Re: Comparing an old flow snapshot with some packet size data

Greg Minshall <> Tue, 06 August 1996 20:05 UTC

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To: "Kent W. England" <>
Subject: Re: Comparing an old flow snapshot with some packet size data
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Mon, 05 Aug 1996 17:08:36 PDT." <>
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Date: Tue, 06 Aug 1996 12:53:51 -0700
From: Greg Minshall <>
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Having cogitated a bit...

> All in all, these three data sources (Claffy/Scharf, Doran, Spero) seem
> relatively consistent. An overwhelming amount of the flows in the Internet
> seem to be small file transfers, the TCP payload for this traffic is mostly
> <=512 bytes, when it could easily be <=1460 bytes. And slow start adds at
> least one extra RTT to each transfer that might be avoided if the payloads
> were 1460 instead of 512.

I think you are saying that if TCP sent 1460 bytes in the first [data] packet, 
then lots of transfers would only have one data packet, but that since it is 
using 512 bytes, transfers take 3 (say) data packets, so slow start kicks in 
and it takes 2 RTTs to transfer that data.

I think that is probably true, though if transfer sizes are, say, 3000 bytes 
(which you mentioned), then even with 1460, "slow start" imposes a 2.x RTT 
"penalty".  On the other hand, that "penalty" is there, of course, to keep the 
net alive.

> Would there be any improvement if hosts used path MTU discovery, or would it
> add up to about the same thing? I'm not sure whether you can do path MTU
> discovery at the same time you are starting a TCP session or whether, as is
> more likely, it is a separate process and uses an RTT or more before
> starting the TCP session.

(I guess i'm not totally sure what "constituency" you represent in this, in 
the sense of i.e., PPP users at the end of 28.8 links, or network providers 
trying to figure out how to provision, or corporate intXXnet builders, etc.  
For example, when you say "improvement", improvement for *whom*?)

You can do path MTU "at the same time" you are starting a TCP session.  *I* 
think it would help.

Systems are also free [encouraged! -- see
tes/rfc/files/rfc1191.txt] to "remember" previous path MTU values to various 
destinations to try to "optimize" the path MTU start up time; so, it would be 
much better if each of the web pages downloads for images from a given site 
didn't have to individually "learn" the path MTU, but could "share" that 
knowledge from the first download.  Unfortunately, this involves a bit of 
thinking and coding (neither of which i've done!), and so isn't totally