Internet Networking recitation #3

Header Compression

Spring Semester 2010, Dept. of Computer Science, Technion


The size of network and transport layers headers may be a significant overhead for small packets. A problem in the links with
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Low bandwidth High bit error rates (BER) Long round-trip times (RTT). VoIP traffic over wireless or cellular medium. • 16kb/s data rate with a 20ms sampling rate produces packets with 40 bytes of data : 16Kb/s = 320b/20ms = 40Byte/20ms. Satellite links: high BER and delays. Using Telnet over slow modem connection with small (1byte) data size. RTP/UDP/IP headers compression is defined in RFC2508. TCP/IP headers compression is defined in RFC 1144.


Solution: Compress the headers
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Header Compression
This is not an end to end compression. Compression is done in the ingress point of the (slow) serial link. Decompression is done in the egress point of the serial link. Compression is done between the network and the link layers.

Transparent to the network and transport layers.
RTP UDP IP H.C. Link Layer IP H.C. RTP UDP IP Link Layer



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Basic Idea
The sender and receiver keep track of active connections. The receiver keeps a copy of the header from the last packet from each connection. Differential coding: The delta between the current and the previous packet is sent. A connection number is sent with the compressed packet.

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TCP/IP Headers

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Constant Fields

In a TCP connection many fields are likely to remain constant.

A connection is defined by: source IP and port, destination IP and port.

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Unnecessary and Changeable Fields
Some fields are unnecessary
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Total length (redundancy with layer II protocols). IP checksum (only Packet ID is left in the IP header).

The other fields may be changed. However, they do not all change at the same time.

E.g. in an ACK packet the sequence number may remain constant. It uses the copy of the last packet that was sent for each connection. A bit mask that indicates which fields were sent precedes these fields.

The sender sends only the fields that are changed.
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Changeable Fields
How the fields change?
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The difference between current and previous Packet ID is small (usually 1). The difference between current and previous sequence number is less than 216 (i.e. 2 bytes).

The differences in the changing fields are sent rather than the fields themselves.

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Compressed Packet Format

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Compressed Packet Format
The first byte is a bit mask that identifies which of the fields are actually changed. TCP Checksum of the original packet is located in the compressed header.
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An end-to-end integrity check is still valid. Used for error detection and resynchronization.

Connection Number may be omitted if is identical to the Connection Number of the previous packet sent.

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Packet Types
The sender can send 3 types of packets. The packet type is stored in the header of the link layer protocol. TYPE_IP - regular uncompressed IP packets. UNCOMPRESSED_TCP - identical to the original packets except the IP protocol field is replaced with a connection number.
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Use to (re-)synchronizes the receiver. Use to send a TCP packet of new connection.


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The Compression System
IP packets go through the compressor.
TYPE_IP is selected if
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Non-TCP packets. IP fragments. The connection is new. One of the constant fields has changed. The delta in one of the changeable fields is large or negative.

UNCOMPRESSED_TCP is selected if
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Otherwise, COMPRESSED_TCP is selected.

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The Compression System
The decompressor checks the type of incoming packets. TYPE_IP packets are simply pass through. UNCOMPRESSED_TCP packets
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The connection number is extracted and used as an index in the array of saved headers. The header is copied into the array. The TCP protocol number is restored to the protocol field in the IP header.


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The last packet from that connection is extracted from the array of saved header using the connection number. The compressed header is used to restore a new TCP/IP header and construct a new TCP/IP packet. The new header is stored in the array.

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Error detection
Error detection should be provided by layer-II.
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Transmission errors are detected by the egress point of the line. In such a case all following “COMPRESSED_TCP “ packets without a connection number is discarded, until a “TYPE_IP” or “UNCOMPRESSED_TCP” appears.

Problem: a missed packet cannot be detected by the egress node of the line.

This can corrupt all the packets that follow.

TCP checksum is not compressed, hence end-to-end reliability is provided.

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IP/UDP/RTP Headers Compression
Real-time Transport Protocol (RFC 1889) provides network transport functions for real-time applications such as audio and video.
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Simple Multicast Audio Conference Audio and Video Conference

• Audio and video are transmitted in separate RTP sessions. IP, UDP and RTP are typically used in conjunction when delivering real-time traffic. The three headers contain 40 bytes. When the payload is small (e.g. VoIP) it is desirable to compress the three headers - Compressed RTP (CRTP).

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IP/UDP/RTP Headers


| Source Port
| Length |V | | |P|X| CC |M| PT

| Destination Port
| Checksum | Sequence Number Time Stamp Synchronization Source Identifier

| + + +

+-------------------------------+--------------------------------+ +---+-+-+-------+-+-------------+--------------------------------+ +----------------------------------------------------------------+ +----------------------------------------------------------------+ +----------------------------------------------------------------+


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RTP header fields
version (V) - version of RTP (2 bits).
extension (X) – set to 1 if the fixed header is followed by exactly one header extension (1 bit). CSRC count (CC) - contains the number of CSRC identifiers that follow the fixed header (4 bits ). payload type (PT) - the format of the RTP payload (7 bits ). sequence number (16 bits). timestamp – the time sampling of the first octet in the packet (32 bits).

increments by one for each RTP data packet sent. receiver matches the video with corresponding audio data using timestamp. receiver may need to synchronize data from several sources.

SSRC - the synchronization source (32 bits).

CSRC list - the contributing sources for the payload contained in this packet. The number of identifiers is given by the CC field (up to 15 items, 32 bits each).

Set by mixer upon re-synchronizing incoming audio from different sources

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Compressed RTP (RFC 2508).
Headers compression is done in the same way as IP/TCP compression.
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Constant fields are removed. Differential coding of the changeable fields. Constant first order differences are not sent (Packet ID, Time Stamp). When the second-order difference is not zero, the magnitude of the change is usually much smaller than the full number of bits in the field. So the new first order difference is transmitted.

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A connection is identified by: source IP and port, destination IP and port, synchronization source of the RTP. The identifier serves as an index to a table of stored session contexts.
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Compressible fields
Constant fields
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SSRC identifier is constant in a given context CC and CSRC list are mostly unchanged. sequence number will increment by one for each packet.

Constant difference


• For audio - increment by number of sample periods. • For video - change on the first packet of each frame. Redundant fields:

UDP length field. UDP checksum sometimes set to zero and not calculated.

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Packet formats
FULL_HEADER - all headers are uncompressed.

COMPRESSED_RTP – IP/UDP/RTP headers are compressed.
COMPRESSED_UDP – compressed IP/UDP headers followed by RTP uncompressed.

CONTEXT_STATE - packet sent from the decompressor to the compressor indicating a list of context IDs with lost synchronization.

Sent on point-to-point link, no need in IP header.


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Compressed RTP header
M = RTP marker bit S = RTP sequence number T = RTP timestamp I = IPv4 packet ID L = RTP CSRC count and list
+-------------------------------+ | msb of session context ID | +-------------------------------+ | lsb of session context ID | +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+ | M | S | T | I | link sequence | +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+ | | + UDP checksum + | | +-------------------------------+ | M'| S'| T'| I'| CC | +-------------------------------+ | delta IPv4 ID | +-------------------------------+ | delta RTP sequence | +-------------------------------+ | delta RTP timestamp | +-------------------------------+ | | | CSRC list | +-------------------------------+ | | / RTP data / +-------------------------------+ 21

Last bits of the sequence number help loss detection.
If MSTI bits set, then the real values with CC will follow and CSRC list will fully appear.

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Error Detection and Recovery
Relies on a layer II error detection. A 4-bit sequence number is added to every compressed packet.

Used to detect a missing packet.

In case the receiver detects a corrupted or missing packet, it requests the sender to retransmit the packet.

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