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RFC 619 - Mean round-trip times in the ARPANET


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Network Working Group                                          W. Naylor
Request for Comment: 619                                    H. Opderbeck
NIC 21990                                                       UCLA-NMC
                                                           March 7, 1974

                  Mean Round-Trip Times in the ARPANET

In one of our current measurement projects we are interested in the
average values of important network parameters.  For this purpose we
collect data on the network activity over seven consecutive days.  This
data collection is only interrupted by down-time or maintenance of
either the net or our collecting facility (the "late" Sigma-7 or, in
future, the 360/91 at CCN).

The insight gained from the analysis of this data has been reported in
Network Measurement Group Note 18 (NIC 20793):

    L.  Kleinrock and W. Naylor
    "On Measured Behavior of the ARPA Network"

This paper will be presented at the NCC '74 in Chicago.

In this RFC we want to report the mean round-trip times (or delays) that
were observed during these week-long measurements since we think these
figures are of general interest to the ARPA community.  Let us first
define the term "round trip time" as it is used by the statistics
gathering program in the IMPs.  When a message is sent from a source
HOST to a destination HOST, the following events, among others, can be
distinguished (T(i) is the time of event i):

  T(1): The message is passed from the user program to the NCP in the
        source HOST

  T(2): The proper entry is made in the pending packet table (PPT) for
        single packet messages or the pending leader table (PLT) for
        multiple packet messages after the first packet is received by
        the source IMP

  T(3): The first packet of the message is put on the proper output
        queue in the source IMP (at this time the input of the second
        packet is initiated)

  T(4): The message is put on the HOST-output queue in the destination
        IMP (at this time the reassembly of the message is complete)

  T(5): The RFNM is sent from the destination IMP to the source IMP

  T(6): The RFNM arrives at the source IMP

  T(7): The RFNM is accepted by the source HOST

The time intervals T(i)-T(i-1) are mainly due to the following delays
and waiting times:

  T(2)-T(1): -HOST processing delay
             -HOST-IMP transmission delay for the 32-bit leader
             -Waiting time for a message number to become free (only
              four messages can simultaneously be transmitted between
              any pair of source IMP - destination IMP)
             -Waiting time for a buffer to become free (there must be
              more than three buffers on the "free buffer list")
             -HOST-IMP transmission delay for the first packet
             -Waiting time for an entry in the PPT or PLT to become
              available (there are eight entries in the PPT and twelve
              in the PLT table)

  T(3)-T(2): -Waiting time for a store-and-forward (S/F) buffer to
              become free (the maximum number of S/F-buffers is 20).
             -Waiting time for a logical ACK-channel to become free
              (there are 8 logical ACK-channels for each physical
              channel).
             -For multiple packet messages, waiting time until the
              ALLOCATE is received (unless an allocation from a previous
              multiple-packet message still exists; such an allocation
              is returned in the RFNM and expires after 125 msec)

  T(4)-T(3): -Queuing delay, transmission delay, and propagation delay
              in all the IMPs and lines in the path from source IMP to
              destination IMP
             -Possibly retransmission delay due to transmission errors
              or lack of buffer space (for multiple packet messages the
              delays for the individual packets overlap)

  T(5)-T(4): -Queuing delay in the destination IMP
             -IMP-HOST transmission delay for the first packet
             -For multiple-packet messages, waiting time for reassembly
              buffers to become free to piggy-back an ALLOCATE on the
              RFNM (if this waiting time exceeds one second then the
              RFNM is sent without the ALLOCATE)

  T(6)-T(5): -Queuing delay, transmission delay, and propagation delay
              for the RFNM in all the IMPs and lines in the path from
              destination IMP to source IMP

  T(7)-T(6): -Queuing delay for the RFNM in the source IMP
             -IMP-HOST transmission delay for the RFNM

IMP processing delays are not included in this table since they are
usually very small.  Also, some of the abovementioned waiting times
reduce to zero in many cases, e.g. the waiting time for a message number
to become available and the waiting time for a buffer to become free.

If the source and destination HOSTs are attached to the same IMP, this
table can be simplified as follows:

  T(2)-T(1):  as before
  T(3)-T(2):  for multiple packet messages: waiting time until
              reassembly space becomes available (there are up to 66
              reassembly buffers)
  T(4)-T(3):  for multiple packet messages: HOST-IMP transmission delay
              for packets 2,3,...
  T(5)-T(4):  as before
  T(6)-T(5):  0
  T(7)-T(6):  as before

Up to now we have neglected the possibility that a single packet message
is rejected at the destination IMP because of lack of reassembly space.
If this occurs, the single packet message is treated as a request for
buffer space allocation and the time interval T(3)-T(2) increased by the
waiting time until the corresponding "ALLOCATE" is received.

The round trip time (RTT) is now defined as the time interval T(6)-T(2).
Note that the RTT for multiple packet messages does include the waiting
time until the ALLOCATE is received.  It does, however, not include the
source HOST processing delay (i.e. delays in the NCP), the HOST-IMP
transmission delay, and the waiting time until a message number becomes
available.  Note also, that the RFNM is sent after the first packet of a
multiple packet message has been received by the destination HOST.

Let us now turn to the presentation of the average round trip times as
they were measured during continuous seven-day periods in August and
December '73.  In August, an average number of 2935 messages/minute were
entering the ARPANET.  The overall mean round trip delay for all these
messages was 93 milliseconds (msec).  The corresponding numbers for
December were 2226 messages/minute and 200 msec.  An obvious question
that immediately arises is: why did the average round trip delay more
than double while the rate of incoming messages decreased?  The answer
to this question can be found in the large round trip delays for the
status reports that are sent from each IMP to the NCC.  Each IMP sends,
on the average, 2.29 status reports per minute to the NCC.  Since there

were 45 sites connected to the net in December, a total of 103.05 status
reports per minute were sent to the NCC.  Thus 4.63 percent of all
messages that entered the net were status reports.

The average round trip delay for all these status reports in December
was 1.66 sec.  This number is five to ten times larger than the average
round-trip delay for status reports we observed in August.  It is not
yet clear what change in the collection of status reports caused this
increase.  One reason appears to be that the number of these reports was
doubled between August and December.  Since the large round-trip delays
of these status reports distort the overall picture somewhat, we are
going to present the December data - wherever appropriate - with and
without the effect of these delays.  (We should point out here that the
traffic/delay picture is distorted by the accumulated statistics
messages which were collected to produce this data.  We have, however,
ignored this effect since these measurement messages represent less than
0.3% of the total traffic.)  The overall mean round trip delay without
the status reports in December is 132 msec.  This value is still more
than 35 msec larger than the corresponding value for August.  However,
before we shall attempt to explain this difference we will first present
the measured data.

Table 1 shows the mean round trip delay as a function of the number of
hops over the minimum-hop path.  This minimum number of hops was
calculated from the (static) topology of the net as it existed in August
and December of last year.  The actual number of hops over which any
given message travels may, of course, be larger due to network
congestion, line failures or IMP failures.  In fact, for August we
observed a minimum mean path length of 3.24 while the actual measured
mean path length was 3.30; in December we observed 4.02 and 4.40,
respectively.  (See Network Measurement Group Note #18 for an
explanation of the computation of actual mean path length.)  As expected
we observe a sharp increase of the mean round trip delay as the minimum
number of hops is increased.  Note, however, that the mean round trip
delay is not a strictly increasing function of the minimum number of
hops.

Table 2 gives the mean round trip delay for messages from a given site.
The December data is presented with and without the large delays
incurred by the sending of status reports to the NCC.  Table 3 shows the
mean round trip delay for messages to a given site.  The largest round
trip delays, in December, were incurred by messages sent to the NCC-TIP
since these messages include all the status reports.

Table 4, finally, gives for each site the mean round trip delays to
those three destination IMP/TIP's to which the most messages were sent
during the seven-day measurement period in December.  Let us first say
few words about the traffic distribution which is dealt with in more

detail in Network Measurement Group Note #18.  There are several sites
which like to use their IMP as a kind of local multiplexer (UTAH, MIT,
HARV, CMU, USCT, CCAT, XROX, HAWT, MIT2).  For these sites the most
favorite destination site is the source IMP itself.  For several other
sites the most favorite destination site is just one hop away (BBN,
AMES, AMST, NCCT,  RUTT).  Nobody will be surprised that for many sites
ISI (ILL, MTRT, ETAT, SDAT, ARPT, RMLT, LONT) or SRI (UCSB, RADT, NBST)
is the most favorite site.  There are several other sites (SDC, LL,
CASE, DOCT, BELV, ABRD, FNWT, LBL, NSAT, TYMT, MOFF, WPAT) which were
rather inactive in terms of generating traffic during the seven-day
measurement period in December.  Most of their messages were status
reports sent to the NCC.  (Those IMPs, for which the frequency of
messages to the NCC-TIP is less than 2.2 messages per minute, were down
for some time during the measurement period).

Let us now attempt to give a few explanations for the overall increase
in the mean round trip delay between August and December.  These
explanations may also help to understand the differences in the mean
round trip delays for any given source IMP-destination IMP pair as
observed in Table 4.

1.  Frequency of routing messages.  Routing messages are the major
    source of queuing delay in a very lightly loaded net.  In August, a
    routing message was sent every 640 msec.  Since a routing message is
    1160 bits long, 3.625 percent of the bandwidth of a 50 kbs circuit
    was used for the sending of routing messages.  For randomly arriving
    packets this corresponds to a mean queuing delay of 0.42 msec per
    hop.  Between August and December the frequency of sending routing
    messages was made dependent on line speed and line utilization.  As
    a result, routing messages are now sent on a 50 kbs circuit with
    zero load every 128 msec.  This corresponds to a line utilization of
    18.125 percent and a mean queuing delay of 2.10 msec.  The queuing
    delay due to routing messages in a very lightly loaded net in
    December was therefore five times as large as it was in August.

2.  Traffic matrix.  The overall mean round trip delay depends on the
    traffic matrix.  If most of the messages are sent over distances of
    0 or 1 hop the overall round trip delay will be small.  The heavy
    traffic between AMES and AMST over a high-speed circuit in August
    contributed to the small overall mean round trip delay.

3.  Network topology.  The mean round trip delay depends on the number
    of hops between source-IMP and destination-IMP and therefore on the
    network topology.  Disregarding line or IMP failures, the mean
    number of hops for a message in August and December was,
    respectively, 3.24 and 4.02.

4.  Averaging.  The network load, given in number or messages per
    minute, represents an average over a seven-day period.  Even though
    this number may be small, considerable queuing delays could have
    been incurred during bursts of traffic.

5.  Host delays.  The round trip delay includes the transmission delay
    of the first packet from the destination-IMP to the destination-
    HOST; therefore, the mean round trip delay may be influenced by HOST
    delays that are independent of the network load.

                   Table 1 Mean Round Trip Delay as a
                     Function of the Number of Hops

      #MESSAGES/MINUTE  #SITE PAIRS     MEAN ROUND TRIP DELAY
HOPS   AUG      DEC     AUG     DEC     AUG     DEC    DEC
                                                WITH   W/OUT
                                                STAT   STAT
                                                RPTS   RPTS
O       646.9   378.3    39      45      27      44      41

1       487.6   288.7    86     100      25      65      50

2       191.0   143.1   118     138      70     119      80

3       380.7   226.9   148     168      95     131     112

4       218.5   274.1   176     196     102     167     119

5       276.3   185.6   204     228     109     217     134

6       183.8   136.3   210     258     175     355     167

7       333.6   212.7   218     256     178     301     240

8       156.7   161.1   160     234     222     365     241

9        59.0   160.3   102     208     270     308     218

10       0.6     29.9   40      124     331     939     410

11       1.0     18.9   20       46     344     998     699

12       -       10.2    -       20      -      992     655

13       -        0.01   -        4      -      809     809

     Table 2  Mean Round Trip Delays for Messages from a Given Site

               #MESSAGES/MINUTE       MEAN ROUND TRIP DELAY
    SITE      AUGUST    DECEMBER   AUGUST   DECEMBER  DECEMBER
                                                WITH   WITHOUT
                                              STATUS    STATUS
                                             REPORTS   REPORTS
 1  UCLA        50.7      40.3       130         282       165
 2  SRI        377.3     147.9        45         189       174
 3  UCSB        80.2      70.3       120         221       161
 4  UTAH        27.0      46.2       136         247       169
 5  BBN        120.4     128.3       110         133       133
 6  MIT        120.6      96.9       126         160       150
 7  RAND        29.3      34.2       127         323       208
 8  SDC          1.7       2.4       521        2068       131
 9  HARV        50.3      96.0       105          88        72
10  LL           4.4       6.7       201         602       187
11  STAN        49.7      39.7       173         300       191
12  ILL         26.8      53.4       158         216       165
13  CASE        57.6       2.5       138        1592       335
14  CMU         61.1      59.5       153         220       170
15  AMES       242.4     114.1        43         120        81
16  AMST       304.0     163.0        39          94        67
17  MTRT        89.5      60.0       126         199       142
18  RADT        27.7      29.1       145         273       160
19  NBST        98.4      48.2       118         213       152
20  ETAT        24.1      20.6       119         280       119
21  LLL          -         6.8         -         721       169
22  ISI        372.0     304.4       110         147       142
23  USCT       298.1     210.3        60          92        70
24  GWCT        10.5      14.1       144         381       102
25  DOCT         5.5       7.0       236         791       171
26  SDAT        14.7      22.9       164         322       177
27  BELV         1.3       2.4       243        1469       466
28  ARPT        57.9      64.3        84         150        93
29  ABRD         1.3       2.4       183        1402       554
30  BBNT        40.8      10.0        75         372       124
31  CCAT       177.7      86.7        83         147       115
32  XROX        56.8      71.7        79         136        78
33  FNWT         2.3       3.5       347        1466       174
34  LBL          1.2       2.7       384        1653       621
35  UCSD        11.9      19.3       237         413       205
36  HAWT        27.5       5.2       654         569       476
37  RMLT        10.4      13.0       122         387        97
40  NCCT         -        59.3         -         110        97
41  NSAT         0.6       3.4      1022        1870      1056
42  LONT         -        20.8         -         998       848
43  TYMT         -         3.7         -        1352       157

44  MIT2         -         5.6         -         720       100
45  MOFF         -         2.4         -        1982       447
46  RUTT         -        22.4         -         271       153
47  WPAT         -         2.7         -        1399       380

      Table 3  Mean Round Trip Delay for Messages to a Given Site
               #MESSAGES/MINUTE    MEAN ROUND TRIP DELAY
    SITE      AUGUST    DECEMBER    AUGUST    DECEMBER
 1  UCLA        57.1      43.5       134         209
 2  SRI        382.3     149.4        45         158
 3  UCSB        61.1      59.1       117         138
 4  UTAH        28.1      50.4       128         159
 5  BBN        160.8     149.2       185         110
 6  MIT        150.4     107.1       116         130
 7  RAND        22.6      25.0        95         161
 8  SDC          1.7       0.8       149         174
 9  HARV        59.3      98.3       101          70
10  LL           4.6       5.2       195         202
11  STAN        65.3      40.6       135         162
12  ILL         29.1      69.8       156         149
13  CASE        52.6       4.0       127         262
14  CMU         74.8      68.9       135         165
15  AMES       210.3     117.2        40          75
16  AMST       316.7     135.0        38          86
17  MTRT        77.7      51.7       130         151
18  RADT        23.4      23.9       142         202
19  NBST        92.2      39.5       125         169
20  ETAT        25.4      22.8       110         111
21  LLL          -         3.7         -         185
22  ISI        361.9     299.2       107         130
23  USCT       298.1     190.6        60          68
24  GWCT        10.5       7.3       144         122
25  DOCT         5.5       4.2       236         187
26  SDAT        13.3      19.7       149         177
27  BELV         0.9       0.9       196         285
28  ARPT        55.4      58.3        78          95
29  ABRD         1.3       0.7       183         271
30  BBNT        40.8       6.4        75         159
31  CCAT       177.7      76.3        83         119
32  XROX        56.8      75.3        79          69
33  FNWT         2.3       1.4       347         165
34  LBL          1.2       0.9       384         305
35  UCSD        11.9      24.0       237         157
36  HAWT        27.5       5.0       654         458
37  RMLT        10.4      11.0       122          97
40  NCCT         -       140.1         -        1263
41  NSAT         0.6       1.6      1022         918
42  LONT         -        17.3         -         855
43  TYMT         -         1.6         -         160
44  MIT2         -         3.9         -          83
45  MOFF         -         0.2         -         219
46  RUTT         -        14.7         -         153
47  WPAT         -         0.5         -         282

    Table 4  Mean Round Trip Delay to the Three Most Favorite Sites

                            #MESSAGES/MINUTE  MEAN ROUND TRIP DELAY
FROM SITE       TO SITE     AUGUST  DECEMBER  AUGUST  DECEMBER

 1 UCLA          1 RAND     10.8         9.4     57      92
                26 SDAT      5.6         5.9    157     191
                22 ISI       3.1         3.1     99     146

 2 SRI          12 RADT     16.6        19.5    142     163
                17 MTRT     21.9        18.7    140     161
                 2 SRI     266.1        17.5     14      69

 3 UCSB          2 SRI       8.1        17.8     72      68
                22 ISI      18.1        17.0     75      86
                14 CMU      16.6        11.8    140     152

 4 UTAH          4 UTAH      3.5        13.5    136      27
                22 ISI       3.7         4.8    131     165
                 5 BBN       4.2         4.1    168     204

 5 BBN          40 NCCT      -          81.4      -     105
                 5 BBN      12.5        19.7    102      37
                 9 HARV      0.5         9.2     22      37

 6 MIT           6 MIT      40.6        24.0     81      85
                23 USCT      9.8        13.9    150     173
                 9 HARV      1.7        12.0     63      88

 7 RAND          1 UCLA     12.5        10.4     54      96
                16 AMST      0.8         2.6     99     190
                40 NCCT      -           2.5      -    1941

 8 SDC          40 NCCT      -           2.2      -    2217
                 1 UCLA      0.2         0.2    110     136
                 8 SDC       0.01        0.01    93      13

 9 HARV          9 HARV      7.6        50.5     49      21
                 2 MIT       1.6        11.9     62      85
                 5 BBN       1.6         9.5     56      37

10 LL           40 NCCT      -           2.2      -    1420
                10 LL        1.5         1.8    238     135
                24 GWCT      0.04        0.6    146      80

11 STAN         14 CMU       3.0         7.0    215     207
                 4 UTAH      0.2         5.5    117     117
                 6 MIT       6.5         5.0    186     225

12 ILL          22 ISI      13.3        20.3    146     142
                15 AMES      0.8        14.6    109     135
                35 UCSD      6.7         6.5    192     269

13 CASE         40 NCCT      -           2.2      -    1744
                 1 UCLA      0.2         0.2    296     400
                 2 SRI       7.1         0.01   163     316

14 CMU          14 CMU      13.8        23.4    129      94
                 3 UCSB     13.8         9.2    153     166
                11 STAN      3.2         5.1    193     209

15 AMES         16 AMST    205.0        65.8     15      34
                12 ILL       1.2        19.6    115     120
                31 CCAT      3.2         4.6    174     230

16 AMST         15 AMES    176.8        74.3     13      28
                22 ISI      63.6        33.2     50      69
                32 XROX     13.3        17.4     41      60

17 MTRT         22 ISI      26.3        27.5    115     118
                 2 SRI      23.8        20.3    137     155
                 5 BBN       3.5         4.2    179     133

18 RADT          2 SRI      17.7        21.7    139     156
                 1 UCLA      0.4         2.3    265     181
                40 NCCT      -           2.3      -    1618

19 NBST          2 SRI      14.1        12.1    132     163
                22 ISI      29.6        11.8    100     117
                 5 BBN      21.6         9.6     71      97

20 ETAT         22 ISI      11.9        11.3    106     107
                24 GWCT      5.0         5.9     99     107
                40 NCCT      -           2.2      -    1602

21 LLL           5 BBN       -           2.9      -     183
                40 NCCT      -           2.2      -    1847
                 4 UTAH      -           0.5      -      71

22 ISI          28 ARPT     26.0        38.3    106     104
                23 USCT     69.0        32.7     80      92
                16 AMST     62.0        28.5     53      87

23 USCT         23 USCT    160.9        119.2    19      23
                22 ISI      69.2        34.1     78      91
                 6 MIT      12.9        19.6    135     150

24 GWCT         20 ETAT      6.6        10.8     93      91
                40 NCCT      -           2.1      -    1978
                10 LL        0.03        0.5    359     115

25 DOCT         40 NCCT      -           2.3      -    2091
                22 ISI       1.0         1.6    220     118
                15 AMES      1.9         1.2    167     198

26 SDAT         22 ISI       2.9         8.7    154     138
                 1 UCLA      5.9         6.0    169     209
                 2 SRI       1.0         4.4    182     184

27 BELV         40 NCCT      -           2.2      -    1553
                 1 UCLA      0.1         0.2    405     517
                22 ISI       -           0.01     -     325

28 ARPT         22 ISI      27.4        41.6    106     101
                28 ARPT     19.2        13.7     20      35
                 2 SRI       3.3         3.3    139     157

29 ABRD         40 NCCT      -           2.2      -    1461
                 1 UCLA      0.2         0.2    439     562
                 9 HARV      -           0.01     -     112

30 BBNT          5 BBN      24.2         5.1     36      64
                40 NCCT      -           2.1      -    1327
                22 ISI       4.2         1.1    170     217

31 CCAT         31 CCAT     81.9        28.2     15      31
                22 ISI      31.3        23.3    156     171
                 5 BBN       7.8         7.3     45      42

32 XROX         32 XROX     20.2        36.4     19      15
                16 AMST     10.5        13.3     69      93
                14 CMU       2.5         3.0    193     251

33 FNWT         40 NCCT      -           2.2      -    2210
                 9 HARV      0.01        0.3    208     194
                 7 RAND      0.3         0.3     96     171

34 LBL          40 NCCT      -           2.4      -    1814
                41 NSAT      -           0.2      -    1674
                 1 UCLA      0.1         0.2    295     478

35 UCSD         12 ILL       6.0         7.5    220     260
                16 AMST      1.7         4.9    120     172
                40 NCCT      -           2.0      -    2183

36 HAWT         36 HAWT      0.04        1.6     17      26
                22 ISI       5.1         1.0    600     623
                15 AMES      2.5         0.8    551     590

37 RMLT         22 ISI       7.5         9.0     68      67
                40 NCCT      -           2.2      -    1918
                28 ARPT      -           1.0      -      63

40 NCCT          5 BBN       -          41.2      -      33
                40 NCCT      -           6.6      -     433
                22 ISI       -           3.2      -     151

41 NSAT         40 NCCT      -           2.2      -    2308
                 2 SRI       0.01        0.4   1046    1002
                 3 UCSB      0.01        0.2   1169    1018

42 LONT         22 ISI       -           6.1      -     837
                 2 SRI       -           3.7      -     884
                 4 UTAH      -           2.2      -     921

43 TYMT         40 NCCT      -           2.6      -    1859
                 2 SRI       -           0.5      -      79
                 3 UCSB      -           0.2      -      74

44 MIT2         44 MIT2      -           2.8      -      18
                40 NCCT      -           2.3      -    1664
                 1 UCLA      -           0.2      -     589

46 MOFF         40 NCCT      -           2.2      -    2091
                 1 UCLA      -           0.2      -     447

46 RUTT          9 HARV      -           4.3      -      38
                 5 BBN       -           3.5      -      93
                22 ISI       -           2.9      -     172

47 WPAT         40 NCCT      -           2.2      -    1643
                 3 UCSB      -           0.2      -     301
                 1 UCLA      -           0.2      -     671

       [ This RFC was put into machine readable form for entry ]
       [ into the online RFC archives by Alex McKenzie with    ]
       [ support from GTE, formerly BBN Corp.            12/99 ]

 

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