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Performance Analysis of A-MPDU and A-MSDU Aggregation in IEEE 802.

11n
Boris Ginzburg
Intel Corporation, Haifa, Israel Email: boris.ginzburg@intel.com

Alex Kesselman
Intel Corporation, Haifa, Israel Email: alex.kesselman@intel.com

Abstract With recent improvements in physical layer (PHY) techniques, the achievable capacity for wireless LANs (WLANs) has grown signicantly. However, the overhead of IEEE 802.11 MAC layer has limited the actual throughput of a WLAN. AMPDU aggregation suggested in IEEE 802.11n draft is a key enhancement reducing the protocol timing overheads that enables aggregation of several MAC-level protocol data units (MPDUs) into a single PHY protocol data unit (PPDU). Another aggregation scheme proposed in IEEE 802.11n is A-MSDU aggregation, which allows several MAC-level service data units (MSDUs) to be aggregated into a single MPDU. In this work we present a novel analytic model for estimating the performance of a 802.11n high throughput wireless link between a station and an Access Point (AP). We consider a 2 2 MIMO system and investigate how the MAC goodput under TCP and UDP trafc is affected by the aggregation size, packet error rate and PHY settings. Our results demonstrate that for UDP trafc, A-MPDU aggregation allows to achieve a high channel utilization of 95% in the ideal case while without aggregation the channel utilization is limited by just 33%. We also show that A-MPDU aggregation outperforms A-MSDU aggregation, whose performance considerably degrades for high packet error rates and high PHY rates.

I. I NTRODUCTION With improvements in physical layer (PHY) techniques such as the orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) modulation technique and multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) antenna technology, the achievable capacity for WLANs has grown signicantly. However, the overheads of media access control (MAC) have limited the actual throughput. In todays 802.11 WLANs control frames are transmitted at a basic rate while the transmission time of physical headers is xed. As a result, the 802.11 WLAN efciency is severely compromised as the data rate increases since the throughput is increasingly dominated by these overheads for high data rates. Therefore, both reducing MAC overheads and pursuing higher data rates are necessary for high performance WLANs. In IEEE 802.11e data aggregation is implemented through controlled frame-bursting (CFB) and the block ACK scheme. Such aggregation schemes benet from amortizing the control overhead over multiple data packets. Performance of frame aggregation schemes is studied in [7], [5]. The works of [2], [8] derive analytical models of distributed coordination function. The performance of block ACK schemes is analyzed in [4], [6], [9]. TCP and UDP performance analysis over a 802.11 WLAN appears in [3], [10]. IEEE 802.11n [1] is a new WLAN standard that provides both PHY and MAC enhancements to support high data

rates over 100Mbps and up to 600Mbps. The main PHY technologies of IEEE 802.11n are MIMO and adaptive channel coding. One key MAC-layer enhancement reducing the protocol timing overheads is the A-MPDU aggregation scheme, which enables aggregation of several MAC-level protocoldata units (MPDUs) into a single PHY-layer protocol data unit (PPDU). An Aggregated MPDU (A-MPDU) consists of a number of MPDU delimiters each followed by an MPDU. Another aggregation scheme proposed in IEEE 802.11n is AMSDU aggregation, which allows several MAC-level service data units (MSDUs) to be aggregated into a single MPDU. In A-MSDU aggregation, multiple payload frames share not just the same PHY, but also the same MAC header. While AMPDU structure can be recovered when one or more MPDU delimiters are received with errors, an A-MSDU aggregate fails as a whole even if just one of the enclosed MSDUs contains bit errors. Our model. In this work, we focus on the MAC efciency improvements in IEEE 802.11n. We present an analytical framework for estimating the maximum throughput of 802.11n using A-MPDU and A-MSDU aggregation schemes. To the best of our knowledge, we are the rst to perform analysis that (i) studies novel A-MPDU and A-MSDU aggregation techniques, (ii) considers the goodput of MAC not counting retransmissions and (iii) takes into account collisions of TCP data packets with TCP ACKs. We consider a 2 2 MIMO system. The maximum throughput is achieved under the bestcase scenario when there is an Access Point (AP) and only one active station, which always has frames to send. While aggregation reduces control overhead, the actual benets depend to a large extent on the channel conditions and MAC settings. We study how the aggregation size, the packet error rate and the PHY settings affect the MAC goodput. Our results. We show that A-MPDU aggregation allows to achieve a high channel utilization in IEEE 802.11n WLAN. In particular, the best-case channel utilization for the mandatory PHY rate of 130Mbps is 84% under TCP and 95% under UDP trafc. For the optional PHY rate of 300Mbps, the maximum channel utilization is slightly worse, that is 78% under TCP and 91% under UDP trafc. For A-MSDU aggregation, the corresponding TCP and UDP channel utilization is 51% and 71% for the mandatory PHY rate of 130Mbps and 32% and 53% for the optional PHY rate of 300Mbps. Thus, A-MPDU aggregation by far outperforms A-MSDU aggregation. We also

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demonstrate that the performance of A-MSDU aggregation signicantly degrades for high packet error rates and high PHY rates. Organization. The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section II contains the model description. The analysis of ideal and noisy channel conditions appears in Section III and Section IV, respectively. We conclude with Section V. II. M ODEL D ESCRIPTION We analyze the throughput of IEEE 802.11n under the basic Distributed Coordination Function (DCF). In the maximum throughput setup there is an AP and only one active STA which always has backlogged frames to transmit. A STA transmits a frame after it has observed an idle medium for a distributed inter-frame space (DIFS) plus a back-off duration. When the STA transmits an aggregation, the AP responds with immediate implicit block ACK or a regular ACK after shortest inter-frame space (SIFS). In our analysis we assume that each frame is retransmitted until it is successfully received. We also assume that failures of frames within an A-MPDU are not correlated. The goodput is the average rate of the payload delivered by the link layer not counting retransmissions. We dene the channel utilization as the ratio between the goodput and the PHY rate. We also call the number of frames within an aggregation the aggregation size. We consider data frames of size 1500 bytes, which is a typical MTU size in the Internet. The maximum number of frames in an A-MPDU is 64. The maximal A-MSDU size is 7935 bytes and thus it may contain at most 5 frames. We assume that PHY headers and block ACK frames are always transmitted successfully given the fact that they are transmitted at the basic and hence the safest rate. We also assume that TCP ACKs are always transmitted successfully because of their small size and that the TCP Delayed Acknowledgements scheme is activated and one ACK is sent for every other received data segment (this is the default conguration in most platforms). We study the following 802.11n PHY settings in 5Ghz band. Mandatory: Bandwidth 20MHz, Modulation Coding Scheme 64-QAM 5/6, Long Guard Interval (800ns), Physical Rate 130Mbps. Optional: Bandwidth 40MHz, Modulation Coding Scheme 64-QAM 5/6, Short Guard Interval (400ns), Physical Rate 300Mbps. The variables used in the analysis are presented in Table I. III. I DEAL C HANNEL A NALYSIS A. A-MPDU Aggregation 1) UDP Trafc: Let Tblk be the time required to transmit an A-MPDU of K data frames and receive a block ACK: Tblk = Tphy + K(Tap + Tdata ) + SIF S + Tlphy + Tback . We get that the ideal goodput under UDP is IdealU DP Gdpt = KLdata DIF S+Tbo +Tblk , where K Ldata is the payload carried in K frames and DIF S + Tbo is the channel access time under DCF.

2) TCP Trafc: Remember that K/2 TCP ACKs are generated for K TCP data packets under the TCP Delayed Acknowledgements scheme. Let Tbe be the extra time required to transmit an A-MPDU of K/2 TCP ACKs: Tbe = Tphy + K(Tap +Ttcpack ) + SIF S + Tlphy + Tback . 2 We have that TCP ACKs collide with TCP data packets with probability of at most c = 1/CWmin (approximately 6%). That is due to the fact that both the AP and STA select the 2 same slot in the contention period with probability 1/CWmin and there are CWmin such slots. Note that after a successful transmission, the contention window is decreased to CWmin and the probability of consecutive collisions is rather small. Specically, the probability of n-th subsequent collision is 1/(CWmin 2n ). We approximate the TCP throughput assuming a constant collision probability of 1/CWmin . The total time required to transmit an A-MPDU of K data frames and an A-MPDU of K/2 TCP ACKs is 2(DIF S + Tbo ) + Tblk + Tbe . The expected number of retransmission attempts before a successful transmission is 1/(1 c). Therefore, the ideal goodput KLdata (1c) under TCP is IdealT CP Gdpt = 2(DIF S+Tbo )+Tblk +Tbe . 3) Numerical Results: The channel utilization as a function of the aggregation size for the mandatory and optional PHY rates is presented on Figure 1 and Figure 2, respectively. Note that the channel utilization improves as K increases. However, starting from K = 32 the channel utilization stays almost at. The maximum channel utilization for the mandatory PHY rate of 130Mbps is 84% under TCP and 95% under UDP trafc. For the optional PHY rate of 300Mbps, the maximum channel utilization is slightly worse, that is 78% under TCP and 91% under UDP trafc. The performance difference between the mandatory and optional PHY rates is because xed MAC
TABLE I VARIABLES USED IN THE ANALYSIS : Name R Rbasic K W Tphy Tlphy Lmac Las Ldata Lack Lback Ltcpack Tmac Tap Tas Tdata Tack Tback Ttcpack CWmin Tslot SIF S DIF S p c Tbo Description physical rate = 130/300 Mbits/sec basic physical rate = 54 Mbits/sec maximum A-MPDU size receiver window size = 64 mixed mode PHY preamble and header time = 44.8us legacy PHY preamble and header time (802.11a) = 24us MAC overhead = 34 bytes = 272 bits MAC overhead in A-MSDU = 14 bytes = 112 bits data frame length = 1500 bytes = 12000 bits ACK frame length = 14 bytes = 112 bits block ACK frame length = 30 bytes = 240 bits TCP ACK length = 40 bytes = 320 bits MAC header time = Lmac /R A-MPDU MAC header time = (Lmac + 4)/R A-MSDU MAC header time = Las /R data frame time = Ldata /R ACK frame time = Lack /Rbasic block ACK frame time = Lback /Rbasic TCP ACK time = Ltcpack /R minimum contention window size = 15 slot time = 9us shortest inter-frame space = 16us distributed inter-frame space = 34us packet error rate collision probability average back-off interval = (CWmin 1) Tslot /2

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PHY rate = 130Mbps, Channel width = 20Mhz, Frame size = 1500 bytes 1 TCP UDP 0.9
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A-MSDU ideal channel utilization for R = 130Mbps.


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A-MPDU ideal channel utilization for R= 300Mbps.

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A-MSDU ideal channel utilization for R = 300Mbps.

overheads constitute a larger fraction of the channel access time for higher PHY rates. Observe that without aggregation, the channel utilization is limited by 18% and 33% under TCP and UDP trafc, respectively. B. A-MSDU Aggregation 1) UDP Trafc: Let Tf rm be the time required to transmit an A-MSDU of K data frames and receive an ACK: Tf rm = Tphy +Tmac +K(Tas +Tdata )+SIF S +Tlphy +Tack . We obtain that the ideal goodput under UDP is IdealU DP Gdpt = KLdata DIF S+Tbo +Tf rm . 2) TCP Trafc: Let Tf e be the extra time required to transmit an A-MSDU of K/2 TCP ACKs: Tf e = Tphy + K(Tas +Ttcpack ) Tmac + + SIF S + Tlphy + Tack . As in 2 the previous section, we approximate the TCP throughput assuming a constant collision probability of 1/CWmin . The overall time required to transmit an A-MSDU of K data frames and an A-MSDU of K/2 TCP ACKs is 2(DIF S + Tbo ) + Tf rm + Tf e . Therefore, the ideal goodput under TCP is KLdata (1c) IdealT CP Gdpt = 2(DIF S+Tbo )+Tf rm +Tf e , where 1/(1 c) is the expected number of retransmission attempts before a successful transmission. 3) Analysis of Results: The channel utilization as a function of the aggregation size for the mandatory and optional PHY rates is presented on Figure 3 and Figure 4, respectively. Observe that the channel utilization grows almost linearly as K increases. The maximum channel utilization for the mandatory

PHY rate of 130Mbps is 51% under TCP and 71% under UDP trafc. For the optional PHY rate of 300Mbps, the maximum channel utilization is much worse, that is 32% under TCP and 53% under UDP trafc. Note that the performance of AMSDU aggregation degrades signicantly for high PHY rates since MAC overheads are xed while the time required to transmit payload decreases. IV. N OISY C HANNEL A NALYSIS A. A-MPDU Aggregation We consider Selective Repeat ARQ retransmission scheme. 1) UDP Trafc: For an A-MPDU, let: X be the average number of new frames; Y be the average number of retransmitted frames and Z be the average span of sequence numbers. We assume that the positions of corrupt frames are uniformly distributed over the sending window. The probability that exactly i rst frames are transmitted successfully is (1p)i p, where p is the packet error rate. The expected sending window shift in this case is i Z/(X + Y ). Note that X is the expected sliding window shift after transmitting an A-MPDU. After performing some calculations, we get
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(X + Y 1)(1 p)X+Y +1 (X + Y )(1 p)X+Y + 1 p p(X + Y ) X+Y (1 p) Z,

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PHY rate = 130Mbps, Channel width = 20Mhz, Frame size = 1500 bytes 1 No Agg K=4 K=8 K=16 K=32 K=64 1

PHY rate = 130Mbps, Channel width = 20Mhz, Frame size = 1500 bytes No Agg K=4 K=8 K=16 K=32 K=64

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A-MPDU noisy channel utilization under UDP for R = 130Mbps.


PHY rate = 300Mbps, Channel width = 40Mhz, Frame size = 1500 bytes 1 No Agg K=4 K=8 K=16 K=32 K=64

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A-MPDU noisy channel utilization under TCP for R = 130Mbps.


PHY rate = 300Mbps, Channel width = 40Mhz, Frame size = 1500 bytes 1 No Agg K=4 K=8 K=16 K=32 K=64

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A-MPDU noisy channel utilization under UDP for R = 300Mbps.

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A-MPDU noisy channel utilization under TCP for R = 300Mbps.

where (1p)X+Y is the probability that all the frames within the A-MPDU have been transmitted successfully and Z is the expected window shift in this case. We can approximate Z as Z min(K/(1 p), W ) since the expected number of retransmissions of an individual frame is 1/(1 p) and the sending window size is an upper bound on the sequence numbers span within an A-MPDU. We can also approximate the average number of corrupt frames as Y p(X + Y ), because Y is also the expected number of retransmissions in the next A-MPDU. It follows that Y = pX/(1 p). Now we can numerically nd a value of X that best approximates Equality 1 subject to the constraint that X +Y K. Let Tbln be the time required to transmit an A-MPDU of X + Y data frames and receive a block ACK: Tbln = Tphy + (X + Y )(Tap + Tdata ) + SIF S + Tlphy + Tback . We get that the noisy goodput under UDP is N oisyU DP Gdpt = XLdata DIF S+Tbo +Tbln . The UDP channel utilization as a function of the packet error rate and the aggregation size for the mandatory and optional PHY rates is presented on Figure 5 and Figure 6, respectively. Note that the channel utilization deteriorates quickly for low error rates and more slowly for high error rates. Similarly to the ideal case, the performance of K = 64 is only slightly better than that of K = 32. 2) TCP Trafc: Let Tben be the extra time required to transmit an A-MPDU of X/2 TCP ACKs: Tbe = Tphy + X(Tap +Ttcpack ) + SIF S + Tlphy + Tback , where X is taken 2

from Equality 1. In this way, we get that the noisy goodput XLdata (1c) under TCP is N oisyT CP Gdpt = 2(DIF S+Tbo )+Tbln +Tben , where c = 1/CWmin . The TCP channel utilization as a function of the packet error rate and the aggregation size for the mandatory and optional PHY rates can be found on Figure 7 and Figure 8, respectively. Observe that TCP performance degrades faster for high packet error rates compared to that of UDP. B. A-MSDU Aggregation We have that the loss probability for an A-MSDU is pa = 1 (1 p)K . 1) UDP Trafc: The probability that the n-th subsequent transmission of an A-MSDU frame is successful is (1 pa ) pn1 . The expected number of retransmissions before the rst a success is i=1 (1 pa ) pi1 i = 1/(1pa ). We obtain a that the noisy goodput under UDP is N oisyU DP Gdpt = KLdata (1pa ) DIF S+Tbo +Tf rm . The UDP channel utilization as a function of the packet error rate and the aggregation size for the mandatory and optional PHY rates appears on Figure 9 and Figure 10, respectively. Remarkably, the channel utilization of large aggregations degrades faster and eventually becomes worse than that of smaller aggregations as the packet error rate increases. That is due to the fact that if just one of the aggregated frames contains bit errors, the other frames cannot be recovered.

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PHY rate = 130Mbps, Channel width = 20Mhz, Frame size = 1500 bytes 1 No Agg K=2 K=3 K=4 K=5 1

PHY rate = 300Mbps, Channel width = 40Mhz, Frame size = 1500 bytes No Agg K=2 K=3 K=4 K=5

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A-MSDU noisy channel utilization under UDP for R = 130Mbps.


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A-MSDU noisy channel utilization under TCP for R = 300Mbps.

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A-MSDU noisy channel utilization under UDP for R = 300Mbps.

2) TCP Trafc: Remember that in our model TCP ACKs are always transmitted successfully (except collisions). We have that the noisy goodput under TCP is N oisyT CP Gdpt = KLdata (1c) . The TCP channel utilization DIF S+Tbo +Tf rm as a function of the packet error rate and the aggregation size for the mandatory and optional PHY rates can be found on Figure 11 and Figure 12, respectively. V. C ONCLUDING R EMARKS In this work we develop an analytical framework to evaluate the maximum goodput of A-MPDU and A-MSDU aggregation in IEEE 802.11n high throughput WLAN. We consider a
PHY rate = 130Mbps, Channel width = 20Mhz, Frame size = 1500 bytes 1 No Agg K=2 K=3 K=4 K=5

2 2 MIMO system, which is currently being implemented by the main vendors. The numerical results show that for UDP trafc, A-MPDU aggregation allows to achieve a high channel utilization of 95% in the ideal case. At the same time, the channel utilization without aggregation is limited by 33%. We also demonstrate that A-MPDU aggregation outperforms A-MSDU aggregation, whose performance considerably degrades for high packet error rates and high PHY rates. Finally, we investigate how the aggregation size, the packet error rate and the PHY settings affect the MAC goodput under TCP and UDP trafc. Our analytic model can be useful for tuning 802.11n aggregation parameters for maximal performance. We plan to extend our results to multi-hop environments and perform practical experiments to complement the theoretical analysis. Acknowledgements. We are very grateful to Solomon Trainin and Adrian Stephens for their expert advise on IEEE 802.11n standard. R EFERENCES
[1] IEEE Computer Society, Wireless LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) specications: Enhancements for Higher Throughput, IEEE P802.11n-D2.0, February 2007. [2] G. Bianchi, Performance Analysis of the IEEE 802.11 DCF, IEEE Journal on Selected Area in Comm., Vol. 18, No. 3, March 2000. [3] R. Bruno, M. Conti, and E. Gregori, Throughput Analysis of UDP and TCP Flows in IEEE 802.11b WLANs: A Simple Model and Its Validation, Proceedings of FIRB-Perf05, pp. 54-63. [4] R. R. Choudhury, A. Chen, and S. Emeott An Analytical View of Data Aggregation in IEEE 802.11 LANs, Technical Report at Motorola Labs, 2005. [5] S. Kuppa and G. R. Dattatreya, Modeling and analysis of frame aggregation in unsaturated WLANs with Finite buffer stations, to appear in Proceedings of IEEE ICC06, pp. 967-972. [6] T. Li, Q. Ni, T. Turletti, and Y. Xiao. Performance Analysis of the IEEE 802.11e Block ACK Scheme in a Noisy Channel, Proceedings of IEEE BroadNets 2005. [7] C. Liu and A.P. Stephens, An analytic model for infrastructure WLAN capacity with bidirectional frame aggregation, Proceedings of IEEE WCNC05, pp. 113-119.. [8] Y.C. Tay and K.C. Chua, A Capacity Analysis for the IEEE 802.11 MAC Protocol, Wireless Networks, Vol. 7, pp. 159-171, 2001. [9] I. Tinnirello and S. Choi, Efciency Analysis of Burst Transmissions with Block ACK in Contention-Based 802.11e WLANs, Proceedings of IEEE ICC05, pp. 3455-3460. [10] A. De Vendictis, F. Vacirca and A. Baiocchi, Experimental Analysis of TCP and UDP Trafc Performance over Infra-structured 802.11b WLANs, Proceedings of the European Wireless 2005.

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A-MSDU noisy channel utilization under TCP for R = 130Mbps.

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