small packets

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I've been doing some traffic through ssh with -L or -R forwarding between
machines.  One thing I have been noticing is that the packet sizes are
smaller the typical when there is a continuous stream of data to send.
Perhaps what I'm seeing is that the application going over the forwarded
port, which is rsync in most cases, is itself chopping the data up.  But
I am wondering if there is anything ssh can offer to better optimize this.

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