Internet delays now are as common as they are maddening. But that means they end up affecting system engineers just like all the rest of us. And when system engineers get irritated, they often go looking for what's at the root of the problem. Take Jim Gettys, for example. His slow home network had repeatedly proved to be the source of considerable frustration, so he set out to determine what was wrong, and he even coined a term for what he found: bufferbloat.
Bufferbloat refers to excess buffering inside a network, resulting in high latency and reduced throughput. Some buffering is needed; it provides space to queue packets waiting for transmission, thus minimizing data loss. In the past, the high cost of memory kept buffers fairly small, so they filled quickly and packets began to drop shortly after the link became saturated, signaling to the communications protocol the presence of congestion and thus the need for compensating adjustments.
BufferBloat: What's Wrong With the Internet? | February 2012 | Communications of the ACM
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