Re: [tsvwg] Comments on L4S drafts

Bob Briscoe <> Wed, 19 June 2019 01:15 UTC

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To: Luca Muscariello <>
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From: Bob Briscoe <>
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Subject: Re: [tsvwg] Comments on L4S drafts
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I'm still preparing a (long) reply to Jake's earlier (long) response. 
But I'll take time out to quickly clear this point up inline...

On 14/06/2019 21:10, Luca Muscariello wrote:
> On Fri, Jun 7, 2019 at 8:10 PM Bob Briscoe < 
> <>> wrote:
>      I'm afraid there are not the same pressures to cause rapid
>     roll-out at all, cos it's flakey now, jam tomorrow. (Actually
>     ECN-DualQ-SCE has a much greater problem - complete starvation of
>     SCE flows - but we'll come on to that in Q4.)
>     I want to say at this point, that I really appreciate all the
>     effort you've been putting in, trying to find common ground.
>     In trying to find a compromise, you've taken the fire that is
>     really aimed at the inadequacy of underlying SCE protocol - for
>     anything other than FQ. If the primary SCE proponents had
>     attempted to articulate a way to use SCE in a single queue or a
>     dual queue, as you have, that would have taken my fire.
>>     But regardless, the queue-building from classic ECN-capable endpoints that
>>     only get 1 congestion signal per RTT is what I understand as the main
>>     downside of the tradeoff if we try to use ECN-capability as the dualq
>>     classifier.  Does that match your understanding?
>     This is indeed a major concern of mine (not as major as the
>     starvation of SCE explained under Q4, but we'll come to that).
>     Fine-grained (DCTCP-like) and coarse-grained (Cubic-like)
>     congestion controls need to be isolated, but I don't see how,
>     unless their packets are tagged for separate queues. Without a
>     specific fine/coarse identifier, we're left with having to re-use
>     other identifiers:
>       * You've tried to use ECN vs Not-ECN. But that still lumps two
>         large incompatible groups (fine ECN and coarse ECN) together.
>       * The only alternative that would serve this purpose is the flow
>         identifier at layer-4, because it isolates everything from
>         everything else. FQ is where SCE started, and that seems to be
>         as far as it can go.
>     Should we burn the last unicorn for a capability needed on
>     "carrier-scale" boxes, but which requires FQ to work? Perhaps yes
>     if there was no alternative. But there is: L4S.
> I have a problem to understand why all traffic ends up to be 
> classified as either Cubic-like or DCTCP-like.
> If we know that this is not true today I fail to understand why this 
> should be the case in the future.
> It is also difficult to predict now how applications will change in 
> the future in terms of the traffic mix they'll generate.
> I feel like we'd be moving towards more customized transport services 
> with less predictable patterns.
> I do not see for instance much discussion about the presence of RTC 
> traffic and how the dualQ system behaves when the
> input traffic does not respond as expected by the 2-types of sources 
> assumed by dualQ.
I'm sorry for using "Cubic-like" and "DCTCP-like", but I was trying 
(obviously unsuccessfully) to be clearer than using 'Classic' and 

"Classic" means traffic driven by congestion controls designed to 
coexist in the same queue with Reno (TCP-friendly), which necessarily 
makes it unscalable, as explained below.

The definition of a scalable congestion control concerns the power b in 
the relationship between window, W and the fraction of congestion 
signals, p (ECN or drop) under stable conditions:
     W = k / p^b
where k is a constant (or in some cases a function of other parameters 
such as RTT).
     If b >= 1 the CC is scalable.
     If b < 1 it is not (i.e. Classic).

"Scalable" does not exclude RTC traffic. For instance the L4S variant of 
SCReAM that Ingemar just talked about is scalable ("DCTCP-like"), 
because it has b = 1.

I used "Cubic-like" 'cos there's more Cubic than Reno on the current 
Internet. Over Internet paths with typical BDP, Cubic is always in its 
Reno-friendly mode, and therefore also just as unscalable as Reno, with 
b = 1/2 (inversely proportional to the square-root). Even in its proper 
Cubic mode on high BDP paths, Cubic is still unscalable with b = 0.75.

As flow rate scales up, the increase-decrease sawteeth of unscalable CCs 
get very large and very infrequent, so the control becomes extremely 
slack during dynamics. Whereas the sawteeth of scalable CCs stay 
invariant and tiny at any scale, keeping control tight, queuing low and 
utilization high. See the example of Cubic & DCTCP at Slide 5 here:

Also, there's a useful plot of when Cubic switches to Reno mode on the 
last slide.

> If my application is using simulcast or multi-stream techniques I can 
> have several video streams in the same link,  that, as far as I 
> understand,
> will get significant latency in the classic queue.

You are talking as if you think that queuing delay is caused by the 
buffer. You haven't said what your RTC congestion control is (gcc 
perhaps?). Whatever, assuming it's TCP-friendly, even in a queue on its 
own, it will need to induce about 1 additional base RTT of queuing delay 
to maintain full utilization.

In the coupled dualQ AQM, the classic queue runs a state-of-the-art 
classic AQM (PI2 in our implementation) with a target delay of 15ms. 
With any less, your classic congestion controlled streams would 
under-utilize the link.

> Unless my app starts cheating by marking packets to get into the 
> priority queue.
There's two misconceptions here about the DualQ Coupled AQM that I need 
to correct.

1/ As above, if a classic CC can't build ~1 base RTT of queue in the 
classic buffer, it badly underutiizes. So if you 'cheat' by directing 
traffic from a queue-building CC into the low latency queue with a 
shallow ECN threshold, you'll just massively under-utilize the capacity.

2/ Even if it were a strict priority scheduler it wouldn't determine the 
scheduling under all normal traffic conditions. The coupling between the 
AQMs dominates the scheduler. I'll explain next...

> In both cases, i.e. my RTC app is cheating or not, I do not understand 
> how the parametrization of the dualQ scheduler
> can cope with traffic that behaves in a different way to what is 
> assumed while tuning parameters.
> For instance, in one instantiation of dualQ based on WRR the weights 
> are set to 1:16.  This has to necessarily
> change when RTC traffic is present. How?

The coupling simply applies congestion signals from the C queue across 
into the L queue, as if the C flows were L flows. So, the L flows leave 
sufficient space for however many C flows there are. Then, in all the 
gaps that the L traffic leaves, any work-conserving scheduler can be 
used to serve the C queue.

The WRR scheduler is only there in case of overload or unresponsive L 
traffic; to prevent the Classic queue starving.

> Is the assumption that a trusted marker is used as in typical diffserv 
> deployments
> or that a policer identifies and punishes cheating applications?
As explained, if a classic flow cheats, it will get v low throughput. So 
it has no incentive to cheat.

There's still the possibility of bugs/accidents/malice. The need for 
general Internet flows to be responsive to congestion is also vulnerable 
to bugs/accidents/malice, but it hasn't needed policing.

Nonetheless, in Low Latency DOCSIS, we have implemented a queue 
protection function that maintains a queuing score per flow. Then, any 
packets from high-scoring flows that would cause the queue to exceed a 
threshold delay, are redirected to the classic queue instead. For 
well-behaved flows the state that holds the score ages out between 
packets, so only ill-behaved flows hold flow-state long term.

Queue protection might not be needed, but it's as well to have it in 
case. It can be disabled.

> BTW I'd love to understand how dualQ is supposed to work under more 
> general traffic assumptions.
Coexistence with Reno is a general requirement for long-running Internet 
traffic. That's really all we depend on. That also covers RTC flows in 
the C queue that average to similar throughput as Reno but react more 

The L traffic can be similarly heterogeneous - part of the L4S 
experiment is to see how broad that will stretch to. It can certainly 
accommodate other lighter traffic like VoIP, DNS, flow startups, 
transactional, etc, etc.

BBR (v1) is a good example of something different that wasn't designed 
to coexist with Reno. It sort-of avoided too many problems by being 
primarily used for app-limited flows. It does its RTT probing on much 
longer timescales than typical sawtoothing congestion controls, running 
on a model of the link between times, so it doesn't fit the formulae above.

For BBRv2 we're promised that the non-ECN side of it will coexist with 
existing Internet traffic, at least above a certain loss level. Without 
having seen it I can't be sure, but I assume that implies it will fit 
the formulae above in some way.

PS. I believe all the above is explained in the three L4S Internet 
drafts, which we've taken a lot of trouble over. I don't really want to 
have to keep explaining it longhand in response to each email. So I'd 
prefer questions to be of the form "In section X of draft Y, I don't 
understand Z". Then I can devote my time to improving the drafts.

Alternatively, there's useful papers of various lengths on the L4S 
landing page at:



> Luca

Bob Briscoe