Curbing Timeouts For TCP-Incast In Data Centers Via A Cross-Layer Faster Recovery Mechanism

Ahmed M Abdelmoniem The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Brahim Bensaou The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong


We first study, at a microscopic level, the effects of various types of packet losses on TCP performance in a small data center. Then based on the findings we propose a simple recovery mechanism to combat the drawbacks of the long retransmission timeout. We emphasize through our empirical study that packet losses that occur at the tail of short-lived flows and/or bursty losses that span a large fraction of the congestion window are frequent in data center networks; and, in most cases, especially for short-lived flows, they result in a loss recovery that incurs waiting for a long retransmission timeout (RTO). The negative effect of frequent RTOs on the FCT is dramatic, yet recovery via RTO is merely a symptom of the pathological design of TCP's minimum RTO mechanism (set by default to the Internet scale). We propose the so-called Timely Retransmitted ACKs (T-RACKs), a very simple recovery mechanism for data centers, implemented as a shim layer between the virtual machines layer and the end-host NIC, to bridge the gap between TCP's huge RTO and the actual round trip times experienced in the data center. Compared to alternative solutions such as DCTCP, our TRACKS has the virtue of not requiring any modification to TCP, which makes it readily deployable in virtualized multi-tenant public data centers. Experimental results show considerable improvements in the FCT distribution.

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