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TCP/IP is the communication protocol of choice for many current and next generation server applications (Web services, e-commerce, storage, etc.). As a result, the performance of these applications can be heavily dependent on the efficient TCP/IP packet processing within the termination nodes. Motivated by this, our work presented in this paper focuses on analyzing the underlying architectural characteristics of TCP/IP packet processing component within server workloads. Our analysis and characterization methodology is based on in-depth measurement experiments of TCP/IP packet processing performance on Intel's state-of-the-art low-power Pentium® M microprocessor running the Microsoft Windows* Server 2003 operating system. We start by analyzing the impact of NIC features such as Large Segment Offload and the use of Jumbo frames on TCP/IP packet processing performance. We then show that the architectural characteristics of transmit-side processing (largely compute-bound) are significantly different than receive-side processing (mostly memory-bound). Finally we quantify the computational requirements for sending/receiving packets within commercial workloads (SPECweb99, TPC-C and TPC-W) and show that they can form a substantial component.
Date of Conference: 27 Oct. 2003