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Multiple Loss Ratio Search for Packet Throughput (MLRsearch)
Cisco Systems
mkonstan@cisco.com
Cisco Systems
vrpolak@cisco.com
ops
Benchmarking Working Group
Internet-Draft
This document proposes changes to , specifically to packet
throughput search methodology, by defining a new search algorithm
referred to as Multiple Loss Ratio search (MLRsearch for short). Instead
of relying on binary search with pre-set starting offered load, it
proposes a novel approach discovering the starting point in the initial
phase, and then searching for packet throughput based on defined packet
loss ratio (PLR) input criteria and defined final trial duration time.
One of the key design principles behind MLRsearch is minimizing the
total test duration and searching for multiple packet throughput rates
(each with a corresponding PLR) concurrently, instead of doing it
sequentially.
The main motivation behind MLRsearch is the new set of challenges and
requirements posed by NFV (Network Function Virtualization),
specifically software based implementations of NFV data planes. Using
in the experience of the authors yields often not repetitive
and not replicable end results due to a large number of factors that are
out of scope for this draft. MLRsearch aims to address this challenge and
define a common (standard?) way to evaluate NFV packet throughput
performance that takes into account varying characteristics of NFV
systems under test.
NDR - Non-Drop Rate, a packet throughput metric with Packet Loss Ratio
equal zero (a zero packet loss), expressed in packets-per-second
(pps). NDR packet throughput has an associated metric oftentimes
referred to as NDR bandwidth expressed in bits-per-second (bps), and
calculated as a product of:
NDR packet rate for specific packet (frame) size, and
Packet (L2 frame size) size in bits plus any associated L1 overhead.

PLR - Packet Loss Ratio, a packet loss metric calculated as a ratio of
(packets_transmitted - packets_received) to packets_transmitted, over
the test trial duration.
PDR - Partial-Drop Rate, a packet throughput metric with Packet Loss
Ratio greater than zero (a non-zero packet loss), expressed in
packets-per-second (pps). PDR packet throughput has an associated
metric oftentimes referred to as PDR bandwidth expressed in bits-per-
second (bps), and calculated as a product of:
PDR packet rate for specific packet (frame) size, and
Packet (L2 frame size) size in bits plus any associated L1 overhead.

Multiple Loss Rate search (MLRsearch) is a packet throughput search
algorithm suitable for deterministic (as opposed to probabilistic)
systems. MLRsearch discovers multiple packet throughput rates in a
single search, each rate associated with a distinct Packet Loss Ratio
(PLR) criteria.
Two popular names for particular PLR criteria are Non-Drop Rate (NDR,
with PLR=0, zero packet loss) and Partial Drop Rate (PDR, with PLR>0,
non-zero packet loss). MLRsearch discovers NDR and PDR in a single
search reducing required execution time compared to separate binary
searches for NDR and PDR. MLRsearch reduces execution time even further
by relying on shorter trial durations of intermediate steps, with only
the final measurements conducted at the specified final trial duration.
This results in the shorter overall search execution time when compared
to a standard NDR/PDR binary search, while guaranteeing the same or
similar results.
(TODO: Specify "standard" in the previous sentence.)
If needed, MLRsearch can be easily adopted to discover more throughput
rates with different pre-defined PLRs.
Unless otherwise noted, all throughput rates are always bi-directional
aggregates of two equal (symmetric) uni-directional packet rates
received and reported by an external traffic generator.
The main properties of MLRsearch:
MLRsearch is a duration aware multi-phase multi-rate search algorithm.
Initial phase determines promising starting interval for the search.
Intermediate phases progress towards defined final search criteria.
Final phase executes measurements according to the final search
criteria.

Initial phase:
Uses link rate as a starting transmit rate and discovers the Maximum
Receive Rate (MRR) used as an input to the first intermediate phase.

Intermediate phases:
Start with initial trial duration (in the first phase) and converge
geometrically towards the final trial duration (in the final phase).
Track two values for NDR and two for PDR.
The values are called (NDR or PDR) lower_bound and upper_bound.
Each value comes from a specific trial measurement
(most recent for that transmit rate),
and as such the value is associated with that measurement's duration and loss.
A bound can be invalid, for example if NDR lower_bound
has been measured with nonzero loss.
Invalid bounds are not real boundaries for the searched value,
but are needed to track interval widths.
Valid bounds are real boundaries for the searched value.
Each non-initial phase ends with all bounds valid.

Start with a large (lower_bound, upper_bound) interval width and
geometrically converge towards the width goal (measurement resolution)
of the phase. Each phase halves the previous width goal.
Use internal and external searches:
External search - measures at transmit rates outside the (lower_bound,
upper_bound) interval. Activated when a bound is invalid,
to search for a new valid bound by doubling the interval width.
It is a variant of "exponential search".
Internal search - "binary search", measures at transmit rates within the
(lower_bound, upper_bound) valid interval, halving the interval width.

Final phase
Executed with the final test trial duration, and the final width
goal that determines resolution of the overall search.

Intermediate phases together with the final phase are called
non-initial phases.

The main benefits of MLRsearch vs. binary search include:
In general MLRsearch is likely to execute more search trials overall, but
less trials at a set final duration.
In well behaving cases it greatly reduces (>50%) the overall duration
compared to a single PDR (or NDR) binary search duration,
while finding multiple drop rates.
In all cases MLRsearch yields the same or similar results to binary search.
Note: both binary search and MLRsearch are susceptible to reporting
non-repeatable results across multiple runs for very bad behaving
cases.

Caveats:
Worst case MLRsearch can take longer than a binary search e.g. in case of
drastic changes in behaviour for trials at varying durations.

Following is a brief description of a sample MLRsearch implementation
based on the open-source code running in FD.io CSIT project as part of a
Continuous Integration / Continuous Development (CI/CD) framework.
maximum_transmit_rate - maximum packet transmit rate to be used by
external traffic generator, limited by either the actual Ethernet
link rate or traffic generator NIC model capabilities. Sample
defaults: 2 * 14.88 Mpps for 64B 10GE link rate,
2 * 18.75 Mpps for 64B 40GE NIC maximum rate.
minimum_transmit_rate - minimum packet transmit rate to be used for
measurements. MLRsearch fails if lower transmit rate needs to be
used to meet search criteria. Default: 2 * 10 kpps (could be higher).
final_trial_duration - required trial duration for final rate
measurements. Default: 30 sec.
initial_trial_duration - trial duration for initial MLRsearch phase.
Default: 1 sec.
final_relative_width - required measurement resolution expressed as
(lower_bound, upper_bound) interval width relative to upper_bound.
Default: 0.5%.
packet_loss_ratio - maximum acceptable PLR search criteria for
PDR measurements. Default: 0.5%.
number_of_intermediate_phases - number of phases between the initial
phase and the final phase. Impacts the overall MLRsearch duration.
Less phases are required for well behaving cases, more phases
may be needed to reduce the overall search duration for worse behaving cases.
Default (2). (Value chosen based on limited experimentation to date.
More experimentation needed to arrive to clearer guidelines.)

First trial measures at maximum rate and discovers MRR.
in: trial_duration = initial_trial_duration.
in: offered_transmit_rate = maximum_transmit_rate.
do: single trial.
out: measured loss ratio.
out: mrr = measured receive rate.

Second trial measures at MRR and discovers MRR2.
in: trial_duration = initial_trial_duration.
in: offered_transmit_rate = MRR.
do: single trial.
out: measured loss ratio.
out: mrr2 = measured receive rate.

Third trial measures at MRR2.
in: trial_duration = initial_trial_duration.
in: offered_transmit_rate = MRR2.
do: single trial.
out: measured loss ratio.

Main loop:
in: trial_duration for the current phase.
Set to initial_trial_duration for the first intermediate phase;
to final_trial_duration for the final phase;
or to the element of interpolating geometric sequence
for other intermediate phases.
For example with two intermediate phases, trial_duration
of the second intermediate phase is the geometric average
of initial_strial_duration and final_trial_duration.
in: relative_width_goal for the current phase.
Set to final_relative_width for the final phase;
doubled for each preceding phase.
For example with two intermediate phases,
the first intermediate phase uses quadruple of final_relative_width
and the second intermediate phase uses double of final_relative_width.
in: ndr_interval, pdr_interval from the previous main loop iteration
or the previous phase.
If the previous phase is the initial phase, both intervals have
lower_bound = MRR2, uper_bound = MRR.
Note that the initial phase is likely to create intervals with invalid bounds.
do: According to the procedure described in point 2,
either exit the phase (by jumping to 1.g.),
or prepare new transmit rate to measure with.
do: Perform the trial measurement at the new transmit rate
and trial_duration, compute its loss ratio.
do: Update the bounds of both intervals, based on the new measurement.
The actual update rules are numerous, as NDR external search
can affect PDR interval and vice versa, but the result
agrees with rules of both internal and external search.
For example, any new measurement below an invalid lower_bound
becomes the new lower_bound, while the old measurement
(previously acting as the invalid lower_bound)
becomes a new and valid upper_bound.
Go to next iteration (1.c.), taking the updated intervals as new input.
out: current ndr_interval and pdr_interval.
In the final phase this is also considered
to be the result of the whole search.
For other phases, the next phase loop is started
with the current results as an input.

New transmit rate (or exit) calculation (for 1.d.):
If there is an invalid bound then prepare for external search:
If the most recent measurement at NDR lower_bound transmit rate
had the loss higher than zero, then
the new transmit rate is NDR lower_bound
decreased by two NDR interval widths.
Else, if the most recent measurement at PDR lower_bound
transmit rate had the loss higher than PLR, then
the new transmit rate is PDR lower_bound
decreased by two PDR interval widths.
Else, if the most recent measurement at NDR upper_bound
transmit rate had no loss, then
the new transmit rate is NDR upper_bound
increased by two NDR interval widths.
Else, if the most recent measurement at PDR upper_bound
transmit rate had the loss lower or equal to PLR, then
the new transmit rate is PDR upper_bound
increased by two PDR interval widths.

If interval width is higher than the current phase goal:
Else, if NDR interval does not meet the current phase width goal,
prepare for internal search. The new transmit rate is
(NDR lower bound + NDR upper bound) / 2.
Else, if PDR interval does not meet the current phase width goal,
prepare for internal search. The new transmit rate is
(PDR lower bound + PDR upper bound) / 2.

Else, if some bound has still only been measured at a lower duration,
prepare to re-measure at the current duration (and the same transmit rate).
The order of priorities is:
NDR lower_bound,
PDR lower_bound,
NDR upper_bound,
PDR upper_bound.

Else, do not prepare any new rate, to exit the phase.
This ensures that at the end of each non-initial phase
all intervals are valid, narrow enough, and measured
at current phase trial duration.

The only known working implementation of MLRsearch is in Linux Foundation
FD.io CSIT project. https://wiki.fd.io/view/CSIT. https://git.fd.io/csit/.
This document so far has been describing a simplified version of MLRsearch algorithm.
The full algorithm as implemented contains additional logic,
which makes some of the details (but not general ideas) above incorrect.
Here is a short description of the additional logic as a list of principles,
explaining their main differences from (or additions to) the simplified description,
but without detailing their mutual interaction.
Logarithmic transmit rate.
In order to better fit the relative width goal,
the interval doubling and halving is done differently.
For example, the middle of 2 and 8 is 4, not 5.
Optimistic maximum rate.
The increased rate is never higher than the maximum rate.
Upper bound at that rate is always considered valid.
Pessimistic minimum rate.
The decreased rate is never lower than the minimum rate.
If a lower bound at that rate is invalid,
a phase stops refining the interval further (until it gets re-measured).
Conservative interval updates.
Measurements above current upper bound never update a valid upper bound,
even if drop ratio is low.
Measurements below current lower bound always update any lower bound
if drop ratio is high.
Ensure sufficient interval width.
Narrow intervals make external search take more time to find a valid bound.
If the new transmit increased or decreased rate would result in width
less than the current goal, increase/decrease more.
This can happen if the measurement for the other interval
makes the current interval too narrow.
Similarly, take care the measurements in the initial phase
create wide enough interval.
Timeout for bad cases.
The worst case for MLRsearch is when each phase converges to intervals
way different than the results of the previous phase.
Rather than suffer total search time several times larger
than pure binary search, the implemented tests fail themselves
when the search takes too long (given by argument timeout).

&RFC2544;
&RFC8174;