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Subject[net-next PATCH v4 1/3] net: TCP thin-stream detection
Major changes: Added thin-stream info in new file:

Signed-off-by: Andreas Petlund <>
Documentation/networking/tcp-thin.txt | 47 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
include/net/tcp.h | 7 +++++
2 files changed, 54 insertions(+), 0 deletions(-)
create mode 100644 Documentation/networking/tcp-thin.txt

diff --git a/Documentation/networking/tcp-thin.txt b/Documentation/networking/tcp-thin.txt
new file mode 100644
index 0000000..151e229
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/networking/tcp-thin.txt
@@ -0,0 +1,47 @@
+Thin-streams and TCP
+A wide range of Internet-based services that use reliable transport
+protocols display what we call thin-stream properties. This means
+that the application sends data with such a low rate that the
+retransmission mechanisms of the transport protocol are not fully
+effective. In time-dependent scenarios (like online games, control
+systems, stock trading etc.) where the user experience depends
+on the data delivery latency, packet loss can be devastating for
+the service quality. Extreme latencies are caused by TCP's
+dependency on the arrival of new data from the application to trigger
+retransmissions effectively through fast retransmit instead of
+waiting for long timeouts.
+After analysing a large number of time-dependent interactive
+applications, we have seen that they often produce thin streams
+and also stay with this traffic pattern throughout its entire
+lifespan. The combination of time-dependency and the fact that the
+streams provoke high latencies when using TCP is unfortunate.
+In order to reduce application-layer latency when packets are lost,
+a set of mechanisms has been made, which address these latency issues
+for thin streams. In short, if the kernel detects a thin stream,
+the retransmission mechanisms are modified in the following manner:
+1) If the stream is thin, fast retransmit on the first dupACK.
+2) If the stream is thin, do not apply exponential backoff.
+These enhancements are applied only if the stream is detected as
+thin. This is accomplished by defining a threshold for the number
+of packets in flight. If there are less than 4 packets in flight,
+fast retransmissions can not be triggered, and the stream is prone
+to experience high retransmission latencies.
+Since these mechanisms are targeted at time-dependent applications,
+they must be specifically activated by the application using the
+tcp_thin_linear_timeouts and tcp_thin_dupack sysctls. Both
+modifications are turned off by default.
+More information on the modifications, as well as a wide range of
+experimental data can be found here:
+"Improving latency for interactive, thin-stream applications over
+reliable transport"
diff --git a/include/net/tcp.h b/include/net/tcp.h
index 87d164b..e5e2056 100644
--- a/include/net/tcp.h
+++ b/include/net/tcp.h
@@ -1386,6 +1386,13 @@ static inline void tcp_highest_sack_combine(struct sock *sk,
tcp_sk(sk)->highest_sack = new;

+/* Determines whether this is a thin stream (which may suffer from
+ * increased latency). Used to trigger latency-reducing mechanisms.*/
+static inline unsigned int tcp_stream_is_thin(struct tcp_sock *tp)
+ return tp->packets_out < 4 && !tcp_in_initial_slowstart(tp);
/* /proc */
enum tcp_seq_states {

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