Deployable transport services for low-latency multimedia applications

McQuistin, Stephen (2019) Deployable transport services for low-latency multimedia applications. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Low-latency multimedia applications generate a growing and significant majority of all Internet traffic. These applications are characterised by tight bounds on end-to-end latency that typically range from tens to a few hundred milliseconds. Operating within these bounds is challenging, with the best-effort delivery service of the Internet giving rise to unreliable delivery with unpredictable latency. The way in which the upper layers of the protocol stack manage this unreliability and unpredictability can greatly impact the quality-of-experience that applications can provide.

In this thesis, I focus on the services and abstractions that the transport layer provides to applications. The delivery model provided by the transport layer can have a significant impact on the quality-of-experience that can be provided by the application. Reliability and order, for example, introduce delay while packet loss is detected and the lost data retransmitted. This enforces a particular trade-off between latency, loss, and application quality-of-experience, with reliability taking priority. This trade-off is not suitable for low-latency multimedia applications, which prefer predictable and bounded latency to strict reliability and order.

No widely-deployed transport protocol provides a delivery model that fully supports low-latency applications: UDP provides no reliability guarantees, while TCP enforces reliability. Implementing a protocol that does support these applications is difficult: ossification restricts protocols to appearing as UDP or TCP on-the-wire.

To meet both challenges -- of better supporting low-latency multimedia applications, and of deploying a new protocol within an ossified transport layer -- I propose TCP Hollywood, a protocol that maintains wire compatibility with TCP, while exposing the trade-off between reliability and delay such that applications can improve their quality-of-experience. I show that TCP Hollywood is deployable on the public Internet, and that it achieves its goal of improving support for low-latency multimedia applications. I conclude by evaluating the API changes that are required to support TCP Hollywood, distilling the protocol into the set of transport services that it provides.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Transport protocols, low-latency applications, multimedia applications.
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Computing Science
Supervisor's Name: Perkins, Dr. Colin
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Mr Stephen McQuistin
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-74348
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2019 15:08
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2019 10:31
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.74348
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