The TIME_WAIT state in TCP and Its Effect on Busy Servers

Theodore Faber
Joe Touch
Wei Yue

University of Southern California/Information Sciences Institute
4676 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
Phone: 310-822-1511


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Abstract - Hosts providing important network services such as HTTP and FTP incur a per-connection memory load from TCP that can adversely affect their connection rate and throughput. The memory requirement is directly tied to the number of connections; caching and other sharing methods will not alleviate it. We have observed HTTP throughput reductions of as much as 50% under SunOS 4.1.3 due to this loading. This paper advocates off-loading the memory requirements to the growing number of clients. This reduces server memory requirements as connection rate at that server grows due to increases in the number of clients and the bandwidth available on the network. Our approaches control server memory load better with growing client load than per-transaction techniques such as persistent HTTP connections. Our approaches also interoperate with persistent connections to take advantage of their other benefits. This paper describes the causes of the memory loading, called TIME-WAIT loading,and defines three methods of alleviating it that scale with increasing number of clients. We present measurements of the systems and a comparison of their properties.