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Yatin Chawathe

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Abstract:
RMX: Reliable Multicast in Heterogeneous Environments

Yatin Chawathe, Steven McCanne, and Eric Brewer

Although IP Multicast is an effective network primitive for best-effort, large-scale, multi-point communication, many multicast applications such as shared whiteboards, multi-player games and software distribution require reliable data delivery. Building services like reliable sequenced delivery on top of IP Multicast has proven to be a hard problem. The enormous extent of network and end-system heterogeneity in multi-point communication exacerbates the design of scalable end-to-end reliable multicast protocols. In this paper, we propose a radical departure from the traditional end-to-end model for reliable multicast and instead propose a hybrid approach that leverages the successes of unicast reliability protocols such as TCP while retaining the efficiency of IP multicast for multi-point data delivery. Our approach splits a large heterogeneous reliable multicast session into a number of multicast data groups of co-located homogeneous participants. A collection of application-aware agents---Reliable Multicast proXies (RMXs)---organizes these data groups into a spanning tree using an overlay network of TCP connections. Sources transmit data to their local group, and the RMX in that group forwards the data towards the rest of the data groups. RMXs use detailed knowledge of application semantics to adapt to the effects of heterogeneity in the environment. To demonstrate the efficacy of our architecture, we have built a prototype implementation that can be customized for different kinds of applications.


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