US 6661788 Multicast scheduling for a network device

ABSTRACT – A method and apparatus are provided for scheduling multicast data in an input-queued network device. According to one aspect of the present invention, deterministic and bounded delay for high priority multicast cells is guaranteed by the multicast scheduler. The scheduler receives a transmit request associated with each of a plurality of input ports. The transmit request identifies output ports to which pending multicast cells are ready to be transmitted, if any. Then, for each of multiple classes of service, the scheduler performs a single scheduling iteration. The single scheduling iteration includes a grant phase, an accept phase, and an update phase. During the grant phase, the scheduler grants one or more of the input ports access to the fabric by issuing grants based upon the transmit requests and a priority indicator that identifies an input port that is given scheduling priority for the scheduling iteration. During the accept phase, on behalf of each of the input ports, the scheduler accepts all grants corresponding to the input port. Finally, during the update phase, the scheduler updates the priority indicator for use in a subsequent scheduling cycle.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates generally to the field of computer networking devices. More particularly, the invention relates to a method and apparatus for providing efficient unicast and multicast scheduling and high throughput for both unicast and multicast traffic. The method and apparatus may be embodied in a network device, such as a router or switch that employs input buffering and a switched backplane architecture.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The current trend in high performance routers is away from shared backplanes that allow only a single bus transaction at a time (e.g., the transfer of one packet across the bus) and toward much faster switched backplanes that support multiple bus transactions at once (e.g., the forwarding of packets across the backplane by multiple ports simultaneously). For convenience, typically, packets are transferred across the switched backplane in fixed size “cells.” In this manner, the scheduling of the backplane’s input and output ports may be synchronized in fixed size increments of time referred to herein as “time slots,” “cell scheduling cycles,” or “cell cycles.” A scheduling algorithm is employed to determine a “configuration” of the backplane for a particular time slot by identifying non-conflicting pairs of inputs and outputs which may be connected during the time slot. Because efficient scheduling of the backplane is important to the performance of the system as a whole, much time and effort has been spent developing and evaluating various scheduling approaches.

The recently developed ESLIP algorithm is an example of one of the more advanced scheduling approaches. The ESLIP algorithm is an enhanced version of iSLIP, an iterative unicast scheduling algorithm. Recognizing the importance of efficiently supporting multicast traffic, ESLIP combines unicast and multicast scheduling. The implementation of the ESLIP algorithm involves scheduling both unicast and multicast traffic simultaneously in a single scheduler. Consequently, to support multiple classes of service, the ESLIP scheduler needs to choose between competing unicast and multicast cells having the same priority. The ESLIP algorithm resolves contention between unicast and multicast cells of the same priority by alternating its preference between multicast and unicast each cell cycle. In this manner, both multicast and unicast traffic may be transferred across the backplane each cell cycle. During one cell cycle, unicast queues representing a particular priority are chosen to source a cell before multicast queues representing the same priority; and in the subsequent cell cycle, multicast cells are favored over unicast cells of equal priority. A more detailed description of ESLIP can be found in N. McKeown, “Fast Switched Backplane for a Gigabit Switched Router,” Cisco Systems white paper, November 1997.

While the ESLIP algorithm is admirable in terms of its performance, it has some limitations in terms of flexibility, predictability of scheduling delay, and variability of packet delay. With regard to flexibility, notably, there is no mechanism by which the frequency of multicast servicing can be varied. The fixed alternating priority scheme suggested by the ESLIP algorithm schedules both multicast and unicast traffic every time slot. With regard to delay, it is desirable to have guaranteed deterministic and bounded delay for a high priority multicast cell at the head of its queue. Additionally, it is advantageous to minimize the variability of packet delay. For example, output link scheduling can be made more efficient if low packet delay variability across the backplane can be achieved.

In addition, prior art schedulers have various other disadvantages that are overcome by aspects of the present invention, as described in the detailed description which follows.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A method and apparatus for scheduling multicast data in an input-queued network device are described. According to one aspect of the present invention, deterministic and bounded delay for high priority multicast cells is guaranteed by the multicast scheduler. The scheduler receives a transmit request associated with each of a plurality of input ports. The transmit request identifies output ports to which pending multicast cells are ready to be transmitted, if any. Then, for each of multiple classes of service, the scheduler performs a single scheduling iteration. The single scheduling iteration includes a grant phase, an accept phase, and an update phase. During the grant phase, the scheduler grants one or more of the input ports access to the fabric by issuing grants based upon the transmit requests and a priority indicator that identifies an input port that is given scheduling priority for the scheduling iteration. During the accept phase, on behalf of each of the input ports, the scheduler accepts all grants corresponding to the input port. Finally, during the update phase, the scheduler updates the priority indicator for use in a subsequent scheduling cycle.

 

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