[Make-wifi-fast] Diagram of the ath9k TX path

David Lang david at lang.hm
Mon May 9 23:41:39 EDT 2016

On Mon, 9 May 2016, Dave Taht wrote:

> On Mon, May 9, 2016 at 7:25 PM, Jonathan Morton <chromatix99 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> On 9 May, 2016, at 18:35, Dave Taht <dave.taht at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> should we always wait a little bit to see if we can form an aggregate?
>> I thought the consensus on this front was “no”, as long as we’re making the decision when we have an immediate transmit opportunity.
> I think it is more nuanced than how david lang has presented it.

I have four reasons for arguing for no speculative delays.

1. airtime that isn't used can't be saved.

2. lower best-case latency

3. simpler code

4. clean, and gradual service degredation under load.

the arguments against are:

5. throughput per ms of transmit time is better if aggregation happens than if 
it doesn't.

6. if you don't transmit, some other station may choose to before you would have 

#2 is obvious, but with the caviot that anytime you transmit you may be delaying 
someone else.

#1 and #6 are flip sides of each other. we want _someone_ to use the airtime, 
the question is who.

#3 and #4 are closely related.

If you follow my approach (transmit immediately if you can, aggregate when you 
have a queue), the code really has one mode (plus queuing). "If you have a 
Transmit Oppertunity, transmit up to X packets from the queue", and it doesn't 
matter if it's only one packet.

If you delay the first packet to give you a chance to aggregate it with others, 
you add in the complexity and overhead of timers (including cancelling 
timers, slippage in timers, etc) and you add "first packet, 
start timers" mode to deal with.

I grant you that the first approach will "saturate" the airtime at lower traffic 
levels, but at that point all the stations will start aggregating the minimum 
amount needed to keep the air saturated, while still minimizing latency.

I then expect that application related optimizations would then further 
complicate the second approach. there are just too many cases where small 
amounts of data have to be sent and other things serialize behind them.

DNS lookup to find a domain to then to a 3-way handshake to then do a request to 
see if the <web something> library has been updated since last cached (repeat 
for several libraries) to then fetch the actual page content. All of these thing 
up to the actual page content could be single packets that have to be sent (and 
responded to with a single packet), waiting for the prior one to complete. If 
you add a few ms to each of these, you can easily hit 100ms in added latency. 
Once you start to try and special cases these sorts of things, the code 
complexity multiplies.

So I believe that the KISS approach ends up with a 'worse is better' situation.

David Lang

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