How Low Can You Go? A Limbo Dance for Low-Latency Network Functions

Sebastian Gallenmüller, Florian Wiedner, Johannes Naab, Georg Carle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Throughput is a commonly used performance indicator for networks. However, throughput may be considered insignificant if data is outdated or networks become unpredictable or unreliable. Critical services may even prioritize latency, predictability, and reliability at the expense of throughput to avoid detrimental effects on service operation. Latency, predictability, and reliability are distinct qualities realized in real-time systems. Real-time systems often require additional effort using non-standard interfaces, requiring customized software, or providing low throughput figures. This work picks up the challenge and investigates a single-server network function—a building block for end-to-end low-latency network applications. Assessing reliability and quantifying low latency is equally challenging, as sub-microsecond latency and 1 / 10 5 loss probability leave little room for error. Both, our measurement and the investigated platforms, rely on Linux running on off-the-shelf components. Our paper provides a comprehensive study on the impact of various components on latency and reliability, such as the central processing unit (CPU), the Linux Kernel, the network card, virtualization features, and the networking application itself. We chose Suricata, an intrusion prevention system (IPS), representing a widely deployed, typical network application as our primary subject of investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
JournalJournal of Network and Systems Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • DPDK
  • Intrusion prevention
  • Low latency
  • Network experiment
  • Ultra reliable


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