP flow will be slowed by a
>> factor of 50.  OTOH, if bottlenecks have a lot less than 1 RTT of
>> buffer, then the long TCP flows will get even further slowed. ]
>> One of the effects of some buffer, but not excessive, is short RTT
>> flows which given the no-TCPLW max window get slowed down while longer
>> RTT are less affected.  This becomes more fair wrt to transfer rates
>> among TCP flows.  The same holds true if TCPLW gets turned on in
>> commodity gadgets and the commonly deploed max window increases, but
>> the number change.
>> If the buffer grows a little and the deployed window sizes become the
>> limiting factor, then this is very light congestion with delay but
>> absolutely zero loss due to queue drops (not considering AQM for the
>> moment).
>> Some uses of TCP increase the window to work better over long RTT.  It
>> takes a bit longer to hit the max window but the rate once it has been
>> hit is greater.  Setting TCP window large on short RTT flows is
>> counterproductive since one or a small number of flows can cause a
>> bottleneck on a slow provider link (ie: 10-100 Mb/s range typical of
>> home use).  On a LAN RTT can be well under 1 msec on Ethernet and
>> highly variable on WiFi.  On WiFi larger window can contribute to some
>> real trouble.  So best that the default window be changed.
>> [ Note that the work on automatic sizing of tcp_sndbuf and scp_recvbuf
>> may create a tendency to saturate links as the window can go up to 2MB
>> with default parameters.  Has this hit consumer devices yet?  This
>> could be bad it this rolls out before widespread use of AQM. ]
>> When a small amount of loss occurs, such as one or much less than the
>> current window size, TCP cuts the current window size in half and
>> retransmits the packet for the window in flight (ignoring selective
>> acknowledgment extension aka SACK for the moment).
>> If the buffer is way too small, then a large amount of premature drop
>> occurs when the buffer limit is hit.  Lots of TCP flows slow down.
>> The long RTT flows slow down the most.  Some retransmission occurs
>> (which doesn't help congestion).  If there is a long period of drop
>> relative to a short RTT, then a entire window can be dropped and this
>> is terrible for TCP (slow start is initiated after delay based on an
>> estimate of RTT and RTT stdev, or 3 sec if RTT estimate is stale -
>> this is a TCP stall).  So with too little buffer some TCP flows get
>> hammered and stall.  TCP flows with long RTT tend to stall less but
>> are more sensitve to the frequency of drop events and can get
>> extremely slow due to successively cutting window in half and then
>> growing the window linearly rather than exponentially.
>> With tiny buffers really bad things tend to happen.  The rate of
>> retransmission can drive goodput (the amount of non-retransmit traffic
>> per time) can drop substantially.  Long RTT flows can become
>> hopelessly slow.  Stalls become more common.  In the worst case (which
>> has been observed in a ISP network during a tiny buffer experiment
>> about a decade ago, details in private email) TCP synchronization can
>> occur, and utilization and goodput drop dramatically.
>> A moderate amount of buffer is good for all TCP.  A large buffer is
>> good for long RTT TCP flows, particularly those that have increased
>> max window.  As mentioned before, any but a very small buffer is bad
>> for interactive real time applications.
>> Enter AQM.  A large buffer can be used but with a lower target delay
>> and some form of AQM to introduce a low rate of isolated drops as
>> needed to slow the senders.  Avoiding queue tail drop events where a
>> lot of drops occur over an interval lowers the amount of
>> retransmission and avoids stalls.  Long RTT flows tend to get
>> penalized the most.
>> Fairness is not great with a single queue and AQM but this is much
>> better than a single queue with either small or large buffer and tail
>> drop.  Fairness is greatly improved with some form of FQ or SFQ.
>> Ideally with FQ each flow would get its own queue.  In practice this
>> is not the case but the situation is greatly improved.  A real time
>> flow, which is inherently rate limited, would see minimal delay and no
>> loss.  A short RTT flow would see a moderate increase in delay and a
>> low level of loss (ie: typically much less than 1%) enough to slow it
>> down enough to avoid congestion.  a long RTT flow would see a moderate
>> increase in delay and no loss if still running slower than the small
>> RTT flows.  This does wonders for fairness and provides the best
>> possible service for each service type.
>> In practice, some FQ or SFQ queues have a mix of real time, low RTT
>> TCP, and high RTT TCP.  If any such queue is taking a smaller share
>> than other queues, delay is low and loss is low or zero.  If such a
>> queue is taking more than its share, then the situation is similar to
>> the single queue case.  Less flows end up in such a queue.  Cascaded
>> queues have been proposed and in some cases (no longer existing) have
>> been implemented.  In a cascaded SFQ scheme, the queues taking more
>> than their share are further subdivied.  Repeat the subdivision a few
>> times and you can end up with the large bandwidth contributors in
>> their own queue and getting a fair share of capacity.
>> So excuse the length of this but solving bufferbloat is *not* a silver
>> bullet.  Not understanding that point and just making buffers really
>> small could result in an even worse situation than we have now.
>> Curtis
>> ps - Some aspects of this may not reflect WG direction.  IMHO- the
>> down sides of just making buffers smaller and/or setting low delay
>> targets may not be getting enough (or any) attention in the WG.  Maybe
>> discussion wouldn't hurt.
>> _______________________________________________
>> aqm mailing list
>David Collier-Brown,         | Always do right. This will gratify
>System Programmer and Author | some people and astonish the rest
>           |                      -- Mark Twain
>aqm mailing list