RACK: a time-based fast loss detection algorithm for TCP

Document Type Active Internet-Draft (tcpm WG)
Last updated 2017-03-13
Replaces draft-cheng-tcpm-rack
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TCP Maintenance Working Group                                   Y. Cheng
Internet-Draft                                               N. Cardwell
Intended status: Experimental                               N. Dukkipati 
Expires: September 14, 2017                                  Google, Inc
                                                          March 13, 2017

        RACK: a time-based fast loss detection algorithm for TCP


   This document presents a new TCP loss detection algorithm called RACK
   ("Recent ACKnowledgment").  RACK uses the notion of time, instead of
   packet or sequence counts, to detect losses, for modern TCP
   implementations that can support per-packet timestamps and the
   selective acknowledgment (SACK) option.  It is intended to replace
   the conventional DUPACK threshold approach and its variants, as well
   as other nonstandard approaches.

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Internet-Draft                    RACK                        March 2017

   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

1.  Introduction

   This document presents a new loss detection algorithm called RACK
   ("Recent ACKnowledgment").  RACK uses the notion of time instead of
   the conventional packet or sequence counting approaches for detecting
   losses.  RACK deems a packet lost if some packet sent sufficiently
   later has been delivered.  It does this by recording packet
   transmission times and inferring losses using cumulative
   acknowledgments or selective acknowledgment (SACK) TCP options.

   In the last couple of years we have been observing several
   increasingly common loss and reordering patterns in the Internet:

   1.  Lost retransmissions.  Traffic policers [POLICER16] and burst
       losses often cause retransmissions to be lost again, severely
       increasing TCP latency.

   2.  Tail drops.  Structured request-response traffic turns more
       losses into tail drops.  In such cases, TCP is application-
       limited, so it cannot send new data to probe losses and has to
       rely on retransmission timeouts (RTOs).

   3.  Reordering.  Link layer protocols (e.g., 802.11 block ACK) or
       routers' internal load-balancing can deliver TCP packets out of
       order.  The degree of such reordering is usually within the order
       of the path round trip time.

   Despite TCP stacks (e.g.  Linux) that implement many of the standard
   and proposed loss detection algorithms
   STREAM][TLP], we've found that together they do not perform well.
   The main reason is that many of them are based on the classic rule of
   counting duplicate acknowledgments [RFC5681].  They can either detect
   loss quickly or accurately, but not both, especially when the sender
   is application-limited or under reordering that is unpredictable.
   And under these conditions none of them can detect lost
   retransmissions well.

   Also, these algorithms, including RFCs, rarely address the
   interactions with other algorithms.  For example, FACK may consider a
   packet is lost while RFC3517 may not.  Implementing N algorithms
   while dealing with N^2 interactions is a daunting task and error-

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