Internet-Draft pim-rts October 2023
Eckert, et al. Expires 25 April 2024 [Page]
Intended Status:
T. Eckert, Ed.
Futurewei Technologies USA
M. Menth
University of Tuebingen
S. Lindner
University of Tuebingen

Stateless Multicast Replication with Segment Routed Recursive Tree Structures (RTS)


BIER provides stateless multicast in BIER domains using bitstrings to indicate receivers. BIER-TE extends BIER with tree engineering capabilities. Both suffer from scalability problems in large networks as bitsrings are of limited size so the BIER domains need to be subdivided using set identifiers so that possibly many packets need to be sent to reach all receivers of a multicast group within a subdomain.

This problem can be mitigated by encoding explicit multicast trees in packet headers with bitstrings that have only node-local significance. A drawback of this method is that any hop on the path needs to be encoded so that long paths consume lots of header space.

This document presents the idea of Segment Routed Recursive Tree Structures (RTS), a unifying approach to use either bitstrings with local node-local significance or SIDs with local or domain-wide significance to encode multicast trees in packet headers.

RTS, like RBS is intended to expand the applicability of deployment for stateless multicast replication beyond what BIER and BIER-TE support and expect: larger networks, less operational complexity, and utilization of more modern forwarding planes as those expected to be possible when BIER was designed (ca. 2010).

This document only specifies the forwarding plane but discusses possible architectural options, which are primarily determined through the future definition/mapping to encapsulation headers and controller-plane functions.

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 working documents as Internet-Drafts. The list of current Internet-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."

This Internet-Draft will expire on 25 April 2024.

1. Introduction

This draft expands on prior experimental work called "Recursive BitString Structure" (RBS) for stateless multicast replication with source routed data structures in the header of multicast data packets. Its changes and enhancements over RBS are a result from further scalability analysis and further matching against different use cases. Its proposed design also includes Proof of Concept work on Tofino programmable forwarding plane via P4.

Compared to RBS, RTS includes encoding options using either a per-hop bitstring or a per-hop list of segment identifiers (SID) to address next hops in the multicast tree.

RTS, like RBS is intended to expand the applicability of deployment for stateless multicast replication beyond what BIER and BIER-TE support and expect: larger networks, less operational setup complexity, and utilization of more flexible programmable forwarding planes as those expected to be possible when BIER was designed (ca. 2010). Unlike RBS, RTS does not limit itself to a design that is only based on the use of bitstrings but instead offers both bitstring and SID based addressing inside the recursive tree structure to support to allow more scalability for a wider range of use cases.

2. Overview

2.1. From BIER to RTS

2.1.1. Example topology and tree

          Src                         Src
           |                           ||
           R1                          R1
          /  \                       //  \\
         R2   R3                     R2   R3
        /  \ /  \                  //  \ /  \\
       R5  R6    R7                R5  R6    R7
      /  \ | \  /  \             // \\ | \ //  \\
    R8    R9  R10  R11          R8    R9  R10  R11
    |     |    |    |           ||    ||   ||   ||
   Rcv1 Rcv2  Rcv3 Rcv4        Rcv1 Rcv2  Rcv3 Rcv4

    Example Network            Example BIER-TE / RTS Tree,
      Topology               // and || indicate tree segments
Figure 1: Example topology and tree

The following explanations use above example topology in Figure 1 on the left, and example tree on the right.

2.1.2. IP Multicast

Assume a multicast packet is originated by Src and needs to be replicated and forwarded to be received by Rcv1...Rcv4. In IP Multicast with PIM multicast routing, router R1...R11 will have so-called PIM multicast tree state, especially the intermediate routers R2...R7. Whenever an IP Multicast router has multiple upstream routers to choose from, then the path election is based on routing RPF, so the routing protocol on R9 would need to route Src via R5, and R10 would need to route Src via R7 to arrive at the tree shown in the example.

2.1.3. BIER

In stateless multicast forwarding with Bit Index Explicit Replication (BIER), [RFC8279], a packet has a header with a bitstring, and each bit in the bitstring indicates one receiver side BIER router (BFER).

[R8:5 R9:9 R10:11 R11:17] =

Figure 2: Example BIER bitstring

In Figure 2, the term [Ri:bi...] (i=5,9,10,11; bi=5,9,11,17) indicates the routers "Ri" that have their associated bit in the bitstring number "bi" set. In this example, the bitstring is assumed to be 42 bit long. The actual length of bitstring supported depends on the header, such as [RFC8296] and implementation. The assignment of routers to bits in this example is random.

With BIER, there is no tree state in R2...R7, but the packet is forwarded from R2 across these routers based on those "destination" bits bi and information of the hop-by-hop IP routing protocol, e.g.: IS-IS or OSPF. The intervening routers traversed therefore also solely depend on that routing protocols routing table, and as in IP multicast, there is no guarantee that the shown intermediate hops in the example picture are chosen if, as shown there are multiple equal cost paths (e.g.: src via R10->R6->R3 and R10->R7->R3).

The header and hence bitstring size is a limiting factor for BIER and any source-routing. When the network becomes larger, not all receiver side routers or all links in the topology can be expressed by this number of bits. A network with 10,000 receivers for example would require at least 40 different bitstrings of 256 bits to represent all receiver routers with separate bits. In addition, the packet header needs to indicate which of those 40 bitstrings is contained in the packet header.

When then receiver routers in close proximity in the topology are assigned to different bitstrings, then the path to these receivers will need to carry multiple copies of the same packet payload, because each copy is required to carry a different bitstring. In the worst case, even as few as 40 receivers may require still 40 separate copies, as if unicast was used - because each of the 40 bits is represented in a different bitstring.

2.1.4. BIER-TE

In BIER with Tree Engineering (BIER-TE), [RFC9262], the bits in the bitstring do not only indicate the receiver side routers, but also the intermediate links in the topology, hence allowing to explicitly "engineer" the tree, for purposes such as load-splitting or bandwidth guarantees on the tree.

[R1R2:4 R2R5:10 R5R8:15 R5R9:16 R1R3:25 R3R7:32 R7R10:39 R7R11:42]

Figure 3: Example BIER-TE bitstring

In Figure 3, the list of [RxRy:bi...] indicates the set of bits needed to describe the tree in Figure 1, using the same notation as in Figure 2.

Each RxRy indicates one bit in the bitstring for the link Rx->Ry. The need to express every link in a topology as a separate bit makes scaling even more challenging and requiring more bitstrings to represent a network than BIER does, but in result of this representation, BIER-TE allows to explicitly steer copies along the engineered path, something requiredfor services that provide traffic engineering, or when non-equal-cost load splitting is required (without strict guarantees).

2.1.5. RTS

With Recursive Tree Structure (RTS) encoding, the concept of steered forwarding from BIER-TE is modified to actually encode the tree structure in the header as opposed to just one single "flat" bitstring out of a large number of such bitstrings (in a large network). For the same tree as above, the structure in the header will logically look as follows.

  RU  = SID { :[  NHi+ ] }
  NHi = SID
  SID = Ri

Example tree with SID list on R1:
  R1 :[ R2 :[ R5 :[ R8   ,R9   ]], R3 :[R7 :[R10,  R11]]]

  R1 replicates to neighbors R2, R3.
  R2 replicates to R5
  R3 replicates to R7

Encoding structure:
  1 byte SID always followed by
  1 byte length of recursive structure legth (":[" in example)
    If no recursive structure follows, length is 0.

Example SID list serialization (decimal):

  R1 :[ R2 :[ R5 :[ R8   ,R9   ]], R3 :[ R7 :[R10,  R11 ]]]
   |  |  |  |  |  |  | |   | |      | |   | |   | |   | |
   v  v  v  v  v  v  v v   v v      v v   v v   v v   v v

   ..........SIDs according to above example..........
   |     |     |     |     |        |     |     |     |
  01 16 02 06 05 04 08 00 09 00    03 06 07 04 10 00 11 00
      |     |     |    |     |        |     |     |     |
      ......................Length fields................

Tree with SID list on R2:
  R2 :[ R5 :[ R8   ,R9   ]]
Figure 4: Example RTS structure with SIDs

In the example the simplified RTS tree representation in Figure 4, Rx:[NH1,... NHn] indicates that Rx needs to replicate the packet to NH1, NH2 up to NHn. This [NH1,... NHn] list is called the SID-list. Each NH can again be a "recursive" structure Rx:[NH1',...NHn'], such as R5, or a leaf, such as R8, R9, Ro10, R11.

A simplified RTS serialization of this structure for the packet header is also shown: Each router Ri is represented by am 8-bit SID i. The length of the following SID list, :[NHi,...NHn], is also encoded in one byte. If no SID list follows, it is 00.

When a packet copy is made for a next-hop, only the relevant part of the structure is kept in the header as shown for R2.

Example tree with bitstrings on R1:
  BS1 :[ BS2 :[ BS5 :[ BS8,  BS9  ]], BS3  :[BS7 :[BS10, BS11]]]

Example bitstring serialization (decimal):

   ....List of next-hops indicated by the BitStrings.........
   |       |    |       |     |        |      |       |     |
  R2,R3   R5   R8,R9   Rcv   Rcv      R7     R10,R11 Rcv   Rcv
   |       |    |       |     |        |      |       |     |
  06 16   02 06 05 04  01 00 01 00    02  06 06  04  01 00 11 00
      |       |     |      |     |         |      |      |     |
      ......................Length fields.......................

Example tree with bitstrings on R2:
  BS2 :[ BS5 :[ BS8,  BS9  ]]
Figure 5: Example RTS structure with bitstrings

Instead of enumerating for each router the list of next-hop neigbors by their number (SID), RTS can also use a bitstring on each router, resulting in a potentially more compact encoding. Scalability comparison of the two encoding options is discussed later in the document. Unlike BIER/BIER-TE bitstrings, each of these bitstring will be small, as it only needs to indicate the direct neighbors of the router for which the bitstring is intended.

In Figure 5, the example tree is shown with this bitstring encoding, also simplified over the actual RTS encoding. BSi indicates the bitstring for Ri as an 8-bit bitstring. On R8, R9, R10, R11 this bitstring has bit 1 set, which is indicating that these routers should receive ("Rcv") and decapsulate the packet.

2.1.6. Summary and Benefits of RTS

In BIER for large networks, even small number of receivers may not fit into a single packet header, such as aforementioned when having 10,000 receiver routers with a bitstring size of 256. BIER always requires to process the whole bitstring, bit-by-bit, so longer bitstrings may cause issues in the ability of routers to process them, even if the actual length of the bitstring would fit into processable packet header memory in the router.

In BIER-TE, these problems are even more pronounced because the bitstrings now need to also carry bits for the intermediate node hops, which are necessary whenever the path for a packet need to be explicitly predetermined such as in traffic engineering and global network capacity optimization through non-equal cost load-balancing, which in unicast is also a prime reason for deployment of Segment Routing.

These scalability problems in BIER and BIER-TE can be reduced by intelligent allocation of bits to bitstrings, but this requires global coordination, and for best results good predictions of the most important required future multicast trees.

In RTS, no such network wide intelligent assignment of addresses is required, and any combination of receiver routers can be put into a single packet header as long as the maximum size of the header is not exceeded (including of course the intermediate nodes along the path).

Unlike Bier/BIER-TE, the RTS header can likely on many platforms be larger than a BIER/BIER-TE bitstring, because the router never needs to examine every bit in the header, but only the (local) bitstring or list of SIDs for this router itself and then for each copy to a neighbor, it only needs to copy the recursive structure for that neighbor. The only significant limit for RTS in processing is hence the maximum amount of bytes in a header that can be addressed.

3. Architecture

This version of the document does not specify an architecture for RTS.

The forwarding described in this document can allow different architectures, also depending on the encapsulation chosen. The following high-level architectural considerations and possible goals/benefits apply:

(A) If embedding RTS in an IP or IPv6 source-routing extension header, RTS can provide source-routing to eliminate stateful (IP) Multicast hop-by-hop tree building protocols such as PIM. This can be specifically attractive in use cases that previously used end-to-end IP Multicast without a more complex P/PE architecture, such as enterprises, industrial and other non-SP networks.

(B) The encoding of the RTS multicast tree in the packet header makes it natural to think about RTS providing a multicast "Segment Routing" architecture style service with stateless replication segments: Each recursive structure is an RTS segment.

This too can be a very attractive type of architecture to support, especially for networks that already use MPLS or IPv6 Segment Routing for unicast. Nevertheless, RTS can also be beneficial in SP networks not using unicast Segment Routing, and there are no dependencies for networks running RTS to also support unicast SR, other than sharing architecture concepts.

(C) RTS naturally aligns with many goals and benefits of BIER and even more so BIER-TE, which it could most easily supersede for better scalability and ease of operations.

In one possible option, the RTS header specified in this document could even replace the bitstring of the BIER [RFC8296] header, keeping all other aspects of BIER/BIER-TE reusable. In such an option, the architectural aspects of RTS would be derived and simplified from [RFC9262], similar to details described in [I-D.eckert-bier-cgm2-rbs-01].

4. Specification

4.1. RTS Encapsulation

| Encap    | RTS    | Next Proto |
| Header(s)| Header | Payload    |
Figure 6: RTS encapsulation

This document specifies the formatting and functionality of the "Recursive Tree Structure" (RTS) Header, which is assumed to be located in a packet between some Encap Header and some Next Proto / Payload.

The RTS header contains only elements to support replication to next-hops, not any element for forwarding to next-hop. This is left as a task for the Encap Header so that RTS can most easily be combined with potentially multiple alternative Encapsulation Header(s) for different type of network protocols or deployment use cases. Common Encap Headers will also require an Encap Header specific description of the total length of the RTS Header.

In a minimum (theoretical) example, RTS could be used on top of Ethernet with an ethertype of RTS+Payload, which indicates not only that an RTS Header follows, but also the type of the Next Proto Payload.

See the encap discussions in Section 5.2 for considerations regarding BIER or IPv6 extension headers as Encap Headers.

4.2. RTS Addressing

Addresses of next-hops to which RTS can replicata are called RTS Segment IDentifiers (SIDs). This is re-using the terminology established by [RFC8402] to be agnostic of the addressing of the routing underlay used for forwarding to next-hops and obtaining routing information for those routing underlay addresses. Specifying an encapsulation for RTS requires specifying how to map RTS SIDs to addresses of the addresses used by that (unicast) forwarding mechanism.

RTS SIDs are more accurately called RTS replication SIDs. They are assigned to RTS nodes. When a packet is directed to a particular RTS SID of an RTS node it means that that node needs then to process the RTS Header and perform replication according to it.

Using the SR terminology does not mean that RTS is constrained to be used with forwarding planes for which (unicast) SR mappings exist: IPv6 and MPLS, but it means that for other forwarding planes, mappings need to be defined. For example, when using RTS with [RFC8296] encapsulation, and hence BIER addressing, which is relying on 16-bit BFR-id addressing (especially the BFIR-id in the [RFC8296] header), then RTS SIDs need to map to these BFR-ids.

If instead RTS is to be deployed with (only) an IPv6 extension header as the Encap Header, then RTS SIDs need to be mapped to IPv6 SIDs.

This document uses three types of RTS SIDs to support three type of encoding of next-hops in an RTS Header: Global, Local and Local bitstring RTS SIDs.

All SIDs map to a unicast address or unicast SID of the node which the RTS SID addresses. This unicast address or SID is used in an Encap Header when sending an RTS packet to that node.

The type of an RTS SID determines the encoding and scope of the SID. Global and Local SIDs are used in the SID-list encoding option of the RTS header, Local bitstring SIDs are used in the local-bitstring encoding option of the RTS header.

Local and local bitstring RTS SID are valid only on an individual RTS node because they are both so compact in their encoding that only a limited number of RTS nodes can be addressed by them. Global RTS SIDs are valid on every RTS node: Using Global RTS SIDs allow the creator of an RTS Header to steer a packet copy from any RTS to any other RTS node. Local and local bitstring SIDs allow to only steer traffic across adjacencies predetermined by network and/or operator policy that allocates these SIDs, typically L2 adjcencies between RTS nodes.

  • Global RTS SIDs are 15 or 23 bit values depending on the size of the deployment.

  • Local RTS SIDs (or abbreviated local SIDs) are 7-bit values 1...127.

  • Local bitstring RTS SIDs (or abbreviated local bitstring SIDs) are values from 1.. (8*N). N is the size of the local bitstring for the node on which the local bitstring SID is allocated. The value of the local bitstring SID indicates the bit in that bitstring that needs to be set to indicate that a copy to the node addressed by the SID is needed.

Each RTS SID has flags associated with it that define encoding and processing of RTS packet when the SID is processed in the RTS header by an RTS node that is sending a packet to that SID.

  • The D)eliver Flag indicates that the node addressed by the SID needs to receive a copy of the packet by appropriate disposing of the RTS Header and processing of the Next Proto Payload.

  • The B)roadcast Flag indicates that the node addressed by the SID need to broadcast a copy of the packet to a preconfigured list of "all-leaf-neighbors".

  • The RU Flag indicates that the RTS header contains a recursive unit for the SID. When the node addressed by the SID receives the packet, it will act as a transit node and create copies to the nodes in that RU.

All Flags for a SID are processed by the node that is sending a copy to the addressed SID, but not the node which is addressed by the SID itself. That node is only the receiver of a copy of the packet. The sending node moifies the RTS Header accordingly for the Flags so that the addressed node when it receives the copy will have the Flags in the RTS Header. This is done so that network or operator policy can allocate from the limited local and local bitstring SID space only those (combination of) Flags for a node that are deemed necessary, as opposed to costing space in the RTS header if the Flags where all static part of the RTS Header encoding.

The network is expected to make SID information available to the creators of RTS headers so they can create one or more RTS headers to achieve the desired replication tree(s) for a payload. This includes:

  • Global SID for each node and the unicast address it maps to.

  • For each node its Local SIDs and local bitstring SIDs, its flags and the unicast address/SID it maps to.

  • For each node its "all-leaf-neighbors" list of global SIDs (see {#all-leaf-neighbors})

4.3. RTS Header

|        | RU0 (optional)                              |
| RTS    |+----------++--------++-------+     +-------+|
| Params ||RU0 Params|| RU-NH1 ||RU-NH2 | ....|RU-NHn ||
|        |+----------++--------++-------+     +-------+|
Figure 7: RTS Header

The RTS Header consists of the "RTS Params" field followed by an optional element called "Recursive Unit 0" (RU0).

When the RTS header is processed by a router, RU0 (if present) is composed of RU0 Params as well as 0 or more RU's, one for each next-hop. Each of these RUs is composed like RU0 itself from a RU Params field and potentially following RU-NHi fields.

RU Params differ depending on whether bitstring or SID encoding is chosen for the packet. These differences are explained later.

RTS Params:
 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
|R|D|B|S| Rsvd  |
Figure 8: RTS Params

The (R)U0 bit indicates whether a RU0 follows.

R=0: No RU0 follows. In this case, D MUST be 1, or else the packet is misformed.

R=1: An RU0 follows.

The (D)eliver bit indicates whether a copy of the packet should be delivered on this node by disposing the RTS Param and processing the next-header.

D=0: Do not deliver a copy of the packet.

D=1: Deliver a copy of the packet by disposing of the RTS Header and processing of the next-header.

The (B)roadcast bit determines if copies of the packet should be send to all "all leaf neighbors".

B=0: Do not send copies to all "all leaf neighbors"

B=1: Send copies to all "all leaf neighbors"

Creating copies because of the presence D, B and RU is orthogonal from each other and can happen in any combination. At least one copy needs to be indicated or else the packet is invalid.

The (S) bit indicates whether next-hops are encoded as a bitstring or SID-list. This flag is irrelevant if R=0 (because there is no bitstring nor SID-list).

S=0: next-hops are encoded as a bitstring

S=1: next-hops are encoded as a SID-list.

4.4. Creating and Receiving copies

RTS relies on unicast forwarding procedures using the Encap Header(s) to receive packets and send copies of packets. Every copy of a packet created, except for those that are for local reception by a node, is sent towards a unicast address/SID according to the RTS SID it addresses.

In summary, RTS Params is responsible for distinguishing the encoding of the following (optional) RU0 but also provides the bits used for processing by so-called "leaves" of an RTS tree, where packets need to be delivered and/or broadcast to all "leaf" neighbors (where they are then delivered).

4.5. Creating copies because of RTS Header D=1

When D=1 is encountered in the RTS Params, an (internal) copy of the packet is created in which the headers up to the RTS Header are disposed of according to the procedures specified for Encap Header(s) so that the Next Proto Payload after the RTS Header is processed.

4.6. Creating copies because of RTS Header B=1

When B=1 is set in the RTS Params, a list of uncast addresses/SIDs called the "all leaf neighbors" is used to create a separate copy of the packet for each element in that list. Each RTS node MAY have such a list.

For each packet copy made because of B=1, RU0 is removed, D is set to 1 and B to 0. Typically, the "all-leaf-neighbors" list is (auto-)configured with the list of RTS L2 neighbors that are known to be leaves of the RTS domain.

4.7. Creating copies because of the presence of an RU0

The common processing of RU0 to create copies, independent of whether SID-list or local bitstring list encoding of next-hops is used is as follows.

If R=1, then the RTS router examines the RU0 header and the following RU-NHi to determine the copies it needs to create.

When packet gets replicated to a NHi (1...n) with an RU-NHi, RU0 gets replaced by RU-NHi, all RU0 data before and after RU-NHi is skipped when rewriting the packet header for the copy to NHi. If a packet copy gets replicated to a next-hop not including an RU-NHi, the copy to that next-hop will not include any RU0. In this case, the Flags for the SID of that next-hop will include the D and/or B flag, and these flags will be accordingly set in the copy sent to the node so that it delivers and/or broadcasts the packet.

The following example shows how a copy made to NH2 will cause RU-NH2 to become RU0 on the copy of the packet made for NH2:

Original RTS Header at this hop:
|        | RU0                                         |
| RTS    |+--....----++--------++-------+     +-------+|
| Params ||RU0 Params|| RU-NH1 ||RU-NH2 | ....|RU-NHn ||
|        |+--....----++--------++-------+     +-------+|
|        |            |<........... RU List..........>||
         <--- discard -------->||<-copy>||<--discard-->|

Copy sent to NH2:
|        | RU0 (was RU-NH2 on prior hop)             |
| RTS    |+--....----+--------+-------+     +-------+|
| Params ||RU0 Params| RU-NH1'|RU-NH2'| ....|RU-NHn'||
|        |+--....----+--------+-------+     +-------+|
Figure 9: Example copy to NH2

4.7.1. Replication with SID-lists

|        | RU0 (present if RTS Params RU=1)           |
| RTS    |+...........+--------+-------+     +-------+|
| Params |. RU0 Params| RU-NH1 |RU-NH2 | ....|RU-NHn ||
| (S=1)  |+...........+--------+-------+     +-------+|
Figure 10: RTS Header with SID-list format (S=1)

This section describes replication with SID-list. The SID-list format is indicated by S=1 in the RTS Param field of the header.

|<--- RU-NHi RU Params ------>|<-- RU-NHi RU List --------->|
+-+-+-+ ... +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+....-+-+....-+     +-+....-+
|G| RU-NHi    |  RUlength     |RU-NH1'|RU-NH2'| ... |RU-NHn'|
| | SID       |  (optional)   |       |       |     |       |
+-+-+-+ ... +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+....-+-+....-+     +-+....-+
  |<-7/15/23->|               |<....... optional ..........>|
Figure 11: RU-NHi in SID-list format

When forwarding with the SID-list RTS format, RU Params in RU-NHi contains the SID of the router to which the RU is destined. If the SID indicates the RU flag, then the SID is followed by a RUlength field and a list of zero or more RU-NHi' as shown in Figure 11.

If the G)lobal bit of RU Params is 0, SID is a 7-bit long local RTS SID assigned by the router processing the RU0. If G is 1, SID is a global SID with a deployment chosen length of 23 or 17 bit, which needs to be common across all RTS nodes in the RTS domain.

Note that instead of being configurable, this length could also become a specification defined size in later versions of this document.

RU0 Params in the SID-list format is empty. It is stripped from RU-NHi when the packet copy is made so that that RU-NHi becomes RU0 of the packet copy.

The reason for stripping it is because it serves no purpose anymore. The Encap Header is responsible to deliver the packet to the correct RTS neighbor. Once that RTS neighbor receives the packet, it may not be able to interpret the SID, because that SID could be a local SID from the context of the sending node, and some forwarding planes like MPLS make it impossible to know who sent a packet.

Likewise, the RUlength field is redundant: It was only necessary when creating the packet copy, copying RU-NHi into the new packet copy towards NHi, based on RU-NHi's RUlength field. Once the new packet copy is created, it's Encap Header will need to have it's length field updates according to the new RU0 length, so this information does not need to be duplicated in the RU0 itself. Encoding and Allocation of SIDs

D), B) and RU) flags are properties of SIDs so that they do not unnecessarily require a fixed amount of bits in the encoding, when it is clear for specific nodes that they do not ever need all of the encodings. This is especially true, when local SIDs are used, or global SIDs with 15 bit in networks close that that amount of required SIDs.

When global SIDs use 23 bits instead, there should be enough SID space to allocate all 7 possible Flag combination for each node, maybe even by allocating the last 3 bit of the numeric SID representation, wasting one SID number for every node, just to have a simple addressing scheme.

| Type     | SID          | Flags | Encap data          |
| Global   | <Node1 SID1> |D      | <Unicast Address 1> |
| Global   | <Node1 SID2> |  B    | <Unicast Address 1> |
| Global   | <Node1 SID3> |D B    | <Unicast Address 1> |
| Global   | <Node1 SID4> |    RU | <Unicast Address 1> |
| Global   | <Node1 SID5> |D   RU | <Unicast Address 1> |
| Global   | <Node1 SID6> |  B RU | <Unicast Address 1> |
| Global   | <Node1 SID7> |D B RU | <Unicast Address 1> |
| <unused> | <unused>     | ...   | ...                 |
| Global   | <Node2 SID1> |D      | <Unicast Address 2> |
| Global   | <Node2 SID2> |  B    | <Unicast Address 2> |
| ...      | ...          | ...   | ...                 |
Figure 12: Global SID allocation example

For optimized allocation of SIDs, the following considerations may be used as a starting point to limit the numbrer of local SIDs requird for nodes.

A large number of nodes may be leaves in the network topology. For example, when PE routers are not in a ring, but only attached to two P routers, they are not assumed to carry transit traffic, and even the unicast routing protocol may accordingly be configured. In this case this PE never needs to have the RU flag, it would also not need a B flag, but all RTS packets arriving at it would solely be for delivering RTS packets. Hence such nodes only need a single SID with D flag.

P router attaching to such PE would need RU flag SIDs, they may not need D flag SIDs because typically they would not need to consume the service offered by RTS services themselves.

These P routers may benefit from B flag, where the list of "all-leaf-neighbors" are all the directly connected PE routers. In result they would need one SID with just RU, one with B/RU and one with just B. This third SID (B) could be avoided, in which case RTS Header encodings would need to add a zero-filled RUlength field for this node.

PE router in a ring would likely require only D, D/RU and RU given how they have no obvious neighbors to broadcast to, and where broadcasting would save significant encoding space.

In result, a common assignment scheme could use 1 SID per leaf PE, 2 per P router and 3 per ring-PE. Receiving and processing RTS packet with SID-list

An RTS node receiving an RTS packet with SID-list format creates copies because of D and B flags in the RTS Params field as described in Section 4.5 and Section 4.6.

If the RU flag is set and thus an RU0 is present, the node sequentially examines the RU-NHi, determining from its global and local SID table and the RU-NHi's SID its Flags and accordingly creates a copy and rewrites the copies RTS Params field as described before. The total number n of RU-NHi present is determined by the length of the RU0 field which needs to be determined by some Encap Header field.

The node determines the size of the RU-NHi from the SID and if the SID flags indicate the RU flag from the RUlength field. It subtracts the size of the RU-NHi from the remaining RU0 size. If this value is less than 0, this indicates an RTS header encoding error and processing of the packet SHOULD stop and an error be raised.

If RUlength is present and larger than 0, the node rewrites the RU0 field of the packet so that the RU-NHi becomes the RU0 of the packet copy - except for the RU Params field (G/SID, RUlength), which is also stripped. If the SID has no RU flag or RUlength is 0, then instead the packet copy will not contain any RU0, and the RU flag in the RTS Params is cleared for the packet copy. The node also updates the according Encap Header field for the size of the new RTS Header.

4.7.2. Replication with local bitstrings (RBS)

Replication with local bitstrings is an procedure in which RU do not have a SID, but where these SID are represented by a local bitstring in the RU0 Params. Each bit set that local bitstring indicates a neighbors local bitstring SID to which a copy is to be made, or a bit to indicate local deliver or broadcast operation. This encoding is equivalent to prior "Recursive BitString Structure" encoding, except that it is optimized for common processing with SID-lists and for P4 processing.

A local bitstring SID in the local bitstring only requires an RU-NHi if it has the RU flag.

The formatting is as follows.

|        | RU0                   |
| RTS    |+---------+-+- ... -+-+|
| Params ||RU Params| RU list   ||
| (S=0)  |+---------+--- ... -+-+|
Figure 13: RTS Header with local bitstring format (S=0)
|<--- RU Params ----------->|<--------- RU List --------->|
|0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7|<- N*8 --->|                             |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+- ... -+-+-+....-+-+....-+     +-+....-+
| RUlength      | local     |RU-NH1'|RU-NH2'| ... |RU-NHn'|
|               | bitstring |       |       |     |       |
+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+- ... -+-+-+....-+-+....-+     +-+....-+
  |<-7/15/23->|             |<....... optional ..........>|
Figure 14: RU (/RU0) with local bitstring format

RUlength indicates the length of the RU without the length of RUlength itself, which is 8 bit.

The length of local bitstring is configured on the node and MUST be a multiple of 8 bits. Different nodes can have different lengths.

Each bit in the BitString indicates a local bitstring SID. The considerations for those SIDs and what type SIDs (with which flags) to allocate are like those for local SIDs with the following changes in considerations. Receiving and processing RTS packet with local bitstring

An RTS node receiving an RTS packet with SID-list format creates copies because of D and B flags in the RTS Params field the same as for SID-list encoding.

If the RU flag is set in RTS params and thus an RU0 is present, the node sequentially examines the bits (local bitstring SIDs) of the local bitstring. If a bit is set and the local bitstring SID it represents has the RU flag, then RU list has an RU-NHi element for this SID, and that RU becomes the RU0 of the packet copy sent towards that neighbor. If the SDI has no RU flag, then no RU-NHi element for this SID is expected in SID list.

When creating a copy for a SID, the RTS header size is according updated in the appropriate Encap Header field, and the RTS Param fields D/B/RU are updated from the SID flags.

5. Discussion

5.1. Encoding and allocation of SIDs for delivering and broadcasting

Instructing an RTS node "target" to deliver and/or broadcast a packet can be done through a RTS node "neighbor" that forwards the packet to target. When SID-list encoding is used, this is either through a global SID for target with D and/or B flag, or a local SID from neighbor that is addressing target with D and/or B flag. When bitstring encoding is used this is through a local bitstring SID from neighbor that is addressing target with D and/or B flag.

Alternatively, deliver and/or broadcast may also happen because of target itself evaluating a SID for itself with D and/or B flag. When using SID-list encoding, this could happen, when neighbor sends a packet copy to target without D or B flag in RTS Params of the local SID or global SID. target itself could then have a local SID indicating itself as the destination and D and/or B flag set.

This option is is likely not very encoding efficient though. It would cost 8 bit for example to encode one out of three local SID without RU flag on target pointing to itself as the destination and indicating D and/or B flag (3 local SID = D, B, D/B).

If the packet header uses a global SID to steer the packet from neighbor to target, then there should never be a need for this option because there are enough global SIDs to encode all combination of flags. If a local SID is used and this option is necessary because there are not enough local SID to encode all desired flag combinations for target, then the most compact encoding depends on the size of global SIDs. If it is 15 bit, then the use of a global SID would have the same encoding size. If it is 23 bit, then this option would save one byte of encoding space.

When using bitstring encoding, the minimum encoding size cost of evaluating D and/or B flags on target or on neighbor is as follows.

PE that are always leaves would always get only one local bitstring SID in the bitstrings of its neighbors indicating the D bit.

PE that can be transit nodes, such as in rings would get one local bitstring SID without D bit, but with RU bit in the bitstrings of their neighbors, the PE ring node itself would have a local bitstring SID in its own local bitstring to indicate its own delivery copy.

P routers adjacent to PE leaf nodes would require only local bitstring SIDs without D bit by their neighbors. Their own bitstring SIDs includes one SID with B bit for itself to indicate broadcasting of packet copies to all PE leaf node neighbors.

5.2. Encapsulation considerations

5.2.1. Comparison with BIER header and forwarding

The RTS header is equivalent to the elements of a BIER/BIER-TE header required for BIER and BIER-TE replication.

(SI, SD, BSL, Entropy, Bitstring)

RTS currently does not specify an ECMP procedure to next-hop SIDs because it is part of the (unicast) forwarding to next-hops, but not to RTS replication.

Note that this is not the same set of header fields as [RFC8296], because that header contains more and different fields for additional functionality, which RTS would require to be in an Encap Header.

For the same reason, the RTS Header does also not include the [RFC8296] fields TC/DSCP for QoS, OAM, Proto (for next proto identification) and BFIR-id. Note that BFIR-id is not used by BIER forwarding either, but by BIER overlay-flow forwarding on BFIR and BFER.

Constraining the RTS header to only the necessary fields was chosen to make it most easy to combine it with any desirable encapsulation header.

RTS could use [RFC8296] as an Encap Header and BIER/[RFC8296] forwarding procedures, replacing only BIER bitstring replication to next-hop functionality with RTS replication.

In this case, the RTS Header could take the place of the bitstring field in the [RFC8296] header, using the next largest size allowed by BIER to fit the RTS header. SI would be unused, and SD could be used to run RTS, BIER and even BIER-TE in parallel through different values of SD, and all BIER forwarding procedures including ECMP to next-hop SIDs could be used in conjunction with RTS replication.

5.2.2. Comparison with IPv6 extension headers

The RTS header could be used as a payload of an an IPv6 extension header as similarly proposed for RBS in [I-D.eckert-msr6-rbs]. Note that the RTS header itself does not contain a simple length field that allows to completely skip across it. This is done because such functionality may not be required by all encapsulation headers / forwarding planes, or the format in which such a length is expected (unit) may be different for different forwarding planes. If required, such as when using the RTS header in an IPv6 extension header, then such a total-length field would have to be added to the Encap Header.

5.3. Encoding choices and complexity

Work on analysis of scalability of stateless source routing broaches a very wide field: size and topology of network, size and distribution of receivers just to name a few. This makes it impossible at this time to decide on a single, most simple encoding option for structured tree source-routing encodings. Instead, RTS attempts to combine the currently understood aspects of encoding into an as-simple-as-possible to implement single forwarding machinery and is in process of validating this encoding with P4 Tofino. Precursors of this work with subsets of these encoding options have already been validated through proof-of-concept implementations.

The use of SID-lists in the encoding is a natural fit when the target tree is one that does not require replication on many of the hops through which it passes, such as when doing non-equal-cost load-splitting, such as in capacity optimization in service provider networks. In [RFC9262], Figure 2, such an example is called an "Overlay" (tree). In the SID list, each of the SID can easily be global, making it possible for a next-hop to be anywhere in the network. While it is possible to also use global SIDs in a bitstring, the decision to include any global (remote) SID as a bit in a bitstring introduces additional encoding size cost for every tree, and not only the ones that would need this bit. This is also the main issue of using such global SIDs in BIER-TE (where they are represented as forward_routed()) adjacencies.

When replicating to direct neighbors, SID lists may be efficient for sparse trees. In the RTS encoding, up to 127 direct neighbors could be encoded in 8 bit for each SID, so it is easy to compare the encoding efficiency to that of a bitstring. A router with 32 neighbors (assume leaf neighbors for simplicity) requires 32 bits to represent all possible neighbors, if 4 or fewer neighbors need to receive a copy, a SID-list encoding requires equal or fewer bytes to encode.

Use of the broadcast option is equally possible with SID-list or bitstrings. An initial scalability test with such an option was shown in slide 6 of [RBSatIETF115], but not included in any prior proposed encoding option; a better analys of this option is subject to future work.

With all these considerations, it seems prudent to not attempt to pursue different encoding options such as recursive SID-lists and recursive bitstrings as separate experimental protocol proposals, because that would result in too much systematic duplication of effort across the whole stack. One may still arrive during the course of the experiment at a conclusion that one of the two encodings suffices.

The current state of understanding of implementation on P4 Tofino for the proposed encoding is primarily that it may or may not be possible to fit the whole encoding into the available code space, whereas bitstring and SID-list encoding alone will work. Likewise, the 8/24 bit variable length encoding feasibility for SID-list elements also needs to be verified.

If not all aspects of the encoding may fully work on Tofino or leave enough room for other forwarding code (such as unicast) to fit, this may or may not be relevant to industry target forwarding engines. If the encoding does show being feasible and beneficial, especially if compared to BIER/BIER-TE also on the implementation side, then RTS may in return be a good example of requirements that should be supportable in better next-gen low-cost / white box switches.

5.4. Discovering malformed RTS Headers

To determine whether the encoding of an RTS Header is correct, a node MAY add up the RUlength fields and verify that it adds up to the size of the RU list field as determined from the Encap Header size field for the RTS Header - before starting to replicate the packet.

If a node does not do this check before creating copies for neighbors, then malformed headers may be discovered when an RUlength field would indicate a packet offset exceeding the RTS Header size.

The size of the local bitstring headers is not encoded in the RTS Header itself, so a malformed header can most easily be a result of the encoding node using a different size than the processing node. This should not happen when the controller-plane mechanism to distribute SID space information is working correctly.

If this issue is considered to be important enough to spend further encoding space on, then the size of the bitstring needs to be added to the RU Params field. For example, the high-order bit of every byte of the bitstring could be fixed to 1 to indicate another byte of bitstring is following and 0 to indicate that this is the last byte of the bitstring. The correct setting of these bits is easily validated before creating copies, and independent of bitstring size in bytes, this only adds 12.5% overhead per SID/bit. In this case it might be better though to only allow 16-bit multiple of local bitstring sizes to reduce the overhead to 6.25%.

5.5. Differences over prior Recursive BitString (RBS) encodings proposal

The encoding for bitstrings proposed in this draft relies again on discarding of unnecessary RU instead of using offset pointers in the header to allow parsing only the relevant RU.

Discarding unnecessary RU has the benefit, that the total size of the header can be larger than if offset pointers where used. Forwarding engines have a maximum amount of header that they can inspect. With offset pointers, the furthest a node has to look into the RTS header is the actual size of the RTS header. With discarding of unnecessary RU, this maximum size for inspection can be significantly less than the maximum RTS header size. Consider the root of tree has two neighbors to copy to and both have equal size RU, then this root of the tree only needs to inspect up to the beginning of the second RU (the SID or bitstring in it).

7. Acknowledgments

The local bitstrings part of this work is based on the design published by Sheng Jiang, Xu Bing, Yan Shen, Meng Rui, Wan Junjie and Wang Chuang {jiangsheng|bing.xu|yanshen|mengrui|wanjunjie2|wangchuang}, see [CGM2Design]. Many thanks for Bing Xu ( for editorial work on the prior variation of that work [I-D.xu-msr6-rbs].

8. Changelog

00 - initial version for IETF118.

9. References

9.1. Normative References

Hui, J., Vasseur, JP., Culler, D., and V. Manral, "An IPv6 Routing Header for Source Routes with the Routing Protocol for Low-Power and Lossy Networks (RPL)", RFC 6554, DOI 10.17487/RFC6554, , <>.
Deering, S. and R. Hinden, "Internet Protocol, Version 6 (IPv6) Specification", STD 86, RFC 8200, DOI 10.17487/RFC8200, , <>.
Wijnands, IJ., Ed., Rosen, E., Ed., Dolganow, A., Przygienda, T., and S. Aldrin, "Multicast Using Bit Index Explicit Replication (BIER)", RFC 8279, DOI 10.17487/RFC8279, , <>.
Wijnands, IJ., Ed., Rosen, E., Ed., Dolganow, A., Tantsura, J., Aldrin, S., and I. Meilik, "Encapsulation for Bit Index Explicit Replication (BIER) in MPLS and Non-MPLS Networks", RFC 8296, DOI 10.17487/RFC8296, , <>.
Filsfils, C., Ed., Previdi, S., Ed., Ginsberg, L., Decraene, B., Litkowski, S., and R. Shakir, "Segment Routing Architecture", RFC 8402, DOI 10.17487/RFC8402, , <>.
Filsfils, C., Ed., Dukes, D., Ed., Previdi, S., Leddy, J., Matsushima, S., and D. Voyer, "IPv6 Segment Routing Header (SRH)", RFC 8754, DOI 10.17487/RFC8754, , <>.
Eckert, T., Ed., Menth, M., and G. Cauchie, "Tree Engineering for Bit Index Explicit Replication (BIER-TE)", RFC 9262, DOI 10.17487/RFC9262, , <>.

9.2. Informative References

Jiang, S., Xu, B. (Robin)., Shen, Y., Rui, M., Junjie, W., and W. Chuang, "Novel Multicast Protocol Proposal Introduction", , <<>>.
"Carrier Grade Minimalist Multicast CENI Networking Test Report", , <<>>.
Eckert, T. T. and B. Xu, "Carrier Grade Minimalist Multicast (CGM2) using Bit Index Explicit Replication (BIER) with Recursive BitString Structure (RBS) Addresses", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-eckert-bier-cgm2-rbs-01, , <>.
Eckert, T. T., "Carrier Grade Minimalist Multicast (CGM2) using Bit Index Explicit Replication (BIER) with Recursive BitString Structure (RBS) Addresses", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-eckert-bier-cgm2-rbs-00, , <>.
Eckert, T. T. and B. Xu, "Carrier Grade Minimalist Multicast (CGM2) using Bit Index Explicit Replication (BIER) with Recursive BitString Structure (RBS) Addresses", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-eckert-bier-cgm2-rbs-01, , <>.
Eckert, T. T., Menth, M., Geng, X., Zheng, X., Meng, R., and F. Li, "Recursive BitString Structure (RBS) Addresses for BIER and MSR6", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-eckert-bier-rbs-00, , <>.
Eckert, T. T., Geng, X., Zheng, X., Meng, R., and F. Li, "Recursive Bitstring Structure (RBS) for Multicast Source Routing over IPv6 (MSR6)", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-eckert-msr6-rbs-01, , <>.
Xu, B., Geng, X., and T. T. Eckert, "RBS(Recursive BitString Structure) for Multicast Source Routing over IPv6", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-xu-msr6-rbs-01, , <>.
Merling, D., Lindner, S., and M. Menth, "P4-Based Implementation of BIER and BIER-FRR for Scalable and Resilient Multicast", IEEE in "Journal of Network and Computer Applications" (JNCA), vol. 196, Nov. 2020, preprint, DOI 10.1016/j.jnca.2020.102764, n.d., <>.
Merling, D., Lindner, S., and M. Menth, "Hardware-based Evaluation of Scalable and Resilient Multicast with BIER in P4", IEEE in "IEEE Access", <>, vol. 9, p. 34500 - 34514, March 2021, <>, n.d..
Merling, D., Stüber, T., and M. Menth, "Efficiency of BIER Multicast in Large Networks", IEEE accepted for "IEEE Transactions on Network and Service Managment", preprint <>, n.d.. preprint
Lindner, S., Merling, D., and M. Menth, "Learning Multicast Patterns for Efficient BIER Forwarding with P4", IEEE in "IEEE Transactions on Network and Service Managment", vol. 20, no. 2, June 2023, preprint, n.d..
Eckert, T., Menth, M., Gend, X., Zhen, X., Meng, R., and F. Li, "RBS (Recursive BitString Structure) to improve scalability beyond BIER/BIER-TE, IETF115", , <<>>.
Postel, J., "Internet Protocol", STD 5, RFC 791, DOI 10.17487/RFC0791, , <>.

Appendix A. Evolution to RTS

The following history review of RBS explains key aspects of the road towards RTS and how prior document work is included (or not) in this RTS work.

A.1. Research work on BIER

Initial experience implementation with implementation of BIER in PE was gained through "P4-Based Implementation of BIER and BIER-FRR for Scalable and Resilient Multicast", [Menth20h], from which experience was gained that processing of large BIER bitstring requires significantly complex programming for efficient forwarding, as described in "Learning Multicast Patterns for Efficient BIER Forwarding ith P4", [Menth23f]. Further evalutions where researched through "Hardware-based Evaluation of Scalable and Resilient Multicast with BIER in P4", [Menth21] and "Efficiency of BIER Multicast in Large Networks", [Menth23].

A.2. Initial RBS from CGM2

The initial, 2021 [I-D.eckert-bier-cgm2-rbs-00] introduces the concept of Recursive Bitstring Forwarding (RBS) in which a single bitstring in a source routing header for stateless multicast replication as introduced by BIER and re-used by BIER-TE is replaced by a recursive structure representing each node of a multicast tree and in each node the list of neighbors to which to replicate to is represented by a bitstring.

Routers processing this recursive structure do not need to process the whole structure, instead, they only need to examine their own local bitstring, and replicate copies to each of the neighbors for which a bit is set in the bitstring for this node. For each copy the recursive structure is rewritten so that only the remaining subtree behind the neighbor remains in the packet header. By only having to examine a "local" (and hence short) bitstring, RBS processing can arguably be simpler than that of BIER/BIER-TE. By discarding the parts of the tree structure not needed anymore, there is also no need to change bits in the bitstring as done in BIER/BIER-TE to avoid loops.

This initial version of RBS encoding is based on a design originally called "Carrier Grade Minimalist Multicast" (CGM2), and which started as a research project whose design is summarized in [CGM2Design]. A vendor high-speed router implementation proof-of-concept was done, as well as a wide-area proof-of-concept research network deployment, which was documented for the 2022 Nanjing "6th future Network Development Conference". An english translation of the report can be found at [CGM2report].

A.3. RBS scalability compared to BIER

The 2022 [I-D.eckert-bier-cgm2-rbs-01] version of the document adds topology and testing information about a simulation comparing RBS with BIER performance in a dense, high-speed network topology. It is showing that the number of replications required to reach an increasing number of receivers does grow slower with RBS than with BIER, because in BIER, it is necessary to send another packet copy from the source whenever receivers in a different Set Identifier Bitstring (SI) are required, whereas RBS requires to only create multiple copies of a packet at the source to reach more receivers whenever the RBS packet header size for one packet is exhausted. The results of this simulation are shown in slide 6 of [RBSatIETF115].

While RBS with its explicit description of the whole multicast tree structure seems immediately like (only) a replacement for BIER-TE, which does the same, but encodes it in a "flat"BIER bitstring (and incurring more severe scalability limitations because of this), this simulation shows that the RBS aproach may also compete with BIER itself, even though this may initially look counter-intuitive because information not needed in the BIER encoding - intermediate hops - is encoded in RBS.

The scalability analysis also assumes one novel encoding optimization, indicating replication to all leaf neighbors on a node. This allow to even further compact the RBS encoding for dense trees, such as in aplications like IPTV. Note that this optimization was not included in any of the RBS proposal specifications, but it is included in this RTS specification.This optimization leads to the actual reduction in packet copies sent for denser trees in the simulation results.

A.4. Discarding versus offset pointers

[I-D.eckert-bier-rbs] re-focusses the work of the prior [I-D.eckert-bier-cgm2-rbs] to focus only on the forwarding plane aspects, removing simulation results and architectural considerations beyond the forwarding plane.

It also proposes one then considered to be interesting alternative to the encoding. Instead of discarding unnecessary parts of the tree structure for every copy of a packet made along the tree, its forwarding machinery instead uses two offset pointers in the header to point to the relevant sub-structure for the next-hop, so that only a rewrite of these two pointers is needed. This replicates the offset-rewrite used in unicast source-routing headers such as in IP, [RFC791], or IPv6, [RFC6554] and [RFC8754].

Discussions about discarding vs. changing of offset since then seems to indicate that changing offsets may be beneficial for forwarders that can save memory bandwidth when not having to rewrite complete packet headers, such as specifically systems with so-called scatter-gather I/O, whereas discarding of data is more beneficial when forwards do have an equivalent of scatter/gather I/O, something which all modern high-speed routers seem to have, including the Tofino platform used for validation of the approach described in this document.

A.5. Encapsulations for IPv6-only networks

Whereas all initial RBS proposal did either not propose specific encapsulations for the RBS structure and/or discussed how to use RBS with the existing BIER encapsulation [RFC8296], the 2022 [I-D.xu-msr6-rbs] describes the encapsulation of RBS into an IPv6 extension header, in support of a forwarding plane where all packets on the wire are IPv6 packets, rewriting per-RBS-hop the destination IPv6 address of the outer IPv6 header like pre-existing unicast IPv6 stateless source routing solutions too ([RFC6554], [RFC8754]).

This approach was based on the express preference desire of IPv6 operators to have a common encapsulation of all packets on the wire for operation reasons ("IPv6 only network design") and to share a common source-routing mechanism operating on the principle of per-steering-hop IPv6 destination address rewrite.

[I-D.eckert-msr6-rbs] extends this approach by adding the offset-pointer rewrite of [I-D.eckert-bier-rbs] to the extension header to avoid any change in length of the extension header, but it also includes another, RBS indepent field, the IPv6 multicast destination address to the extension header. Only this aditional would allow for RBS with a single extension header to be a complete IPv6 multicast source-routing solution. BIER/BIER-TE or any encapsulation variations of RBS without such a header field would always require to carry a full IPv6 header as a payload to provie end-to-end IPv6 multicast service to applications.


Xuesong Geng
Xiuli Zheng
Rui Meng
Fengkai Li

Authors' Addresses

Toerless Eckert (editor)
Futurewei Technologies USA
2220 Central Expressway
Santa Clara, CA 95050
United States of America
Michael Menth
University of Tuebingen
Steffen Lindner
University of Tuebingen