Bufferbloat: Finally It Has A Name

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Jan 092011

I’ve seen an explosion of discussion in the last couple of days regarding something called Bufferbloat. It seems that Bell Labs’ Jim Gettys has been investigating poor network performance at his house, and has stumbled onto a network phenomenon that he’s termed bufferbloat. Essentially, bufferbloat is when networks are configured with excessive buffers which leads (perhaps counter-intuitively) to poor network performance.

Jim has written a series of blog posts as he has investigated this problem. You can find them all here. He freely admits that he’s not the first to have stumbled across this problem, though he certainly seems to have successfully coined the best term for it. Bufferbloat has in fact long been identified as an issue by those who build their own routers. I remember reading about the phenomenon years ago (though it did not have a name at the time) and avoiding bufferbloat has in fact been the cornerstone of my own home network configurations for over five years now.

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