DCTCP: Efficient Packet Transport for the Commoditized Data Center

MSR-TR-2010-68 |

Cloud data centers host diverse applications, mixing in the same network a plethora of workflows that require small predictable latency with others requiring large sustained throughput. In this environment, today’s state-of-the-art TCP protocol falls short. We present measurements of a 6000 server production cluster and reveal network impairments, such as queue buildup, buffer pressure, and incast, that lead to high application latencies. Using these insights, propose a variant of TCP, DCTCP, for data center networks. DCTCP leverages Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) and a simple multibit feedback mechanism at the host. We evaluate DCTCP at 1 and 10Gbps speeds, through benchmark experiments and analysis. In the data center, operating with commodity, shallow buffered switches, DCTCP delivers the same or better throughput than TCP, while using 90% less buffer space. Unlike TCP, it also provides hight burst tolerance and low latency for short flows. While TCP’s limitations cause our developers to restrict the traffic they send today, using DCTCP enables the applications to handle 10X the current background traffic, without impacting foreground traffic. Further, a 10X increase in foreground traffic does not cause any timeouts, thus largely eliminating incast problems.