NetPerfMeter : A Network Performance Metering Tool

Introduction

A common problem for evaluating multiple transport protocols in a multi-platform environment is to have a test tool that is capable to run in all these environments, and – of course – to support all necessary protocols. Using different evaluation tools is not a good solution, since each tool may introduce its own – and possibly incompatible – parametrisation scheme. In order to overcome this problem, originally for the use case of evaluating the Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) and compare it to the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), NetPerfMeter has been designed and developed.

What is NetPerfMeter?

NetPerfMeter [3][5] is an open source, multi-platform transport protocol performance evaluation software. It currently supports the Linux, FreeBSD and MacOS platforms (with possibility to easily extend it to further platforms), and the transport protocols SCTP, TCP including Multi-Path TCP (MPTCP, if supported by the operating system), UDP (User Datagram Protocol) and DCCP (Datagram Congestion Control Protocol, if supported by the operating system). The figure below presents the NetPerfMeter protocol stack.

../../../_images/EN-NetPerfMeter-ProtocolStack.png

In each direction, a data channel can be operated in saturated mode (send as much as possible; not available for UDP-based data channels) or non-saturated mode. In case of the non-saturated mode, the traffic is configured in form of frame rates and frame sizes. That is, frames of a given size are generated in given intervals. Both, frame rate and frame size can be randomised as well.

The performance of the data channels (bandwidth, delay, jitter, etc.) is evaluated and recorded at active and passive side. At the end of a measurement, all collected data is transferred over the control channel to the active side. That is, a user can just conveniently collect all results at the active side. Further details on NerPerfMeter can be found in [3]. [4], [3] also introduce an OMNeT++ simulation model for NetPerfMeter that can be used in simulations, in order to easily compare simulation results and real-world measurements. [1], [2] and [6] provide examples of NetPerfMeter usage for SCTP and MPTCP protocol performance analyses.

Testing MPTCP with NetPerfMeter

In the following, a short tutorial for using NetPerfMeter with MPTCP is provided. It explains the basic features to start experimenting. A more detailed overview of all possible options can be found in the manpage of NetPerfMeter.

Starting the Passive Side

First, the passive side of NetPerfMeter needs to be started:

netperfmeter 9000

This command starts NetPerfMeter in server mode, waiting for control channel connections on port 9000.

Starting the Active Side

One Non-Saturated TCP Flow

Let us start with just one TCP flow:

netperfmeter <passive side>:9000 -tcp const10:const1460:const0:const0

This command starts NetPerfMeter in client mode, connecting to the given peer (given by hostname or IP address), port 9000. A TCP data channel is established, sending 10 frames/s with 1460 bytes/frame from the active to the passive side. The second parameter block specifies 0 frames/s with 0 bytes/frame (that is, no data) in the opposite direction. The measurement ends when stopped by SIGINT (i.e. Ctrl+C).

One Saturated TCP Flow

Making the TCP flow saturated (that is, to send as much as possible) is as easy as setting the frame rate to 0 frames/s (meaning to send as much as possible). Each frame again has a size of 1460 bytes:

netperfmeter <passive side>:9000 -tcp const0:const1460:const0:const0

A Bidirectional TCP Flow

In order to also transmit data in the direction from passive side to active side, just update the parameters:

netperfmeter <passive side>:9000 -tcp const0:const1460:const10:const1460

A fixed frame size of 1460 bytes may not be useful in all scenarios. Therefore, NetPerfMeter provides random distributions as well:

  • exp<average>: Negative exponential distribution with given average. Example: exp1000.
  • uniform<lower>,<upper>: Uniform distribution from lower to upper bound. Example: uniform500,25000.

Random distributions can of course be used for the frame rate as well.

Multi-Path Transport

NetPerfMeter is also able to turn MPTCP on or off per socket (given that the implementation supports the TCP_MULTIPATH_ENABLE socket option). Then, MPTCP can be enabled by the “cmt=mptcp” option:

netperfmeter <passive side>:9000 -tcp const0:const1460:const0:const0:cmt=mptcp

MPTCP versus TCP

Of course, NetPerfMeter can use multiple data channels as well:

netperfmeter <passive side>:9000 \
    -tcp const0:const1460:const0:const0:cmt=mptcp \
    -tcp const0:const1460:const0:const0:cmt=off

In this case, NetPerfMeter starts one MPTCP flow and one concurrent TCP flow. “cmt=off” turns MPTCP off (the default; just not specifying the “cmt” option has the same effect).

Recording Statistics

One of the most important features for researchers is of course to easily get machine-readable results files. Two parameters provide the generation of such files:

  • -scalar=<prefix>.<suffix>
: Generates files named <prefix>-<active|passive>-<flow ID>-<stream ID>.<suffix> with aggregates over the whole measurement. The scalar file format is compatible to OMNeT++ scalar files.
  • -vector=<prefix>.<suffix> :

Generates files named <prefix>-<active|passive>-<flow ID>-<stream ID>.<suffix> with per-frame statistics. The vector files are text tables that could for example be processed by GNU R2 or GNU Plot3. For convenience, if the suffix ends with .bz>2, the results file is BZip2-compressed on the fly. To automate measurements, the -runtime=<seconds> option specifies a duration of the measurement. That is, the following example would run a 60s MPTCP versus TCP comparison, and record scalars as well as vectors:

netperfmeter <passive side>:9000 \
   -runtime=60 \
   -scalar=scalars.sca.bz2 \
   -vector=vectors.vec.bz2 \
   -tcp const0:const1460:const0:const0:cmt=mptcp \
   -tcp const0:const1460:const0:const0:cmt=off

Conclusion

NetPerfMeter is a convenient and flexible open source tool for transport protocol performance analysis. It particularly provides multi-platform support and works with TCP, SCTP, UDP as well as DCCP.

../../../_images/EN-Logo-NetPerfMeter.png

References

[1] Dreibholz, T.; Zhou, X. and Fa, F.: ”Multi-Path TCP in Real-World Setups – An Evaluation in the NorNet Core Testbed”, in 5th International Workshop on Protocols and Applications with Multi-Homing Support (PAMS), pp. 617–622, Gwangju/South Korea, March 2015.

[2] Dreibholz, T.; Adhari, H.; Becke, M. and Rathgeb, E. P.: ”Simulation and Experimental Evaluation of Multipath Congestion Control Strategies”, in Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Protocols and Applications with Multi-Homing Support (PAMS), Fukuoka/Japan, March 2012.

[3] Dreibholz, T.: ”Evaluation and Optimisation of Multi-Path Transport using the Stream Control Transmission Protocol”, Habilitation Treatise, University of Duisburg-Essen, Faculty of Economics, Institute for Computer Science and Business Information Systems, March 2012.

[4] Dreibholz, T.; Adhari, H.; Becke, M. and Rathgeb, E. P.: ”NetPerfMeter – A Versatile Tool for Multi-Protocol Network Performance Evaluations”, OMNeT++ Code Contribution, University of Duisburg-Essen, Institute for Experimental Mathematics, February 2012.

[5] Dreibholz, T.; Becke, M.; Adhari, H. and Rathgeb, E. P.: ”Evaluation of A New Multipath Congestion Control Scheme using the NetPerfMeter Tool-Chain”, inProceedings of the 19th IEEE International Conference on Software, Telecommunications and Computer Networks (SoftCOM), pp. 1–6, Hvar/Croatia, September 2011.

[6] Adhari, H.; Dreibholz, T.; Becke, M.; Rathgeb, E. P. and Tüxen, M.: ”Evaluation of Concurrent Multipath Transfer over Dissimilar Paths”, in Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on Protocols and Applications with Multi-Homing Support (PAMS), pp. 708–714, Singapore, March 2011.