The Network Effects of Prefetching
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Citation (published version)Crovella, Mark; Barford, Paul. "The Network Effects of Prefetching", Technical Report BUCS-1997-002, Computer Science Department, Boston University, February 7, 1997. [Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/2144/1603]
Prefetching has been shown to be an effective technique for reducing user perceived latency in distributed systems. In this paper we show that even when prefetching adds no extra traffic to the network, it can have serious negative performance effects. Straightforward approaches to prefetching increase the burstiness of individual sources, leading to increased average queue sizes in network switches. However, we also show that applications can avoid the undesirable queueing effects of prefetching. In fact, we show that applications employing prefetching can significantly improve network performance, to a level much better than that obtained without any prefetching at all. This is because prefetching offers increased opportunities for traffic shaping that are not available in the absence of prefetching. Using a simple transport rate control mechanism, a prefetching application can modify its behavior from a distinctly ON/OFF entity to one whose data transfer rate changes less abruptly, while still delivering all data in advance of the user's actual requests.