Chris Maeda, Brian N. Bershad. Protocol Service Decomposition for High-Peformance Networking. [postscript] To be presented at the 14th ACM Symposium on Operating Principles, December 1993.

In this paper we describe a new approach to implementing network protocols that enables them to have high performance and high flexibility, while retaining complete conformity to existing application programming interfaces. The key insight behind our work is that an application's interface to the network is distinct and separable from its interface to the operating system. We have separated these interfaces for two protocol implementations, TCP/IP and UDP/IP, running on the Mach 3.0 operating system and UNIX server. Specifically, library code in the application's address space implements the network protocols and transfers data to and from the network, while an operating system server manages the heavyweight abstractions that applications use when manipulating the network through operations other than send and receive. On DECstation 5000/200 systems connected by 10Mb/sec Ethernet, this approach to protocol decomposition achieves TCP/IP throughput of 1088 KB/second, which is comparable to that of a high-quality in-kernel TCP/IP implementation, and substantially better than a server-based one. Our approach achieves small-packet UDP/IP round trip latencies of 1.23 ms, again comparable to a kernel-based implementation and more than twice as fast as a server-based one.