Image Stream Transfer Using Real-Time Transmission Protocol
Abstract: Images account for a significant and growing fraction of Web downloads. The traditional approach to transporting images uses TCP, which provides a generic reliable in-order byte-stream abstraction, but which is overly restrictive for image data. We analyze the progression of image quality at the receiver with time, and show that the in-order delivery abstraction provided by a TCP-based approach prevents the receiver application from processing and rendering portions of an image when they actually arrive. The end result is that an image is rendered in bursts interspersed with long idle times rather than smoothly. This paper describes the design, implementation, and evaluation of the image transport protocol (ITP) for image transmission over loss-prone congested or wireless networks. ITP improves user-perceived latency using application-level framing (ALF) and out-of-order application data unit (ADU) delivery, achieving significantly better interactive performance as measured by the evolution of peak signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR) with time at the receiver. ITP runs over UDP, incorporates receiver-driven selective reliability, uses the congestion manager (CM) to adapt to network congestion, and is customizable for specific image formats (e.g., JPEG and JPEG2000). ITP enables a variety of new receiver post-processing algorithms such as error concealment that further improve the interactivity and responsiveness of reconstructed images. Performance experiments using our implementation across a variety of loss conditions demonstrate the benefits of ITP in improving the interactivity of image downloads at the receiver.