Network Working Group P. Balasubramanian
Internet-Draft Y. Huang
Intended status: Informational M. Olson
Expires: January 23, 2020 Microsoft
July 22, 2019

HyStart++: Modified Slow Start for TCP


This informational memo describes HyStart++, a simple modification to the slow start phase of TCP congestion control algorithms. HyStart++ combines the use of one variant of HyStart and Limited Slow Start (LSS) to prevent overshooting of the ideal sending rate value, while also mitigating poor performance which can result from false positives when HyStart is used alone. This memo also describes the details of the current implementation in the Windows operating system.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

[RFC0793] and [RFC5681] describe the slow start mechanism for TCP. The slow start algorithm is used when congestion window (cwnd) is less than the slow start threshold (ssthresh). During slow start, a TCP increments cwnd by at most SMSS bytes per ACK. In absence of packet loss signals, slow start effectively doubles the congestion window each round trip time.

While traditional TCP slow start can ramp up very quickly, it frequently overshoots the ideal sending rate and causes a lot of unnecessary packet drops. TCP has several mechanisms for loss recovery, but they are only effective for moderate loss. When these techniques are unable to recover lost packets, a last-resort retransmission timeout (RTO) is used to trigger packet recovery. In most operating systems, the minimum RTO is set to a large value (200 ms or 300ms) to prevent spurious timeouts. This results in a long idle time which drastically impairs flow completion times.

HyStart++ adds delay increase as a signal to exit slow start before any packet loss occurs. This is one of two algorithms specified in [HyStart]. After the HyStart delay algorithm finds an exit point, LSS is used for further congestion window increases until the first packet loss occurs.

This document describes HyStart++ as implemented in the Microsoft Windows operating system. HyStart++ is widely deployed on the public Internet. A precise documentation of running code enables follow-up IETF Experimental or Standards Track RFCs. It also enables other implementations and sharing of results for various workloads.

2. Terminology

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

3. HyStart++ Algorithm

3.1. Use of HyStart Delay Increase and Limited Slow Start

[HyStart] specifies two algorithms (a “Delay Increase” algorithm and an “Inter-Packet Arrival” algorithm) to be run in parallel to detect that the sending rate has reached capacity. In practice, the Inter-Packet Arrival algorithm does not perform well and is not able to detect congestion early, primarily due to ACK compression. The idea of the Delay Increase algorithm is to look for RTT spikes, which suggest that the bottleneck buffer is filling up.

After the HyStart “Delay Increase” algorithm triggers an exit from slow start, LSS (described in [RFC3742]) is used to increase Cwnd until the first packet loss occurs. LSS is used because the HyStart exit is often premature as a result of RTT fluctuations or transient queue buildup. LSS grows the cwnd fast but much slower than traditional slow start. LSS helps avoid massive packet losses and subsequent time spent in loss recovery or retransmission timeout.

3.2. Algorithm Details

A round is chosen to be approximately the Round-Trip Time (RTT). Round can be approximated using sequence numbers as follows:

At the start of each round during slow start:

For each arriving ACK in slow start, where N is the number of previously unacknowledged bytes acknowledged in the arriving ACK:

For each arriving ACK in LSS, where N is the number of previously unacknowledged bytes acknowledged in the arriving ACK:

CA_cwnd() denotes the cwnd that a congestion control algorithm would have increased to if congestion avoidance started instead of LSS. LSS grows cwnd very fast but for long-lived flows in high BDP networks, the congestion avoidance algorithm could increase cwnd much faster. For example, CUBIC congestion avoidance [RFC8312] in convex region can ramp up cwnd rapidly. Taking the max can help improve performance when exiting slow start prematurely.

HyStart++ ends when cwnd exceeds ssthresh or when congestion is observed.

3.3. Constant used and tuning

The Windows operating system implementation of HyStart++ uses the following constants:

An implementation MAY experiment with these constants and tune them for different network characteristics. Windows operating system implementation uses the same values for all connections.

An implementation MAY choose to use HyStart++ for all slow starts including the ones post a retransmission timeout, or a long idle period. The Windows operating system implementation uses HyStart++ only for the initial slow start and uses traditional slow start for subsequent ones. This is acceptable because subsequent slow starts will use the discovered ssthresh value to exit slow start.

4. Security Considerations

HyStart++ enhances slow start and inherits the general security considerations discussed in [RFC5681].

5. IANA Considerations

This document has no actions for IANA.

6. Acknowledgements

Neal Cardwell suggested the idea for using the maximum of cwnd value computed by LSS and congestion avoidance after exiting slow start.

7. References

7.1. Normative References

[RFC0793] Postel, J., "Transmission Control Protocol", STD 7, RFC 793, DOI 10.17487/RFC0793, September 1981.
[RFC2119] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997.
[RFC3742] Floyd, S., "Limited Slow-Start for TCP with Large Congestion Windows", RFC 3742, DOI 10.17487/RFC3742, March 2004.
[RFC5681] Allman, M., Paxson, V. and E. Blanton, "TCP Congestion Control", RFC 5681, DOI 10.17487/RFC5681, September 2009.

7.2. Informative References

[HyStart] Ha, S. and I. Ree, "Hybrid Slow Start for High-Bandwidth and Long-Distance Networks", DOI 10.1145/1851182.1851192, International Workshop on Protocols for Fast Long-Distance Networks, March 2010.
[RFC8312] Rhee, I., Xu, L., Ha, S., Zimmermann, A., Eggert, L. and R. Scheffenegger, "CUBIC for Fast Long-Distance Networks", RFC 8312, DOI 10.17487/RFC8312, February 2018.

Authors' Addresses

Praveen Balasubramanian Microsoft One Microsoft Way Redmond, WA 98052 USA Phone: +1 425 538 2782 EMail:
Yi Huang Microsoft Phone: +1 425 703 0447 EMail:
Matt Olson Microsoft Phone: +1 425 538 8598 EMail: