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Achieving efficient and fair bandwidth allocation while minimizing packet loss and bottleneck queue in high bandwidth-delay product networks has long been a daunting challenge. Existing end-to-end congestion control (e.g., TCP) and traditional congestion notification schemes (e.g., TCP+AQM/ECN) have significant limitations in achieving this goal. While the XCP protocol addresses this challenge, it requires multiple bits to encode the congestion-related information exchanged between routers and end-hosts. Unfortunately, there is no space in the IP header for these bits, and solving this problem involves a non-trivial and time-consuming standardization process. In this paper, we design and implement a simple, low-complexity protocol, called variable-structure congestion control protocol (VCP), that leverages only the existing two ECN bits for network congestion feedback, and yet achieves comparable performance to XCP, i.e., high utilization, negligible packet loss rate, low persistent queue length, and reasonable fairness. On the downside, VCP converges significantly slower to a fair allocation than XCP. We evaluate the performance of VCP using extensive ns2 simulations over a wide range of network scenarios and find that it significantly outperforms many recently-proposed TCP variants, such as HSTCP, FAST, CUBIC, etc. To gain insight into the behavior of VCP, we analyze a simplified fluid model and prove its global stability for the case of a single bottleneck shared by synchronous flows with identical round-trip times.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2008