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USENIX Symposium on Internet Technologies and Systems, 1997

Exploring the Bounds of Web Latency Reduction from Caching and Prefetching

Thomas M. Kroeger and Darrell D. E. Long
University of California, Santa Cruz
Jeffrey C. Mogul
Digital Equipment Corporation


Prefetching and caching are techniques commonly used in I/O systems to reduce latency. Many researchers have advocated the use of caching and prefetching to reduce latency in the Web. We derive several bounds on the performance improvements seen from these techniques, and then use traces of Web proxy activity taken at Digital Equipment Corporation to quantify these bounds.

We found that for these traces, local proxy caching could reduce latency by at best 26%, prefetching could reduce latency by at best 57%, and a combined caching and prefetching proxy could provide at best a 60% latency reduction. Furthermore, we found that how far in advance a prefetching algorithm was able to prefetch an object was a significant factor in its ability to reduce latency. We note that the latency reduction from caching is significantly limited by the rapid changes of objects in the Web. We conclude that for the workload studied caching offers moderate assistance in reducing latency. Prefetching can offer more than twice the improvement of caching but is still limited in its ability to reduce latency.

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