Limited Slow-Start for TCP with Large Congestion Windows

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Last updated 2003-07-02
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This note describes an optional modification for TCP's slow-start for use with TCP connections with large congestion windows. For TCP connections that are able to use congestion windows of thousands (or tens of thousands) of MSS-sized segments (for MSS the sender's MAXIMUM SEGMENT SIZE), the current slow-start procedure can result in increasing the congestion window by thousands of segments in a single round-trip time. Such an increase can easily result in thousands of packets being dropped in one round-trip time. This is often counter- productive for the TCP flow itself, and is also hard on the rest of the traffic sharing the congested link. This note describes Limited Slow-Start as an optional mechanism for limiting the number of segments by which the congestion window is increased for one window of data during slow-start, in order to improve performance for TCP connections with large congestion windows.


Sally Floyd (

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