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Versions: 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 rfc2686                                  
INTERNET-DRAFT                                           Carsten Bormann
Expires: September 1998                              Universitaet Bremen
                                                              March 1998

              The Multi-Class Extension to Multi-Link PPP

Status of this memo

   This document is an Internet-Draft.  Internet-Drafts are working
   documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), its areas,
   and its working groups.  Note that other groups may also distribute
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   Distribution of this document is unlimited.


   A companion document describes an architecture for providing
   integrated services over low-bitrate links, such as modem lines, ISDN
   B-channels, and sub-T1 links [1].  The main components of the
   architecture are: a real-time encapsulation format for asynchronous
   and synchronous low-bitrate links, a header compression architecture
   optimized for real-time flows, elements of negotiation protocols used
   between routers (or between hosts and routers), and announcement
   protocols used by applications to allow this negotiation to take

   This document proposes the fragment-oriented solution for the real-
   time encapsulation format part of the architecture.  The general
   approach is to start from the PPP Multilink fragmentation protocol
   [2] and provide a small number of extensions to add functionality and
   reduce the overhead.

Bormann                                                         [Page 1]

INTERNET-DRAFT The Multi-Class Extension to Multi-Link PPP    March 1998

1.  Introduction

   As an extension to the ``best-effort'' services the Internet is well-
   known for, additional types of services (``integrated services'')
   that support the transport of real-time multimedia information are
   being developed for, and deployed in the Internet.

   The present document defines the fragment-oriented solution for the
   real-time encapsulation format part of the architecture, i.e. for the
   queues-of-fragments type sender [1].  As described in more detail in
   the architecture document, a real-time encapsulation format is
   required as, e.g., a 1500 byte packet on a 28.8 kbit/s modem link
   makes this link unavailable for the transmission of real-time
   information for about 400 ms.  This adds a worst-case delay that
   causes real-time applications to operate with round-trip delays on
   the order of at least a second -- unacceptable for real-time
   conversation.  The PPP extensions defined in this document allow a
   sender to fragment the packets of various priorities into multiple
   classes of fragments, allowing high-priority packets to be sent
   between fragments of lower priorities.

   A companion document based on these extensions [5] defines a
   suspend/resume-oriented solution for those cases where the best
   possible delay is required and the senders are of type 1 [1].

1.1.  Specification Language

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.

2.  Requirements

   The main design goal for the components of an architecture that
   addresses real-time multimedia flows over low-bitrate links is that
   of minimizing the end-to-end delay.  More specifically, the worst
   case delay (after removing possible outliers, which are equivalent to
   packet losses from an application point of view) is what determines
   the playout points selected by the applications and thus the delay
   actually perceived by the user.

   In addition, every attempt should obviously be undertaken to maximize
   the bandwidth actually available to media data; overheads must be

   The solution should not place unnecessary burdens on the non-real-
   time flows.  In particular, the usual MTU should be available to
   these flows.

   The most general approach would provide the ability to suspend any
   packet (real-time or not) for a more urgent real-time packet, up to
   an infinite number of levels of nesting.  On the other hand, it is

Bormann                                                         [Page 2]

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   likely that there would rarely be a requirement for a real-time
   packet to suspend another real-time packet that is not at least about
   twice as long.  Typically, the largest packet size to be expected on
   a PPP link is the default MTU of 1500 bytes.  The smallest high-
   priority packets are likely to have on the order of 22 bytes
   (compressed RTP/G.723.1 packets).  In the 1:72 range of packet sizes
   to be expected, this translates to a maximum requirement of about
   eight levels of suspension (including one level where long real-time
   packets suspend long non-real-time packets).  On 28.8kbit/s modems,
   there seems to be a practical requirement for at least two levels of
   suspension (i.e., audio suspends any longer packet including video,
   video suspends other very long packets).

   On an architectural level, there are several additional requirements
   for the fragmentation scheme:

   a)   The scheme must be predictable enough that admission control can
        make decisions based on its characteristics.  As is argued in
        [1], this will often only be the case when additional hints
        about the characteristics of the flow itself are available
        (application hints).

   b)   The scheme must be robust against errors, at least with the same
        level of error detection as PPP.

   c)   The scheme must in general cooperate nicely with PPP.  In
        particular, it should be as compatible to existing PPP standards
        as possible.  On a link that (based on PPP negotiation) makes
        use of the scheme, it should always be possible to fall back to
        standard LCP without ambiguity.

   d)   The scheme must work well with existing chips and router
        systems.  (See [1] for a more extensive discussion of
        implementation models.)  For synchronous links this means using
        HDLC framing; with much existing hardware, it is also hard to
        switch off the HDLC per-frame CRC.  For asynchronous links,
        there is much more freedom in design; on the other hand, a
        design that treats them much different from synchronous links
        would lose a number of desirable properties of PPP.

   e)   The scheme must be future proof.  In particular, the emergence
        of V.80 based modems may significantly change the way PPP is
        used with modems.

   This document does not address additional requirements that may be
   relevant in conjunction with Frame Relay; however, there seems to be
   little problem in applying the principles of this document to ``PPP
   in Frame Relay'' [3].

Bormann                                                         [Page 3]

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3.  Using PPP Multilink as-is

   Transmitting only part of a packet to allow higher-priority traffic
   to intervene and resuming its transmission later on is a kind of
   fragmentation.  The existing PPP Multilink Protocol (MP, [2])
   provides for sequence numbering and begin/end bits, allowing packets
   to be split into fragments (Figure 1).

       Figure 1: Multilink Short Sequence Number Fragment Format [2]

   PPP Header:  | Address 0xff  | Control 0x03  |
                | PID(H)  0x00  | PID(L)  0x3d  |
   MP Header:   |B|E|0|0|    sequence number    |
                |    fragment data              |
                |               .               |
                |               .               |
                |               .               |
   PPP FCS:     |              FCS              |

   (Note that the address, control, and most significant PID bytes are
   often negotiated to be compressed away.)

   MP's monotonically increasing sequence numbering (contiguous numbers
   are needed for all fragments of a packet) does not allow suspension
   of the sending of a sequence of fragments of one packet in order to
   send another packet.  It is, however, possible to send intervening
   packets that are not encapsulated in multilink headers; thus, MP
   supports two levels of priority.

   The multilink-as-is approach can be built using existing standards;
   multilink capability is now widely deployed and only the sending side
   needs to be aware that they are using this for giving priority to
   real-time packets.

3.1.  Limitations of multilink as-is

   Multilink-as-is is not the complete solution for a number of reasons.
   First, because of the single monotonically increasing serial number,
   there is only one level of suspension:  ``Big'' packets that are sent
   via multilink can be suspended by ``small'' packets sent outside of
   multilink; the latter are not fragmentable (and therefore also cannot
   be distributed to multiple links).

   A problem not solved by this specification is that the multi-link
   header is relatively large; as delay bounds become small (for queues-
   of-fragments type implementations) the overhead may become

Bormann                                                         [Page 4]

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4.  Extending PPP Multilink to multiple classes

   The obvious approach to providing more than one level of suspension
   with PPP Multilink is to run Multilink multiple times over one link.
   Multilink as it is defined provides no way for more than one instance
   to be active.  Fortunately, a number of bits are unused in the
   Multilink header: two bits in the short sequence number format (as
   can be seen in Figure 1), six in the long sequence number format.

   This document defines (some of the) previously unused bits as a class

       Figure 2: Short Sequence Number Fragment Format With Classes
   PPP Header:  | Address 0xff  | Control 0x03  |
                | PID(H)  0x00  | PID(L)  0x3d  |
   MP Header:   |B|E|cls|    sequence number    |
                |    fragment data              |
                |               .               |
                |               .               |
                |               .               |
   PPP FCS:     |              FCS              |

   Each class runs a separate copy of the mechanism defined in [2], i.e.
   uses a separate sequence number space and reassembly buffer.

   Similarly, for the long sequence number format:

       Figure 3:  Long Sequence Number Fragment Format With Classes

   PPP Header:  | Address 0xff  | Control 0x03  |
                | PID(H)  0x00  | PID(L)  0x3d  |
   MP Header:   |B|E| class |0|0|sequence number|
                |      sequence number (L)      |
                |        fragment data          |
                |               .               |
                |               .               |
                |               .               |
   PPP FCS:     |              FCS              |

Bormann                                                         [Page 5]

INTERNET-DRAFT The Multi-Class Extension to Multi-Link PPP    March 1998

   Together with the ability to send packets without a multilink header,
   this provides four levels of suspension with 12-bit headers (probably
   sufficient for many practical applications) and sixteen levels with
   24-bit headers (only four of the six free bits are used in this case
   -- based on the rationale given above, sixteen levels should
   generally be more than sufficient).

5.  Prefix elision: Compressing common header bytes

   For some applications, all packets of a certain class will have a
   common protocol identifier (or even more than one common prefix
   byte).  In this case, the following optimization is possible: the
   class number can be associated with a prefix of bytes that are
   removed from each packet before transmission and that are implicitly
   prepended to the reassembled packet after reception.

   Note that if only some of the packets to be transmitted at a certain
   level of priority have the common prefix, it may still be possible to
   utilize this method by allocating two class numbers and only
   associating one of them with the prefix.  (This is the reason why
   four of the unused bits in the long sequence number format have been
   allocated to the class number instead of the three that generally
   should suffice.)

   Prefix elision is not a replacement for header compression or data
   compression: it allows implementations to compress away prefixes that
   often are not reachable by header or data compression methods.

6.  Negotiable options

   The following PPP LCP options are already defined by MP:

   o    Multilink Maximum Received Reconstructed Unit

   o    Multilink Short Sequence Number Header Format

   o    Endpoint Discriminator

   This document defines two new LCP options:

   o    Multilink Header Format

   o    Prefix Elision

6.1.  Multilink header format option

   A summary of the Multilink Header Format Option format is shown
   below.  The fields are transmitted from left to right.

Bormann                                                         [Page 6]

INTERNET-DRAFT The Multi-Class Extension to Multi-Link PPP    March 1998

                                 Figure 4:
    0                   1                   2
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3
   |   Type = TBD  |  Length = 3   |     Code      |

   This LCP option advises the peer that the implementation wishes to
   receive fragments with a format given by the code number.  By
   default, long sequence number multilink headers without classes are
   used.  When this option is received, an implementation MUST either
   transmit all subsequent multilink packets on all links of the bundle
   with the multilink header format given or configure-NAK or configure-
   Reject the option.

   The values defined for the use of this option are:

   -    Neither this option nor the Short Sequence Number Header Format
        Option (type = 18) [2] is present: long sequence number fragment

   -    This option present with code = 2: long sequence number fragment
        format with classes

   -    Short Sequence Number Header Format Option (type = 18) present:
        short sequence number fragment format

   -    This option present with code = 6: short sequence number
        fragment format with classes

   An implementation MUST NOT request a combination of both the Short
   Sequence Number Header Format Option and this option.

6.2.  Prefix elision option

   This LCP option advises the peer that the implementation wishes to
   send only packets with a certain prefix in each of the given classes;
   this prefix is not sent as part of the information in the fragment(s)
   of this class.  By default, this common prefix is empty for all
   classes.  When this option is received, an implementation MUST either
   add the prefix given for the class to all subsequently received
   multilink packets of each of the given classes or configure-NAK or
   configure-Reject the option.

   If none of the formats with classes has been negotiated, class number
   0 may be used to indicate a common prefix for all packets sent within
   multilink fragments.

   Apart from the type and length octets common to all LCP options, the

Bormann                                                         [Page 7]

INTERNET-DRAFT The Multi-Class Extension to Multi-Link PPP    March 1998

   option contains a sequence of zero or more sequences of a class
   number, a length of the prefix for that class, and the octets in that

                                 Figure 5:
    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   |   Type = TBD  | Option Length |    Class      | Prefix Length |
   |   Prefix...

   NOTA BENE: the sense of this option is an indication from the sender
   to the receiver, UNLIKE most PPP options that indicate capabilities
   of the receiver to the sender.

7.  References

   [1]  C. Bormann, ``Providing integrated services over low-bitrate
        links'', Work in Progress (draft-ietf-issll-isslow-03.txt),
        March 1998.

   [2]  K. Sklower, B. Lloyd, G. McGregor, D. Carr, T. Coradetti, ``The
        PPP Multilink Protocol (MP)'', RFC 1990, August 1996 (obsoletes

   [3]  W. Simpson, ``PPP in Frame Relay'', RFC 1973, June 1996.

   [4]  R. Andrades, F. Burg, ``QOSPPP Framing Extensions to PPP'', Work
        in Progress (draft-andrades-framing-ext-00.txt), September 1996.

   [5]  C. Bormann, ``PPP in a real-time oriented HDLC-like framing'',
        Work in Progress (draft-ietf-issll-isslow-rtf-02.txt), March

8.  Author's address

   Carsten Bormann
   Universitaet Bremen FB3 TZI
   Postfach 330440
   D-28334 Bremen, GERMANY
   phone +49.421.218-7024
   fax +49.421.218-7000

Bormann                                                         [Page 8]

INTERNET-DRAFT The Multi-Class Extension to Multi-Link PPP    March 1998


   David Oran suggested using PPP Multilink for real-time framing and
   reminded the author of his earlier attempts of making Multilink more
   useful for this purpose.  The participants in a lunch BOF at the 1996
   Montreal IETF gave useful input on the design tradeoffs in various
   environments.  The members of the ISSLL subgroup on low bitrate links
   (ISSLOW) have helped reducing the large set of options that initial
   versions of this specification had.

Bormann                                                         [Page 9]