RFC 3449 (rfc3449) - Page 1 of 41

TCP Performance Implications of Network Path Asymmetry

Alternative Format: Original Text Document

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Network Working Group                                    H. Balakrishnan
Request for Comments: 3449                                       MIT LCS
BCP: 69                                                V. N. Padmanabhan
Category: Best Current Practice                       Microsoft Research
                                                            G. Fairhurst
                                                       M. Sooriyabandara
                                            University of Aberdeen, U.K.
                                                           December 2002

                     TCP Performance Implications
                       of Network Path Asymmetry

Status of this Memo

   This document specifies an Internet Best Current Practices for the
   Internet Community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2002).  All Rights Reserved.


   This document describes TCP performance problems that arise because
   of asymmetric effects.  These problems arise in several access
   networks, including bandwidth-asymmetric networks and packet radio
   subnetworks, for different underlying reasons.  However, the end
   result on TCP performance is the same in both cases: performance
   often degrades significantly because of imperfection and variability
   in the ACK feedback from the receiver to the sender.

   The document details several mitigations to these effects, which have
   either been proposed or evaluated in the literature, or are currently
   deployed in networks.  These solutions use a combination of local
   link-layer techniques, subnetwork, and end-to-end mechanisms,
   consisting of: (i) techniques to manage the channel used for the
   upstream bottleneck link carrying the ACKs, typically using header
   compression or reducing the frequency of TCP ACKs, (ii) techniques to
   handle this reduced ACK frequency to retain the TCP sender's
   acknowledgment-triggered self-clocking and (iii) techniques to
   schedule the data and ACK packets in the reverse direction to improve
   performance in the presence of two-way traffic.  Each technique is
   described, together with known issues, and recommendations for use.
   A summary of the recommendations is provided at the end of the

Balakrishnan et. al.     Best Current Practice

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