An ideal datacenter network should provide several properties, including low median and tail latency, high utilization (throughput), fair allocation of network resources between users or applications, deadline-aware scheduling, and congestion (loss) avoidance. Current datacenter networks inherit the principles that went into the design of the Internet, where packet transmission and path selection decisions are distributed among the endpoints and routers. Instead, we propose that each sender should delegate control—to a centralized arbiter—of when each packet should be transmitted and what path it should follow.
This paper describes Fastpass, a datacenter network architecture built using this principle. Fastpass incorporates two fast algorithms: the first determines the time at which each packet should be transmitted, while the second determines the path to use for that packet. In addition, Fastpass uses an efficient protocol between the endpoints and the arbiter and an arbiter replication strategy for fault-tolerant failover. We deployed and evaluated Fastpass in a portion of Facebook’s datacenter network. Our results show that Fastpass achieves high throughput comparable to current networks at a 240x reduction is queue lengths (4.35 Mbytes reducing to 18 Kbytes), achieves much fairer and consistent flow throughputs than the baseline TCP (5200x reduction in the standard deviation of per-flow throughput with five concurrent connections), scalability from 1 to 8 cores in the arbiter implementation with the ability to schedule 2.21 Terabits/s of traffic in software on eight cores, and a 2.5x reduction in the number of TCP retransmissions in a latency-sensitive service at Facebook.