UDP + Brotli compressed messages on Microcontrollers: Sending more with less

I wanted to document on this paper my efforts on researching a way to send efficiently a lot of data to an ESP32.

One of the attractive features of UDP is that since it does not need to retransmit lost packets nor does it do any connection setup, sending data incurs less delay.

Wikibooks on Communications Networks UDP Protocol

That made it to be very good choice to transmit audio or video over the Web. But in my case-study, working for a LED stripe hardware controller in team with @hputzek, we where interested in high framerate transmission with the less possible bandwidth use.
I first researched in the direction of zlib (miniz) that is already in the ESP32 Core in it’s minimal expression. I could not get it to work since I did not know back then how to convert incoming bytes into their corresponding integer. But here is a solution if someones wants to try the miniz zlib compression/decompression out. It’s already on ESP32 Rom, so I guess it should have less overhead than any other decompression method.

Then looking forward other decompression methods Brotli come in the scene:

Brotli is a generic-purpose lossless compression algorithm that compresses data using a combination of a modern variant of the LZ77 algorithm, Huffman coding and 2nd order context modeling, with a great compression ratio

Brotli library definition

The goal was to send a byte for each Red, Green and Blue values of a 144 LEDS Stripe but with the same technology would be possible to send fast samples of complex sensor metrics.
Test samples are here available. Samples of 1.45 KB bytes where compressed with zlib (85 bytes) and with Brotli (57 Bytes) giving a clear win over Brotli compression. Speed of decompression was between 1 and 2 ms on the microprocessor.
Here is the udp-receive (server) test that I made just as a raw proof-of-concept:

Compiling that on a ESP32 it’s possible to test the uncompressed result via Serial sending with any tool (Like netcat) a brotli compressed bytestream to the ESP32 IP:

cat 144.txt.br |nc -w1 -u ESP_IP_ADDRESS 1234

Check also the tests/udp-receive branch for a more advanced example using xTaskCreatePinnedToCore. Seeing this work made us choice Brotli as a decompressor and UDP as transport protocol. Thanks to @bitluni for your suggestion last weekend.

This a sample of the result of reading a fast UDP stream of compressed bytes and sending the output to an addressable Led stripe.

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