Internet-Draft Group Address Allocation Protocol (GAAP) April 2024
Farinacci & McBride Expires 10 October 2024 [Page]
Network Working Group
Intended Status:
D. Farinacci
M. McBride

Group Address Allocation Protocol (GAAP)


This document describes a design for a lightweight decentralized multicast group address allocation protocol (named GAAP and pronounced "gap" as in "mind the gap"). The protocol requires no configuration setup and no centralized services. The protocol runs among group participants which need a unique group address to send and receive multicast packets.

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 10 October 2024.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

The Group Address Allocation Protocol (GAAP) is a decentralized multicast protocol used by participating applications which send and receive packets to/from a multicast group. The protocol is relatively lightweight, runs with minimized messaging and state so that it can run within a library a multicast application compiles into its executable binary.

GAAP is a possible solution to the issues described in problem statement draft [I-D.ietf-pim-zeroconf-mcast-addr-alloc-ps].

Other approaches to multicast group allocation have been proposed in the past, they include mDNS [RFC6762], MADCAP [RFC2730], MASC [RFC2909], and IPv6 Allocation Guidelines [RFC3307]. However, they require configuration, used on a single subnet, and are not decentralized.

This document will describe the protocol operation, protocol message formats, the API definition, and how multicast applications use the API.

2. Definition of Terms

Group Name:
is an ASCII string used by applications so they can rendezvous on the same group address. The application is started using this group name parameter. Applications can use multiple group names if they have requirements to use multiple group addresses.
Group Address:
is a non-link-local IPv4 multicast group address [RFC1112] or an IPv6 multicast group address [RFC4291].
GAAP Group Address:
is an IANA assigned non-link-local group address the GAAP protocol sends messages to. This address must not come from the GAAP multicast address block allocated by IANA.
Hash Function:
is a cryptographic hash function which takes the group name as input and produces a hash value as output. The GAAP protocol uses SHA-256 [RFC6234].
Acceptable Group Hash List:
There are 4 hashed values regarded as "acceptable" for a group name. They are calculated using the SHA-256 hash function on 1 of 4 character strings: "<group-name>", "<group-name>+1", "<group-name>+2", or "<group-name>+3". No GAAP node should run the hash on any other strings for this group name.
Hashed Value:
is the output of a SHA-256 [RFC6234] hash function where the low order 32-bits are used to produce a unique network layer multicast group address. Achieving a unique 32-bits allows layer-2 switches to not have MAC multicast address collisions when mapped from multiple network layer multicast group addresses.
Collided Group Address:
a network layer group address where the low-order 32-bits of one group address is the same as the low-order 32-bits of another group address. It is desirable that the low-order 32-bits of a mapped IPv6 group address to a MAC group address not be the same so layer-2 switches do not leak packets to non-group members. This is also true for IPv4 group addresses where the low-order 23-bits must be unique.
Claim Message:
a GAAP protocol message that allocates a unique group address and claims it among other GAAP nodes on the network.

3. Overview of Protocol Operation

This section will describe the high-level functionality of the GAAP protocol. Each application runs the GAAP protocol by using the API defined in Section 5.

4. GAAP Message Format

At this time, there is a single message called the Claim message with type value 1. Type value of 0 is reserved. The Claim message is sent in a UDP checksummed packet where the source port is ephemeral and chosen by the sender and the destination port is a well-known port allocated by IANA. GAAP can work behind NAT and firewall devices as long as the GAAP destination port is permitted through filters.

     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=1 |              Reserved                 | Record Count  |
    |                       0xAAAAAAAA Marker                       |
    |                  IPv4 Multicast Group Address                 | \
    +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+  \
    |                                                               |    R
    |                        IPv6 Multicast                         |    e
    |                         Group Address                         |    c
    |                                                               |    o
    +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+    r
    |                          Timestamp                            |    d
    +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+   /
    |                          Group Name ...                       |  /
    +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ /
    |                             ...                               |/
Figure 1: GAAP Claim Message
Packet field descriptions:
Claim Message
Set to 0 and ignored on receipt.
Record Count:
The number of records in this Claim message.
The fixed bit pattern of 0xAAAAAAAA is required to be set by the sender. The receiver verifies the marker to be 0xAAAAAAAA. If it is not, the packet is dropped. The Marker field is used to indicate to a receiver that the packet may be encrypted. See Section 7 for details on encrypting GAAP messages.
Record field descriptions:
IPv4 Multicast Group Address:
a 32-bit multicast address in network byte order [RFC1112]. If all bits are set to 0, there is no IPv4 address being allocated and claimed.
IPv6 Multicast Group Address:
a 128-bit multicast address in network byte order [RFC4291]. If all bits are set to 0, there is no IPv6 address being allocated and claimed.
Standard epoch UTC timestamp according to [RFC8536].
Group Name:
A variable length group name the multicast application uses. It is in ASCII format [RFC0020]. The string is terminated with a null character.


The GAAP API has the following API calls a multicast application will use. A multicast application imports the library before using it in its code logic. This section documents a python library.

5.1. gaap.init()

gapp.init() is used to initialize the GAAP API with a application callback function. The callback function is called when a group address has changed (due to collision) for a group name the application allocated.

        import gapp

        status = gapp.init(app_callback_func)
        if (status == False):

        def app_callback_func(group_name, group_address)
            print("Group name {} changed to group address {}". \
                format((group_name, group_address))

5.2. gaap.allocate()

gaap.allocate() is used when the application needs a group address to send or receive on.

        import gapp

        group_name = "my-audio-group"

        group_address = gapp.allocate(group_name)
        if (group_address == None):

        print("Name {} allocated address {}".format(group_name, group_address))

5.3. gaap.release()

gaap.release() is used when an application is finished using a group address.

        import gapp

        group_address = gapp.allocate("my-audio-group")

        status = gapp.release(group_address)
        if (status == False):

        print("Released address {}".format(group_address))

5.4. gaap.close()

gaap.close() is used when an application is finished using the GAAP protocol.

        import gapp

        # Initialize the GAAP API with no callback function. Return if errored.
        if (gapp.init() == False):

        # Do multicast work by allocating, sending, and receiving group addresses.

        # Application shutting down. No longer need to run GAAP on local node.

6. Detail Protocol Operation

6.1. Allocating Group Addresses

When an application needs a group address it provides the GAAP API with a group name, the group name is used as input to a SHA-256 hash function [RFC6234]. Initially, when no group address collision is detected the group name is passed as a string to the hash function and the low-order 32-bits are used for a group address. The following pseudo-code illustrates the functionality:

        hash = sha256(group_name)
        low_bits = hash & 0xffffffff
        if (v4):
            group_address = 0xe0000000 | (low_bits & 0x007fffff)
        if (v6):
            group_address = 0xff0e...0000 | low_bits

When the hash function is used to resolve a collision, the following pseudo-code will illustrate how 3 more attempts are used to find a unique group address:

        for append in ["+1", "+2", "+3"]:
            hash = sha256(group_name + append)
            group_address = make_group_from_hash(hash)
            collision = send_claim(group_address)
            if (collision == False): return
        print("Collision limit reached")

When a group address collision is detected by 2 GAAP nodes, the node with the earliest timestamp for the group address creation wins the collision and keeps using the address. The node with a later timestamp has the responsibility to allocate a new group address to prevent the collision.

6.2. Claiming Group Addresses

When a group address is allocated by a GAAP node it will build and send a Claim message. Included in the Claim message is the group name, group address, and timestamp. If the group address collides with other GAAP nodes already using the address, one of the nodes will send a Claim message to notify the colliding node that it needs to allocate a new group address.

A collision is defined to be the same group address allocated to 2 different group names. So if a GAAP node is claiming a group address for its group name and a Claim is received with the same group name with the same group address, it is not a collision. It is simply a peer group participant claiming the group address you both agree to be using.

Each GAAP node will periodically send Claim messages for all group names for the applications running on the node. It will do this in a multi-record Claim message. The periodic Claim message is sent by setting a rough 1 minute timer. The timer value is set to 1 minute plus a jitter value. The jitter value is a random number in a 10% range of 1 minute (60 to 66 seconds). When the timer expires, a Claim message is sent. Receivers of a Claim message who have their timer running, reset the timer and thereby suppresses sending their own Claim message. This allows only a single GAAP node that is using the group address to keep claiming the group is still in use.

A new GAAP node may come up after a group address collision has been resolved. It may send a Claim message for the first group hash from the Acceptable Group Hash List. When this happens previous nodes in the group will trigger sending a Claim for one of the other addresses in the Acceptable Group Hash List. The new GAAP node must switch over to using the triggered Claimed group address. The new GAAP node must yield to existing nodes since their timestamps for the group address allocation happened earlier than the new node's Claim.

6.3. Partition Repair

There will be network outage situations where all GAAP nodes may not receive Claim messages. During a partition, duplicate group addresses may be allocated and used by nodes on each side of the partition. During this condition, multicast nodes can operate normally and there is no conflict until the partition heals. When the partition heals, duplicate group addresses will be detected and fixed. The group address with the earliest timestamp is used to determine who keeps the collided group address. All others will have to rehash a new group address and have the applications start using the new address (meaning senders will source using the new group address and receivers will leave the collided group and join the new group).

6.4. Releasing Group Addresses

When applications are no longer sending to a group address or not joined to a group address, they can inform the GAAP API to release the group. When this happens, the GAAP protocol stops claiming the group address in periodic messages and will not respond to a Claim for this address for a different group name. It is important for receiver applications to leave the group before releasing the group address.

7. Security Considerations

It is strongly suggested that the GAAP protocol run over an encrypted multicast channel. The encryption algorithm and key management procedure is not specified in this document. The message Marker is used to indicate if the packet is sent in plaintext or ciphertext. If the Marker is not set to 0xAAAAAAAA and the receiver does not have a shared-key configured, the message MUST be dropped.

An open-source GAAP implementation exists where ChaCha20 [RFC7539] is used to encrypt GAAP messages. The implementation's key management procedure is a simple shared key that is configured with the application.

At this time there is no dynamic rekeying procedure and is left for future work. Therefore, all nodes must be manually rekeyed when a node is removed from the encrypted channel.

The following attack threats may exist with possible mitigation techniques:

8. IANA Considerations

IANA will create the following registry in a new registry group called "Group Address Allocation Protocol (GAAP)":

      Registry Name: Group Address Allocation Protocol (GAAP)
      Registration Procedure: IETF Review

8.1. GAAP UDP Port Numbers

IANA will create one UDP port number for the GAAP protocol:

Table 1
Service Name Port Number Transport Protocol Description Reference
gaap TBD udp GAAP Control Packets draft-farinacci-pim-gaap

8.2. GAAP Protocol Multicast Addresses

IANA will create one multicast address from the IPv4 Internetwork Control Block 224.0.1.x and one multicast address from the IPv6 Variable Scope Multicast Addresses Block FF0X::TBD for the operation of the GAAP protocol. The registry description field should indicate "GAAP".

8.3. GAAP Multicast Group Allocation Ranges

IANA will create two multicast address ranges for the GAAP protocol to allocate application-use addresses from. For IPv4, a /8 block in a new registry range is requested. For IPv6, a /32 block in a new registry range is being requested.

        Registry Name: GAAP IPv4 Allocation Range
        Registration Procedure: IETF Review
        Registry Name: GAAP IPv6 Allocation Range
        Registration Procedure: IETF Review

For IPv6 multicast addresses, the GAAP application allocation range should be in the new "Dynamic Multicast Group IDs" registry requested by [I-D.karstens-pim-updt-ipv6-dyn-mcast-addr-grp-id]. This new registry requests the division of the 32-bit group ID range 0xA0000000 through 0xAFFFFFFF. The GAAP allocation range should come out of this 32-bit range.

9. References

9.1. Normative References

Cerf, V., "ASCII format for network interchange", STD 80, RFC 20, DOI 10.17487/RFC0020, , <>.
Deering, S., "Host extensions for IP multicasting", STD 5, RFC 1112, DOI 10.17487/RFC1112, , <>.
Hinden, R. and S. Deering, "IP Version 6 Addressing Architecture", RFC 4291, DOI 10.17487/RFC4291, , <>.
Eastlake 3rd, D. and T. Hansen, "US Secure Hash Algorithms (SHA and SHA-based HMAC and HKDF)", RFC 6234, DOI 10.17487/RFC6234, , <>.
Olson, A., Eggert, P., and K. Murchison, "The Time Zone Information Format (TZif)", RFC 8536, DOI 10.17487/RFC8536, , <>.

9.2. Informative References

Karstens, N., Farinacci, D., and M. McBride, "Zeroconf Multicast Address Allocation Problem Statement and Requirements", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-ietf-pim-zeroconf-mcast-addr-alloc-ps-00, , <>.
Karstens, N., Farinacci, D., and M. McBride, "Updates to Dynamic IPv6 Multicast Address Group IDs", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-karstens-pim-updt-ipv6-dyn-mcast-addr-grp-id-02, , <>.
Hanna, S., Patel, B., and M. Shah, "Multicast Address Dynamic Client Allocation Protocol (MADCAP)", RFC 2730, DOI 10.17487/RFC2730, , <>.
Radoslavov, P., Estrin, D., Govindan, R., Handley, M., Kumar, S., and D. Thaler, "The Multicast Address-Set Claim (MASC) Protocol", RFC 2909, DOI 10.17487/RFC2909, , <>.
Haberman, B., "Allocation Guidelines for IPv6 Multicast Addresses", RFC 3307, DOI 10.17487/RFC3307, , <>.
Cheshire, S. and M. Krochmal, "Multicast DNS", RFC 6762, DOI 10.17487/RFC6762, , <>.
Nir, Y. and A. Langley, "ChaCha20 and Poly1305 for IETF Protocols", RFC 7539, DOI 10.17487/RFC7539, , <>.

Appendix A. Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the following people for their motivation to start this draft. They include Chris Hopps, Acee Lindem, David Lamparter, Jeff Tantsura, Nate Karstens, and Lenny Giuliano.

Appendix B. Document Change Log

B.1. Changes to draft-ietf-pim-gaap-01

B.2. Changes to draft-ietf-pim-gaap-00

B.3. Changes to draft-farinacci-pim-gaap-06

B.4. Changes to draft-farinacci-pim-gaap-05

B.5. Changes to draft-farinacci-pim-gaap-04

B.6. Changes to draft-farinacci-pim-gaap-03

B.7. Changes to draft-farinacci-pim-gaap-02

B.8. Changes to draft-farinacci-pim-gaap-01

B.9. Changes to draft-farinacci-pim-gaap-00

Authors' Addresses

Dino Farinacci
San Jose, CA
United States of America
Mike McBride
Santa Clara, CA
United States of America