This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant EIA-0130344 and the generous donations of Intel Corporation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or Intel.
Web servers -- Evaluation, Client/server computing, Interactive media
This paper describes the results of a 500 million packet trace of a popular on-line, multi-player, game server. The results show that the traffic behavior of this heavily loaded game server is highly predictable and can be attributed to the fact that current game designs target the saturation of the narrowest, last-mile link. Specifically, in order to maximize the interactivity of the game itself and to provide relatively uniform experiences between players playing over different network speeds, on-line games typically fix their usage requirements in such a way as to saturate the network link of their lowest speed players. While the traffic observed is highly predictable, the trace also indicates that these on-line games provide significant challenges to current network infrastructure. As a result of synchronous game logic requiring an extreme amount of interactivity, a close look at the trace reveals the presence of large, highly periodic, bursts of small packets. With such stringent demands on interactivity, routers must be designed with enough capacity to quickly route such bursts without delay. As current routers are designed for bulk data transfers with larger packets, a significant, concentrated deployment of on-line game servers will have the potential for overwhelming current networking equipment.
"Provisioning On-line Games: A Traffic Analysis of a Busy Counter-Strike Server," Wu-chang Feng, Francis Chang, Wu-Chi Feng, and Jonathan Walpole, OGI CSE Technical Report, CSE-02-005, May 15, 2002.