Network Working Group S. Bradner
Request for Comments: 1944 Harvard University
Category: Informational J. McQuaid
Benchmarking Methodology for Network Interconnect Devices
Status of This Memo
This memo provides information for the Internet community. This memo
does not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of
this memo is unlimited.
This document discusses and defines a number of tests that may be
used to describe the performance characteristics of a network
interconnecting device. In addition to defining the tests this
document also describes specific formats for reporting the results of
the tests. Appendix A lists the tests and conditions that we believe
should be included for specific cases and gives additional
information about testing practices. Appendix B is a reference
listing of maximum frame rates to be used with specific frame sizes
on various media and Appendix C gives some examples of frame formats
to be used in testing.
Vendors often engage in "specsmanship" in an attempt to give their
products a better position in the marketplace. This often involves
"smoke & mirrors" to confuse the potential users of the products.
This document defines a specific set of tests that vendors can use to
measure and report the performance characteristics of network
devices. The results of these tests will provide the user comparable
data from different vendors with which to evaluate these devices.
A previous document, "Benchmarking Terminology for Network
Interconnect Devices" (RFC 1242), defined many of the terms that are
used in this document. The terminology document should be consulted
before attempting to make use of this document.
Bradner & McQuaid Informational [Page 1]
RFC 1944 Benchmarking Methodology May 1996
2. Real world
In producing this document the authors attempted to keep in mind the
requirement that apparatus to perform the described tests must
actually be built. We do not know of "off the shelf" equipment
available to implement all of the tests but it is our opinion that
such equipment can be constructed.
3. Tests to be run
There are a number of tests described in this document. Not all of
the tests apply to all types of devices under test (DUTs). Vendors
should perform all of the tests that can be supported by a specific
type of product. The authors understand that it will take a
considerable period of time to perform all of the recommended tests
nder all of the recommended conditions. We believe that the results
are worth the effort. Appendix A lists some of the tests and
conditions that we believe should be included for specific cases.
4. Evaluating the results
Performing all of the recommended tests will result in a great deal
of data. Much of this data will not apply to the evaluation of the
devices under each circumstance. For example, the rate at which a
router forwards IPX frames will be of little use in selecting a
router for an environment that does not (and will not) support that
protocol. Evaluating even that data which is relevant to a
particular network installation will require experience which may not
be readily available. Furthermore, selection of the tests to be run
and evaluation of the test data must be done with an understanding of
generally accepted testing practices regarding repeatability,
variance and statistical significance of small numbers of trials.
In this document, the words that are used to define the significance
of each particular requirement are capitalized. These words are:
* "MUST" This word, or the words "REQUIRED" and "SHALL" mean that
the item is an absolute requirement of the specification.
* "SHOULD" This word or the adjective "RECOMMENDED" means that there
may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to ignore this
item, but the full implications should be understood and the case
carefully weighed before choosing a different course.
* "MAY" This word or the adjective "OPTIONAL" means that this item
is truly optional. One vendor may choose to include the item because
Bradner & McQuaid Informational [Page 2]