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IPv6 Source Routing for ultralow Latency

Document Type Active Internet-Draft (individual)
Authors Andreas Foglar , Mike Parker , Theodoros Rokkas , Mikhail Khokhlov
Last updated 2022-11-20
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Routing Area Working Group                         A. Foglar, InnoRoute
INTERNET-DRAFT                                     M. Parker, Uni Essex
Intended status: EXPERIMENTAL                      T. Rokkas, Incites
                                                   M. Khokhlov, IP Tek
Expires: May 19, 2023                              November 20, 2022 

          IPv6 Source Routing for ultralow Latency


  This Internet-Draft describes a hierarchical addressing scheme 
  for IPv6, intentionally very much simplified to allow for ultralow 
  latency source routing experimentation using simple forwarding 
  nodes. Research groups evaluate achievable latency reduction for
  special applications such as radio access networks, industrial net-
  works or other networks requiring very low latency. 
Status of This Memo

  This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
  provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.
  Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
  Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
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  Drafts is at
  Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
  and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
  time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
  material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

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  Copyright (c) 2019 IETF Trust and the persons identified as 
  the document authors. All rights reserved.
  This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
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  ( in effect on the date of
  publication of this document.  Please review these documents
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  described in the Simplified BSD License.
Revision Note for Version 02

  Reference to experimental verification of the concept is added in the
  section "Acknowledgements".  

Revision Note for Version 03

  Section 6 about Security Considerations has been inserted. 

Revision Note for Version 04

  Section 7 about Redundancy has been inserted.

 Revision Note for Version 05
  Section 8 about IANA Considerations added.
Revision Note for Version 06

  Section 8 about IANA Considerations updated.
Revision Note for Version 07

  Section 6 about Security Considerations improved.
Revision Note for Version 08

  Soome typos corrected

Revision Note for Version 09

  Improved address generation and ITU-T section added at the end of the
  document. An additional author is added. 
Revision Note for Version 10

  Section 10 has been added describing a simple introduction scenario.
Revision Note for Version 11

  Section 11 has been added introducing administrative domains.
Revision Note for Version 12

  Section 12 has been added introducing Information Centric Networking
  over hierarchical routing network.

1. Introduction

  To achieve minimum latency the forwarding nodes must support 
  cut-through technology as opposed to the commonly used store-
  and-forward technology. Cut-through means, that the packet 
  header already leaves a node at the egress port while the tail 
  of the packet is still received at the ingress port. This 
  short time does not allow complex routing decisions. 

  Therefore, a very simple routing address field structure is 
  specified below. It should limit the complexity of the 
  forwarding node used in the experiments. Therefore, in this 
  text the term "forwarding node" is used instead of "router", 
  although the device is operating in OSI Layer 3 and accordingly
  executes router functions such as decrementing the hop limit field.

2. IPv6 address prefix structure
  The following proposal uses the 64-bit IPv6 address prefix.

Each forwarding node has up to 16 ports and hence needs 4 bits 
  of the address field to decide to which port a packet should 
  be forwarded. The 64-bit prefix is divided into 16 sub-fields 
  of 4 bit, defining up to 16 hierarchy levels. A forwarding 
  node is configured manually to which of the sub-fields it should
  evaluate for the forwarding decision. 
  A number n of leading 4-bit fields cannot be used for forwarding 
  decisions, but must have a special value to indicate the 
  'escape prefix' of the experimental forwarding mode. 
  The 64-bit prefix of the IPv6 address has this structure:
  | n x 4-bit escape prefix |(16-n) x 4-bit address fields |
  The first 4-bit field following the escape prefix has the 
  highest hierarchy level, the last 4-bit field has the lowest 
  hierarchy level.

3. Forwarding node behavior

  The forwarding node has up to 16 downlink ports and at least 
  one uplink port. Typically, the forwarding nodes are arranged 
  in a regular tree structure with one top node, up to 16 nodes 
  in the second hierarchy, up to 256 nodes in the third hierarchy 
  and so on for up to 16-n hierarchies.
  A forwarding node must be configured to operate at a certain 
  position in the hierarchical network. For example, at third 
  hierarchy level, branch 4 of the first hierarchy and branch 12 
  of the second hierarchy. 
  The behavior of each forwarding node is depending on the 
  position of a node in a hierarchical network. For all 
  positions, the first step is to check the escape prefix. Only 
  packets with matching escape prefix are forwarded. 

  The top forwarding node with the highest hierarchy level 
  evaluates the first 4-bit field following the n x 4-bit escape 
  prefix. The value of the evaluation field determines the 
  output port of the packet. The remaining fields are don't 
  | escape prefix | 4-bit | (16-n-1) x 4-bit |
  <  mandatory   > <eval.> <   don't care   > 
  A forwarding node in a lower hierarchy first checks if the 4-
  bit fields preceding the evaluation field match the configured 
  value. In case of match the value of the configured evaluation 
  field of the packet is used as downlink port number where the 
  packet is forwarded. The remaining 4-bit fields are ignored. 
  In case of mismatch the packet is forwarded to the uplink 
  | escape prefix | m x 4-bit | 4-bit | (16-n-m-1) x 4-bit |
  <  mandatory   > <  match  > <eval.> <   don't care     >
  The parameter m indicates the hierarchy level with m=0 
  denoting the highest hierarchy.

Hence, when a packet enters a hierarchical network at the 
  lowest layer node it is forwarded in uplink direction until it 
  reaches a node where the m x 4-bit prefix matches the 
  configured value of the node. At latest, the highest-level 
  node will always match and forward the packet in the desired 
  downlink direction. 

4. Numerical values

  As mentioned, one pre-requisite of the simple forwarding 
  concept is to keep the complexity of the forwarding nodes low. 
  Also, the configuration of the nodes should be kept simple. In 
  particular, industrial networks are operated by persons who are 
  not experts in communication. Configurations should be 
  intuitively understandable by all without long explication. 
  Therefore, for the first experimental forwarding node the 
  number of downlink ports is limited to 10 with numbers 0...9. 16 
  digits at the front panel of the forwarding device show the 
  configuration. Use of classical 7-segment digits make the 
  limits of the configuration obvious. 
  As escape code, the first two digits are fixed to the value 
  "AF" (binary '10101111'). These two characters contrast with 
  the following numerical digits, so that the escape code can be 
  clearly differentiated from the following configuration. The 
  display uses the 'H' character instead of the 'X' the usual 
  term for a variable. It can be interpreted as 'hierarchy'.
  The H specifies the digit of the packet prefix which is 
  evaluated for forwarding. When the H is selected all lower 
  digits are automatically set to '-' to indicate the don't care 

  To make the configuration still more obvious it is recommended 
  to configure the local telephone number. With that measure, 
  every local experimentation has unique numbers and can 
  potentially be interconnected via tunnels (IP, MPLS, VPN etc.) 
  with other experimental setups. 
  The length of 14 digits allows sufficient in-house 
  hierarchies, even for industrial applications where forwarding 
  nodes interconnect large numbers of sensor controllers. 
  Inhouse installations would be structured for example in 
  building, floor, fabrication unit, machine - with one sensor 
  controller per machine. For the sake of simplicity numbers are 
  deliberately wasted, for example if the building has only 3 
  stories the digits 4...9 are unused.

5. Example configuration

  A company office in Munich with the telephone number +49-89-
  45241990 configures its local top-level forwarding node to:
  Note that for the sake of simplicity this simplified notation 
  is introduced here as alternative to the usual notation 

AF49:8945:2419:90:0/56. With the new notation, the cabling 
  staff people can immediately check the hierarchy location of 
  the forwarding node and connect the cables to the floors at 
  ports 0...3.
  The next hierarchy level is related to the floor. In case of a 
  3-story building only three next level forwarding nodes are 
  used with these configured values:
      AF49.8945.2419.900H at the ground level
      AF49.8945.2419.901H at the first floor
      AF49.8945.2419.902H at the second floor
      AF49.8945.2419.903H at the third floor.
  In each floor, up to 10 sensor nodes can be connected.
  Each of the sensor nodes can address several sensors/ 
  actuators addressed via the interface identifier contained in 
  the second part of the 128-bit IPv6 address.
  In the following a connection between sensors in this office to 
  other IoT equipment located in Essex University is described. The
  connection is realized with one additional forwarding node 
  installed at Essex University premises with the second level address


  This high level forwarding node can be used although the phone number
  of the researcher is +44 1206 872413, as long as there is no further 
  node in UK. 

  At downlink port 9 the 13th level forwarding node in Munich is con-
  nected via a Layer 2 link such as VLAN or SDH pipe or MPLS tunnel.
  The levels in between must not be populated by forwarding nodes as
  long as no other branch is needed at one of the two sides. If for
  example another site in Munich center must be connected one additio-
  nal forwarding node must be installed with the 5th level address 


  The small office mentioned above would be connected to downlink port
  4 while the new site would be connected at downlink port 1, the
  prefix for Munich center. The configuration is visualized in the
  Figure below.

  Essex (UK)                     Munich (DE)

  | AF4H.----.----.---- |
      |                \
      |                 ------ L2 Link ------
  |----------|                               \
  | IoT node |                    |----------U----------|  
  |----------|                    | AF49.89H-.----.---- |
                                     /       \
                                  ---         -----------
                                 /                       \
                     |----------U----------|   |----------U----------|
                     | AF49.891H.----.---- |   | AF49.8945.2419.90H- |
                     |-0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-|   |-0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-|
                                        | AF49.8945.5419.901H |   
  U = Uplink                                      |  
                                            | IoT node |
  Figure: Example Configuration with Node Addresses
6. Security Considerations

  In a hierarchical network as described above every forwarding node
  can easily check a part of the source address of the packets. Packets
  received from lower hierarchy must have a source address from that 
  hierarchy branch. A node checks this by comparing the prefix of the
  source address with its own node address and in addition checks if 
  the lower hierarchy digit matches the number of the receiving port. In
  case of mismatch of any comparison a packet is discarded silently. 
  The term 'silently' means that no further action is taken. In other 
  cases, for example when a packet is sent to a non-existing destination
  the packet could be discarded with a notification of the sender. This
  issue is for further study. 
  For example, the node AF49.89H-.----.---- in the Figure above expects
  that packets received from dowlink 1 have source addresses 
  AF49.891x.xxxx.xxxx with x is don't care. To that aim the node checks
  if the leading digits of the packet source address match with AF49.89
  and if the digit at the 'H' position matches with the receiving down-
  link port number.
  The lower the hierarchy level of a node the more digits are checked.
  In particular, the lowest hierarchy node checkes the complete prefix.
  For example, the Munich IoT node in the Figure above must send packets
  with the source address AF49.8945.5419.9014 to the higher level node. 
  It will discard packets with any other source address.
  Hence in upstream direction every higher level node will check a 

shorter part of the prefix. At the highest level the node
  AFH-.----.----.---- will check if the source address digit at the 'H'
  position matches with the receiving downlink port number.
  As packets with non-matching source address are discarded a receiver
  can rely on the correctness of the source adress. This feature pro-
  vides an orthogonal level of security to existing security measures
  such as password authentication and encryption. Anonymous hackers are
  not possible in such hierarchical networks. Receivers may use white-
  listing for address filtering. 
  To circumvent the source address check a hacker must break into the 
  network and insert packets in downstream direction. At the highest 
  level node the network is most vulnerable, as any address can be rea-
  ched from there. However, the higher a network node level the more
  sophisticated are the security means to avoid intrusion. 
  At lower level nodes an additional source address check in downstream
  direction may be implemented: at the uplink ports packets with source
  address from the own hierarchy branch are not expected. These packets
  should have been forwarded within the hierarchy branch. At the uplink
  ports these packets are discarded silently. 
  For example the node AF49.89H-.----.---- in the Figure above would not
  expect a packet with the source address AF49.8945.5419.9014 at an 
  uplink port. Hence this packet will be discarded. 

7. Redundancy

  The hierarchical structure implied by the addressing leads to the fact
  that node failures have more implications the higher the hierarchy of
  a node. Therefore, a node should be equipped with at least two redun-
  dant uplink ports. Each of them is connected to a next higher hierar-
  chy node, each of them having again at least two redundant uplinks. 

  In the case of nodes with ten downlinks and two uplinks the number of 
  nodes grows with the power of two and the number of terminals grows
  with the power of ten. A three-dimensional network is constructed
  with up to n hierarchies and up to 2^n redundancy planes. With 14
  hierarchies the number of redundancy planes becomes 16384. This number
  of top hierarchy nodes sounds very high, but distributed around the
  world would lead to well-balanced redundancy. 
  With two or more uplinks a routing feature emerges in the network. In 
  other words, each node has to take a routing decision in upstream di-
  rection, when forwarding packets to one the uplinks. This decision
  should be based on node-local information (autarkic) to avoid routing
  protocols. One option is learning prefixes from packets received in
  downstream direction. 

8. IANA Considerations

  In Q2/2021 a local field trial with ultra-low latency routing starts
  in Germany. A temporary /16 prefix "AF49" will be requested from the
  national registry or RIR. Later, extension of the field trial to other
  countries is planned. The other countries will apply for "AF33" for
  France, "AF44" for UK, "AF43" for Austria and so on. 

9. Numbering Considerations

  The international telephone number format and the country prefixes are
  standardized by Study Group 2 of ITU-T in the Recommendation E.164.
  This numbering, however, specifies several exceptions such as 800 or
  900 special calling codes. The numbering used for ultra-low according
  to this document shall have no exception at all. Hence, in future the
  Study Group 2 could open a new Recommendation.
  When mapping a telephone number to IPv6 prefix one problem is the dif-
  ferent length of numbers. At the one side, telephone numbers according
  to E.164 can have up to 15 digits and would not fit into the remaining
  14 digits in case of a 2-digit escape prefix. A future ITU-T numbering
  recommendation could deal with that problem. At the other side, some
  private phone numbers are very short. For example, the city of Munich
  has numbers as short as +49-89-886757. Still, the private subscriber
  would get a /64 prefix. To solve this problem the solution is to fill
  the remaining part of the IPv6 prefix with 'F' digits:

  This rule has the advantage that the reverse process of converting an
  IPv6 prefix back to a telephone number always works. 

10. Introduction Scenario

  A possible introduction scenario is explored in Germany. It gives up 
  the ultra-low routing feature thus avoiding to build up the network
  with dedicted hardware routers. Instead, networked processors are 
  used as forwarding nodes. These can be rented at low monthly costs in
  data centers. 
  From the subscriber to the first node a WireGuard tunnel is set up.
  The tunnel encryption includes the source prefix of the subscriber, so
  that false prefixes are automatically discarded. The service can be
  booked at in Germany only i.e. for prefixes
  starting with AF49. 

11. Administrative Domains

  Forwarding nodes may be located in differet administrative domains. 
  In such case a contract is needed, where the domain holders grant each
  other the fulfillment of address checking.
  In upstream direction the domain holder of the lower hierarchy node 
  grants the correctness of all sub-addresses in its domain. For example
  an access network provider grants that all subscribers have the
  correct source address. 
  In case of breach of obligation, i.e. when source addresses are false,
  a possible measure could be the temporary disconnect of the respective
  administrative domain from the network.

12. ICN Consideration 

  The forwarding nodes mentioned in this text match almost perfectly to
  the Forwarding (capital F) node defined in RFC8793, Information-Cen-
  tric Networking (ICN): CCN and NDN Terminology. In ICN, forwarding 
  nodes forward interest packets towards data sources/ replica nodes and
  data   packets towards the requestor node. With hierarchical network 
  structure   the direction towards data source or replica node is up-
  stream, the direction towards the requestor is downstream. Hence, the 
  forwarding decision of the forwarding (lower case) nodes described in 
  this text is easy:
  - Interest packets are forwarded to uplink ports
  - Data packets are forwarded to downlink ports  
  By adding data cache to a forwarding node it becomes a replica node. 
13. Acknowledgements

  The authors would like to thank the consortium of the European 
  research project CHARISMA for the possibility to experiment. The
  description of the final demonstration is available for download:
13. Authors' Addresses

   Andreas Foglar
   InnoRoute GmbH
   Marsstr. 14a
   80335 Munich

   Mike Parker
   Wivenhoe Park, Colchester
   Essex, CO3 4HG
   United Kingdom

   Theodoros Rokkas 
   Incites S.A.R.L. 
   130, Route d' Arlon 
   Strassen L-8008 
   Mikhail Khokhlov
   IP Tek UG
   Dircksenstr. 50
   10178 Berlin
Foglar, Parker, Rokkas, Khokhlov               Expires May 19, 2023