Congestion Control for High Bandwidth-Delay Product Networks. Dina Katabi (MIT), Mark Handley (ICSI), Charlie Rohrs (Tellabs)


Theory and experiments show that as the per-flow product of bandwidth and latency increases, TCP becomes inefficient and prone to instability, regardless of the queuing scheme. This failing becomes increasingly important as the Internet evolves to incorporate very high-bandwidth optical links and more large-delay satellite links.


To address this problem, we develop a novel approach to Internet congestion control that outperforms TCP in conventional environments, and remains efficient, fair, scalable, and stable as the bandwidth-delay product increases. This new eXplicit Control Protocol, XCP, generalizes the Explicit Congestion Notification proposal (ECN). In addition, XCP introduces the new concept of decoupling utilization control from fairness control. This allows a more flexible and analytically tractable protocol design and opens new avenues for service differentiation.


Using a control theory framework, we model XCP and demonstrate it is stable and efficient regardless of the link capacity, the round trip delay, and the number of sources. Extensive packet-level simulations show that XCP outperforms TCP in both conventional and high bandwidth-delay environments. Further, XCP achieves fair bandwidth allocation, high utilization, small standing queue size, and near-zero packet drops, with both steady and highly varying traffic. Additionally, the new protocol does not maintain any per-flow state in routers and requires few CPU cycles per packet, which makes it implementable in high-speed routers.

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