Network Working Group                                        R. Braudes
Request for Comments: 1458                                    S. Zabele
                                                               May 1993

                  Requirements for Multicast Protocols

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard.  Distribution of this memo is


   Multicast protocols have been developed over the past several years
   to address issues of group communication.  Experience has
   demonstrated that current protocols do not address all of the
   requirements of multicast applications.  This memo discusses some of
   these unresolved issues, and provides a high-level design for a new
   multicast transport protocol, group address and membership authority,
   and modifications to existing routing protocols.

Table of Contents

   1.    Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.    The Image Communication Problem   . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.1   Scope   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.2   Requirements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.    Review of Existing Multicast Protocols  . . . . . . . . . .   4
   3.1   IP/Multicast  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   3.2   XTP   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   3.3   ST-II   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   3.4   MTP   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   3.5   Summary   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   4.    Reliable Adaptive Multicast Service   . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   4.1   The Multicast Group Authority   . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   4.1.1 Address Management  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   4.1.2 Service Registration, Requests, Release, and Group
         Membership Maintenance  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   4.2   The Reliable Adaptive Multicast Protocol (RAMP)   . . . . .  11
   4.2.1 Quality of Service Levels   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   4.2.2 Error Recovery  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   4.2.3 Flow Control  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
   4.3   Routing Support   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
   4.3.1 Path Set-up   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
   4.3.2 Path Tear-down  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15

Braudes & Zabele                                                [Page 1]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

   4.3.3 Multicast Routing Based on Quality of Service   . . . . . .  15
   4.3.4 Quality of Service Based Packet Loss  . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   5.    Interactions Among the Components: An Example   . . . . . .  15
   Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   Security Considerations   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19

1.  Introduction

   Multicast protocols have been developed to support group
   communications.  These protocols use a one-to-many paradigm for
   transmission, typically using class D Internet Protocol (IP)
   addresses to specify specific multicast groups.  While designing
   network services for reliable transmission of very large imagery as
   part of the DARPA-sponsored ImNet program, we have reviewed existing
   multicast protocols and have determined that none meet all of the
   requirements of image communications [3].  This RFC reviews the
   current state of multicast protocols, highlights the missing
   features, and motivates the design and development of an enhanced
   multicast protocol.

   First, the requirements for network services and underlying protocols
   related to image communications are presented.  Existing protocols
   are then reviewed, and an analysis of each protocol against the
   requirements is presented.  The analyses identify the need for a new
   multicast protocol.  Finally, the features of an ideal reliable
   multicast protocol that adapts to network congestion in the
   transmission of large data volumes are presented.  Additional network
   components needed to fully support the new protocol, including a
   Multicast Group Authority and modifications to existing routing
   protocols, are also introduced.

2.  The Image Communications Problem

2.1 Scope

   Image management and communications systems are evolving from film-
   based systems toward an all-digital environment where imagery is
   acquired, transmitted, analyzed, and stored using digital computer
   and communications technologies.  The throughput required for
   communicating large numbers of very large images is extremely large,
   consisting of thousands of terabytes of imagery per day.  Temporal
   requirements for capture and dissemination of single images are
   stringent, ranging from seconds to at most several minutes.  Imagery
   will be viewed by hundreds of geographically distributed users who
   will require on-demand, interactive access to the data.

Braudes & Zabele                                                [Page 2]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

   Traditional imaging applications involve images on the order of 512
   by 512 pixels.  In contrast, a single image used for remote sensing
   can have tens of thousands of pixels on a side.  Multiplying the data
   volume associated with remotely sensed images by even a small number
   of users clearly motivates moving beyond the current suite of
   reliable protocols.

   Basic image communication applications involve distribution of
   individual images to multiple users for both individual and
   collaborative analyses, and network efficiency requires the use of
   multicast protocols.  Areas where multicasting offers significant
   advantages include real-time image acquisition and dissemination,
   distribution of annotated image-based reports, and image
   conferencing.  Images are viewed on a heterogeneous set of
   workstations with differing processing and display capabilities,
   traveling over a heterogeneous network with bandwidths varying by up
   to six orders of magnitude between the initial down link and the
   slowest end user.

2.2 Requirements

   Multicast protocols used for image communications must address
   several requirements.  Setting up a multicast group first requires
   assigning a multicast group address.  All multicast traffic is then
   delivered to this address, which implies that all members of the
   group must be listening for traffic with this address.

   Within an image communications architecture such as that used for the
   ImNet program, diversity and adaptability can be accommodated by
   trading quality of service (i.e., image quality) with speed of
   transmission.  Multicast support for quality-speed trades can be
   realized either through the use of different multicast groups, where
   each group receives a different image quality, or through the use of
   a single hierarchical stream with routers (or users) extracting
   relevant portions.

   Due to the current inability of routers to support selective
   transmission of partial streams, a multiple stream approach is being
   used within ImNet.  Efficient operation using a multiple stream
   approach requires that users be able to switch streams very quickly,
   and that streams with no listeners not be disseminated.
   Consequently, rapid configuration of multicast groups and rapid
   switching between multicast groups switching is essential.

   Inevitably, network congestion or buffer overruns result in packet
   loss. A full range of transport reliability is required within an
   image communications framework. For some applications such as image
   conferencing, packet loss does not present a problem as dropped mouse

Braudes & Zabele                                                [Page 3]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

   movements can be discarded with no meaningful degradation in utility.
   However, for functions such as image archiving or detailed image
   analysis, transport must be completely reliable, where any dropped
   packets must be retransmitted by the sender.  Additionally, several
   hierarchical image compression methods can provide useful, albeit
   degraded, imagery using a semi-reliable service, where higher level
   data is transmitted reliably and the lower level data is transmitted

   In support of reliable transport, image communications services must
   also support adaptation to network congestion using flow control
   mechanisms.  Flow control regulates the quantity of data placed on
   the network per unit time interval, thereby increasing network
   efficiency by reducing the number of dropped packets and avoiding the
   need for large numbers of retransmissions.

3.  Review of Existing Multicast Protocols

   Several existing protocols provide varying levels of support for
   multicasting, including IP/Multicast [5], the Xpress Transfer
   Protocol (XTP) [11], and Experimental Internet Stream Protocol
   Version 2 (ST-II) [10].  While the Versatile Message Transaction
   Protocol (VMTP) [4] also supports multicast, it has been designed to
   support the transfer of small packets, and so is not appropriate for
   large image communications.  Additionally, a specification exists for
   the Multicast Transport Protocol (MTP) [2].

   The image communication requirements for a multicast protocol include
   multicast group address assignment, group set-up, membership
   maintenance (i.e., join, drop, and switch membership), group tear-
   down, error recovery, and flow control, as presented above.  The
   remainder of this section discusses how well each of the existing
   protocols meets these requirements.

3.1 IP/Multicast

   IP/Multicast is an extension to the standard IP network-level
   protocol that supports multicast traffic.  IP/Multicast has no
   address allocation mechanism, with addresses assigned either by an
   outside authority or by each application.  This has the potential for
   address contention among multiple applications, which would result in
   the traffic from the different groups becoming commingled.

   There is no true set-up processing for IP/Multicast; once an address
   is determined, the sender simply transmits packets to that address
   with routers determining the path(s) taken by the data.  The receiver
   side is only slightly more complex, as an application must issue an
   add membership request for IP to listen to traffic destined to the

Braudes & Zabele                                                [Page 4]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

   desired address.  If this is the first member of a group, IP
   multicasts the request to routers on the local network using the
   Internet Group Multicast Protocol (IGMP) for inclusion in routing
   tables.  Multicast packets are then routed like all other IP packets,
   with receivers accepting traffic addressed to joined groups in
   addition to the normal host address.

   A major problem with the IP/Multicast set-up approach is informing
   hosts of multicast group addresses.  If addresses are dynamically
   allocated, then a mechanism must be established for informing
   receivers which addresses have been assigned to which groups.  This
   requires a minimum of one round trip time, with an address requested
   from a server and then returned to the receiver.

   Dropping membership in a group involves issuing a request to the
   local IP, which decrements the count of members in the IP tables.
   However, no special action is taken when group membership goes to
   zero.  Instead, a heartbeat mechanism is used in which hosts are
   periodically polled for active groups, and routers stop forwarding
   group traffic to a network only after several polls receive no
   activity requests for that group to ensure that a membership report
   is not lost or corrupted in transit.  This causes the problem of
   unneeded traffic being transmitted, due to a long periodicity for the
   heartbeat (minimum of one minute between polls); consequently there
   is no method for quickly dropping a group over a given path, impeding
   attempts to react to network congestion in real-time.

   Finally, there is no transport level protocol compatible with
   IP/Multicast that is both reliable and implements a flow control

3.2 XTP

   XTP is a combined network and transport level protocol that offers
   significant support for multicast transfers.  As with IP/Multicast,
   XTP offers no inherent address management scheme, so that an outside
   authority is required.

   XTP is also similar to IP/Multicast as there is no explicit set-up
   processing between the sender and the receivers prior to the
   establishment of group communications.  While there is implicit
   processing in key management, an external mechanism is required for
   passing the multicast group address to the receivers.  The receivers
   must have established "filters" for the address prior to transmission
   in order to receive the data, and suffers the same problems as

   In contrast to IP/Multicast, XTP does require explicit handshaking

Braudes & Zabele                                                [Page 5]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

   between the sender and receivers that wish to join an existing group;
   however, there is no parallel communication for receivers dropping
   out of groups, and the only mechanism for a sender to know if there
   are any receivers is the polling scheme used for error control and
   recovery.  This causes the same problems with sending traffic to
   groups without members discussed under IP/Multicast.

   The XTP specification does not address how routers distribute a
   multicast stream among different connected networks; however it does
   include a discussion of the optional bucket, damping, slotting, and
   cloning algorithms to reduce duplicate multicast traffic within a
   local network.

   The specification allows the user to determine whether multicast
   transfers are unreliable or semi-reliable, where semi-reliable
   transfers are defined to provide a "high-probability of success [9]"
   of delivery to all receivers.  Reliability cannot be guaranteed due
   to the fact that XTP does not maintain the cardinality of the
   receiver set, and so cannot know that the data has been received by
   all hosts.

   XTP recovers from errors using a go-back-n approach (assuming that
   the bucket algorithm has been implemented) by retransmitting dropped
   packets to all members of the multicast group, as group members are
   unknown.  This has the potential of flooding the network if only a
   single receiver dropped a packet. If all dropped packets belong to a
   single network on an internet, with traffic generated over the entire
   connected network.

3.3 ST-II

   ST-II is another network protocol that provides support for multicast
   communications.  Similar to IP/Multicast and XTP, ST-II requires a
   separate application-specific protocol for assigning and
   communicating multicast group addresses.

   While ST-II is a network level protocol, it guarantees end-to-end
   bandwidth and delay, and so obviates the need for many of the
   functions of a transport protocol.  The guarantee is provided by
   requiring bandwidth reservations for all connections, which are made
   at set-up time, and ensuring that the requested bandwidth is
   available throughout the lifetime of the connection.  The enforcement
   policy ensures that the same path is followed for all transmissions,
   and prohibits new connections over the network unless there is
   sufficient bandwidth to accommodate the expected traffic.  This is
   accomplished by maintaining the state of all connections in the
   network routers, trading the overhead of this connection set-up for
   the performance guarantees.

Braudes & Zabele                                                [Page 6]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

   Connection set-up involves negotiation of the bandwidth and delay
   parameters and path between the sender, intermediate routers, and
   receivers. If the requested resources cannot be made available, the
   sender is given the option of either accepting what is available or
   canceling the connection request.

   To add a new user to an existing group, the new receiver must first
   communicate directly with the sender using a different protocol to
   exchange relevant information such as the group address.  The sender
   then requests ST-II to add the new receiver, with the basic
   connection set-up processing invoked as before with the new
   connection completed only if there is sufficient bandwidth to process
   the user.

   While the resource guarantee system imposed by ST-II tries to prevent
   network congestion from occurring, there are situations where
   priority traffic must be introduced into the network.  ST-II makes
   this very expensive, as the resource requirements for existing
   connections must be adjusted, which can only be accomplished by the
   origin of each stream.  This must be completed prior to the
   connection set-up for the priority stream, introducing a large delay
   before the important data can be transmitted.

   ST-II connections can be closed by either the sender or the receiver.
   When the last receiver along a path has been removed, the resources
   allocated over that path are released.  When all receivers have been
   removed, the sender in informed and has the option of either adding a
   new receiver or tearing down the group.

3.4 MTP

   MTP is a transport level protocol designed to support efficient,
   reliable multicast transmissions on top of existing network protocols
   such as IP/Multicast.  It is based on the notion of a multicast
   "master" which controls all aspects of group communications.

   Allocation of a specific group address, or network service access
   point, is not considered part of MTP, and as with the other multicast
   protocols requires the use of an outside addressing authority.  The
   MTP specification does require the master to make a "robust effort
   [2]" to ensure the address selected is not already in use by trying
   to join an existing group at that address, but the problems described
   above remain.

   Once the address is established, receivers issue a request to join
   the existing group using a unique connection identifier that is pre-
   assigned.  The MTP specification addresses neither how the identifier
   is allocated nor how the receivers learn its value, but is assumed to

Braudes & Zabele                                                [Page 7]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

   be handled through an external protocol.  The join request specifies
   whether the receiver wishes to be a producer of information or only a
   receiver, whether the connection should be reliable or best effort,
   whether the receiver is able to accept multiple senders of
   information, the minimum throughput desired, and the maximum data
   packet size.  If the request can be granted, then the master replies
   with an ACK with a multicast connection identifier; otherwise a NAK
   is returned.

   Dropping membership in a group is coordinated through the master.
   The specification does not address what action the master should take
   when the group is reduced to a single member, but a logical action
   would be to stop distributing transmit tokens if there are no active

   One of the major features in MTP is the ordering of received data.
   The master distributes transmit tokens to data producers in the
   group, which allow data to be provided at a specified rate.  Rate
   control provides flow control within the protocol, with members that
   cannot maintain a minimum flow requested to leave the group.

   Error recovery utilizes a NAK-based selective retransmission scheme.
   Senders are required to maintain data for a time period specified by
   the master, and to be able to retransmit this data when requested by
   members of the group.  These retransmissions are multicast to the
   entire group, requiring receivers to be able to cope with duplicate
   packets.  If a retransmission request arrives after the data has been
   released, the sender must NAK the request.

   A potential problem with MTP is the significant amount of overhead
   associated with the protocol, with virtually all control traffic
   flowing through the master.  The extra delay and congestion makes MTP
   inappropriate for the image dissemination applications.

3.5 Summary

   Our analysis has determined that there are significant problems with
   all of the major multicast protocols for the reliable, adaptive
   multicast transport of large data items.  The problems include
   inadequate address management, excessive processing of control
   information, poor response to network congestion, inability to handle
   high priority traffic, and suboptimal error recovery and
   retransmission procedures.  We have developed a high-level notion of
   the requirements for a service that addresses these issues, which we
   now discuss.

Braudes & Zabele                                                [Page 8]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

4.  Protocol Suite for Reliable, Adaptive Multicast

   We present an integrated set of three basic components required to
   provide a reliable multicast service: the Multicast Group Authority
   (MGA); the Reliable, Adaptive Multicast Protocol (RAMP); and modified
   routing algorithms.  These components are designed to be compatible
   with, and take full advantage of, reservation systems such as RSVP

   In this discussion, we have broadened the definition of the term
   "Quality of Service (QOS)."  There are many applications where the
   information content of the underlying data can be reduced through
   data compression techniques.  For example, a 1,024 x 1,024 pixel
   image can be sub-sampled down to 512 x 512 pixels.  This degradation
   results in a lower quality of service for the end user, while
   reducing the traditional network QOS requirements for the transfer.

4.1 The Multicast Group Authority

   The Multicast Group Authority (MGA) provides services related to
   managing the multicast address space and high-level management
   support to existing multicast groups.  The MGA has three primary
   responsibilities: address management, service registration, and group
   membership maintenance.

   The MGA is hierarchical in nature, similar to the Internet Domain
   Name System (DNS) [7].  Requests for service are directed to an MGA
   agent on the local workstation, which are propagated upwards as

4.1.1 Address Management

   The MGA is responsible for the allocation and deallocation of
   addresses within the Internet Class D address space.  Address
   requests received from application processes or other MGA nodes
   result in a block of addresses being assigned to the requesting MGA
   node.  The size of the address block allocated is dependent on the
   position of the requester in the MGA hierarchy, to reduce the number
   of address requests propagated through the MGA tree.

   Figure 1 can be used to show what happens when an application
   requests a multicast address from the authority at node 1.1.1.
   Assuming that this is the first request from this branch of the MGA,
   node 1.1.1 issues a request to its parent, node 1.1, which propagates
   the request to node 1.  Node 1 passes this request to the root, which
   issues a block of, say, 30 class D addresses.  Of these 30, 10 are
   returned to node 1.1, with the remaining 20 reserved for requests
   from node 1's other children. Similarly, node 1.1 passes 3 addresses

Braudes & Zabele                                                [Page 9]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

   to node 1.1.1, reserving the other 7 for future requests.  Finally,
   node 1.1.1 answers the applications request for an address, keeping
   the remaining 2 addresses for future use.

                         | root |
                          /  |  \
                         /   |   \
                  --------       --------
                  |   1  |  ...  |   n  |
                  --------       --------
                   /  |  \
                  /   |   \
           --------       --------
           |  1.1 |  ...  |  1.n |
           --------       --------
            /  |  \
           /   |   \
        --------       --------
        |1.1.1 |  ...  |1.1.n |
        --------       --------

                    Figure 1.  Sample MGA Hierarchy

   When the root exhausts the address space, a request is made to the
   children for reclamation of unused addresses.  This request
   propagates down the tree, with unused addresses passed back through
   the hierarchy and returned to the address pool.  If the entire
   address space is in use, then requests for additional addresses are
   not honored.

   When an application no longer requires an address, it is returned to
   the local MGA node, which keeps it until either it is requested by
   another application, it is requested by its parent, or the node is
   terminated.  At node termination, all available addresses are
   returned to the parent.  Parents periodically send heartbeat requests
   to their children to ensure connectivity, and local nodes similarly
   poll applications, with addresses recalled if the queries are not

4.1.2 Service Registration, Requests, Release, and Group Membership

   The MGA maintains the state of all registered multicast services and
   receivers.  State information includes the number of members
   associated with each group by requested QOS reliability, which is
   updated as services are offered or rescinded and as members join or

Braudes & Zabele                                               [Page 10]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

   leave a group.  The state information is used to ensure that there is
   at least one group member listening to each multicast transfer.

   Servers register the availability of service, specifying whether
   reliable service is available [section 4.2.2] and optionally the
   number of qualities of service offered [section 4.2.1].  A multicast
   group address is allocated from the address pool and the service is
   assigned an identifier as required.  If a reservation protocol that
   requires information from the server (such as RSVP) is in use, then
   the MGA notifies the reservation system of the service with any
   required parameters.  The service registration is propagated through
   the MGA, so that potential clients can discover service availability.
   However, servers do not begin data transfers until directed to do so
   by the MGA.

   Client requests for service are also processed through the MGA.
   Service requests specify a service, a desired quality of service, and
   a reliability indication.  If the request is for a service that has
   been registered, then the routing support is directed to add a route
   for the new user [section 4.3.1].  If necessary, the MGA also
   notifies the reservation protocol.  If either the requested QOS is
   not being provided or it is provided unreliably and the request is
   for reliable transport, then the service provider is also notified.
   If the service has not yet been registered, an identifier for the
   service is assigned and the request is queued for when the service is
   registered.  In either case, a response is sent to the requester.

   Requests for termination of group membership are also sent to the
   MGA.  If the request originates at a client, the MGA notifies the
   routing function and reservation protocol of the termination in case
   the route should be released [section 4.3.2].  If termination results
   in a given QOS no longer having any recipients, the service provider
   is notified that the QOS is no longer required and should not be
   transmitted.  Server-directed group terminations follow a similar
   procedure, with all clients of the group notified, and the service
   offering is removed from the MGA state tables.

4.2 The Reliable Adaptive Multicast Protocol (RAMP)

   RAMP is a transport-level protocol designed to provide reliable
   multicast service on top of a network protocol such as IP/Multicast,
   with unreliable transport also available.  RAMP is build on the
   premise that applications can request one quality of service (using
   our extended definition), but only require reliable transmission at a
   lower level of quality.  For example, consider the transmission of
   hierarchical image data, in which a base spatial resolution is
   transmitted, followed by higher resolution data.  An application may
   require the base data to be sent reliably, but can tolerate dropped

Braudes & Zabele                                               [Page 11]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

   packets for the higher resolution by using interpolation or pixel
   replication from the base level to approximate the missing data.
   Similar methods can be applied to other data types, such as audio or

4.2.1 Quality of Service Levels

   RAMP allows a multicast service to be provided at multiple qualities
   of service, with all or some of these levels transmitted reliably.
   These QOS can be distributed across different groups using different
   class D addresses, or in the simplest case be transmitted in
   individual groups.  Single packets can be used for either a single
   QOS, or may be applicable to multiple qualities of service.

   When a data packet is transmitted, a header field indicates the QOS
   level(s) associated with that packet.  In the old IP implementations,
   the Type of Service field can be used as a bit field with one bit for
   each applicable QOS, although this is incompatible with RFC 1349 [1].
   If a packet is required for multiple QOS, then multiple values are
   encoded in the field.  The RAMP host receiver protocol only accepts
   those packets addressed to a group in which an application has
   requested membership and that has a QOS value which is in the set of
   values requested by the receivers.

   The quality of service requested within a flow can be modified during
   the life of the flow.  QOS modification requests are forwarded to the
   MGA, which reduces the number of receivers in the original QOS group
   and increments the count for the requested QOS.  These changes are
   propagated through the MGA hierarchy, with the server notified if
   either the original QOS has no remaining receivers or if the new QOS
   is not currently being served; similarly, the routers are notified if
   routing changes are required.

4.2.2 Error Recovery

   Sequence numbers are used in RAMP to determine the ordering of
   packets within a multicast group.  Mechanisms for ordering packets
   transmitted from different senders is a current research topic [2,
   6], and an appropriate sequencing algorithm will be incorporated
   within the protocol.

   Applications exist that do not require in-order delivery of data; for
   example, some image servers include position identification
   information in each packet.  To enhance the efficiency of such
   schemes, RAMP includes an option to allow out-or-order delivery of
   packets to a receiver.

Braudes & Zabele                                               [Page 12]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

   A NAK-based selective retransmission scheme is used in RAMP to
   minimize the protocol overhead associated with ACK-based schemes.
   When a receiver notices that one or more packets have not been
   received, and the transmission is reliable, a request is sent to the
   sender for the span of packets which are missing.

   RAMP at the sender aggregates retransmission requests for the time
   specified by the retransmission hold timer [section 4.2.3].  After
   this time, the requests are evaluated to determine if sufficient
   receivers dropped a given packet to make multicasting the
   retransmission worthwhile by comparing it to a threshold value.  All
   packets that have received a number of retransmission requests
   greater than the threshold are multicast to the group address, with
   other packets unicast to the individual requesters.  The proposed
   retransmission scheme is a compromise between the extremes of
   multicasting and unicasting all retransmissions.  The rationale is
   that multicasting a request issued by a single sender unnecessarily
   floods networks which had no packet loss, while unicasting to a large
   number of receivers floods the entire network.  The optimal approach,
   dynamically constructing a new multicast group for each dropped
   packet, is currently too costly in terms of group set-up time.

   For those cases where the service provider is unable to retransmit
   the data due to released or overwritten buffers, the protocol
   delivers NAK responses using either multicast or unicast based on the
   number of retransmission requests received.

4.2.3 Flow Control

   RAMP utilizes a rate-based flow control mechanism that derives rate
   reductions from requests for retransmission or router back-off
   requests (i.e., ICMP source quench messages), and derives rate
   increases from the number of packets transmitted without
   retransmission requests.  When a retransmission request is received,
   the protocol uses the number of packets requested to compute a rate
   reduction factor.  Similarly, a different reduction factor is
   computed upon receipt of a router-generated squelch request.  The
   rate reduction factors are then used to compute a reduced rate of

   When a given number of packets have been transmitted without packet
   loss, the rate of transmission is incrementally increased. The size
   of the increase will always be smaller than the size of the smallest
   rate decrease, in order to minimize throttling.

   The retransmission hold timer is modified according to both
   application requests and network state.  As the number of
   retransmission requests rises, the hold timer is incremented to

Braudes & Zabele                                               [Page 13]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

   minimize the number of duplicate retransmissions.  Similarly, the
   timer is decremented as the number of retransmission requests drops.

   RAMP allows for priority traffic, which is marked in the packet
   header.  The protocol transmits a variable number of packets from
   each sending process in proportion to the priority of the flow.

4.3 Routing Support

   The protocol suite requires routing support for four functions: path
   set-up, path tear-down, forwarding based on QOS values, and
   prioritized packet loss due to congestion.  The support must be
   integrated into routers and network-level protocols in a similar
   fashion to IGMP [8].

   Partial support comes as a direct consequence of using reservation
   protocols such as RSVP.  This RFC does not mandate the means of
   implementing the required functions, and the specified protocols are
   compatible with known reservation protocols.

   The routers state tables must maintain both the multicast group
   address and the QOS level(s) requested for each group on each
   outbound interface in order to make appropriate routing decisions
   [section 4.3.3].  Therefore, the router state tables are updated
   whenever group membership changes, including QOS changes.

4.3.1 Path Set-up

   Routers receive path set-up requests from the MGA as required when
   new members join a multicast group, which specifies the incoming and
   outgoing interfaces, the group address, and the QOS associated with
   the request.  When the message is received, the router establishes a
   path between the server and the receiver, and subsequently updates
   the multicast group state table.  The mechanism used to discern the
   network interfaces is not specified, but may take advantage of other
   protocols such as the RSVP path and reservation mechanism.

4.3.2 Path Tear-down

   Path tear-down requests are also propagated through the routers by
   the MGA when group membership changes or QOS changes no longer
   require data to be sent over a given route.  These are used to inform
   routers of both deletions of QOS for a given path and deletions of
   entire paths.  The purpose of the message is to explicitly remove
   route table entries in order to minimize the time required to stop
   forwarding multicast data across networks once the path is no longer

Braudes & Zabele                                               [Page 14]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

4.3.3 Multicast Routing Based on Quality of Service

   Traditional multicast routing formulates route/don't route decisions
   based on the destination address in the packet header, with packets
   duplicated as necessary to reach all destinations.  In the proposed
   new protocol suite, routers also consult the QOS field for each
   packet as different paths may have requested different qualities of
   service.  Packets are only forwarded if the group address has been
   requested and the quality of service specified in the header is
   requested in the state table entry for a given interface.

4.3.4 Quality of Service Based Packet Loss

   Network congestion causes router queues to overflow, and as a result
   packet loss occurs.  The QOS and priority indications in the packet
   headers can be used to prioritize the order in which packets are
   dropped.  First, packets with the priority field set in the header
   are dropped last.  Within packets of equal priority, packets are
   dropped in order of QOS, with the highest QOS packets dropped first.
   The rationale is that other packets with lower QOS may be usable by
   receivers, while packets with high QOS may not be usable without the
   lower QOS data.

5.  Interactions Among the Components: An Example

   The MGA, RAMP, and routing support functions all cooperate in the
   multicast process.  As an example, assume that a network exists with
   a single server (S), three routers (R1, R2, and R3), and two clients
   (C1 and C2).  The path between S and C1 goes through R1 and R2, while
   the path between S and C2 goes through R1, R2, and R3.  The network
   is shown in figure 2.

                S ------- R1 -------- R2 -------- R3
                          |           |
                          C1          C2

                Figure 2.  Sample Network Configuration

   Service Registration

   When S is initiated, it registers a service with the MGA node in
   the local workstation, offering reliable service at two qualities
   of service, Q1 and Q2.  As this is the first multicast offering on
   the workstation, the local MGA requests a block of multicast
   addresses from the hierarchy, and assigns an address and service
   identifier to S.  If the RSVP reservation protocol is in operation,
   the local MGA node in S notifies RSVP to send a RpathS
   message out for the service, which goes through R1, R2, and R3,

Braudes & Zabele                                               [Page 15]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

   reaching the RSVP nodes on C1 and C2.  The service and its
   characteristics are propagated throughout the MGA hierarchy,
   ultimately reaching the MGA nodes resident on C1 and C2.  The
   service is now available throughout the network.

   Service Request and Path Set-up

   The client C1 requests reliable service from S at QOS Q1, by
   issuing a request to the MGA node in C1.  If a reservation protocol
   is in use, then it is used to reserve bandwidth and establish a
   path between the sender and receiver, going through R1 and R2;
   otherwise, the path is established through R1 and R2 by the routing
   protocol.  R1 now forwards all packets from S with QOS Q1 along the
   path to R2, which routes them to C1.  In concert with the path
   set-up, the add membership request is propagated through MGA to the
   server workstation.  The local MGA tables are checked and it is
   noted that the service is not currently being offered, so the
   server is notified to begin reliable distribution of the service at

   Initial Delivery

   The server now begins transmitting Q1 data which is observed by R1.
   R1 inspects the header and notes that the packet has QOS Q1.  The
   routing tables specify that QOS Q1 for this address are only
   forwarded along the interface leading to R2, and R1 acts
   accordingly.  Similarly, R2 routes the packet to C1.  When the data
   arrives at C1, the RAMP node inspects the QOS and destination
   address fields in the header, accepts the packet, and forwards it
   to the C1 client process.

   Error Recovery

   During transmission, if the RAMP node in C1 realizes that packets
   have been dropped, a retransmission request is returned to the
   server identifying spans of the missing packets.  The RAMP node
   accepts the packet, builds the retransmission packets, and sets the
   retransmission hold timer.  When the timer expires, the number of
   retransmission requests for each missing packet is compared against
   the threshold, and the packets are either unicast directly to the
   requesters or multicast to the entire group.  As in this case there
   is only requester, the threshold is not exceeded and the packets
   are retransmitted to C1Us unicast address.

   Group Membership Addition

   Client C2 now joins the group, requesting reliable transmission at
   QOS Q2.  Following the process used for C1, the request propagates

Braudes & Zabele                                               [Page 16]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

   through the MGA (and potentially reservation protocol) hierarchy.
   Upon completion of the request processing, R1 routes packets for
   QOS Q1 and Q2 to R2, while R2 forwards QOS Q1 packets to C1 and Q2
   packets to R3; client C1 only accepts packets marked as Q1 while C2
   only accepts Q2 packets.  The server is notified that it now has
   clients for Q2, and begins serving that QOS in addition to Q1.

   QOS Based Routing

   First, assume that QOS Q1 data is independent of QOS Q2 data.  When
   the server sends a packet with Q1 marked in the header, the packet
   is received by R1 and is forwarded to R2.  R2 receives the packet,
   and sends it out the interface to C1, but not to R3.  Next, the
   server delivers a packet for Q2.  R1 receives the packet and sends
   it to R2, which forwards it to R3 but not to C1.  R3 accepts the
   packet, and forwards it to C2.

   Now, assume that either Q2 is a subset of Q1, or that receivers of
   Q1 data also require Q2 data as in conditional compression schemes.
   Therefore, all Q2 packets are marked for both Q1 and Q2, while the
   remaining Q1 packets only have Q1 set in the header.  Q1-only
   packets are routed as before, following the path S -> R1 -> R2 ->
   C1.  However, Q2 packets are now routed from S to R1 to R2, at
   which point R2 duplicates the packets and sends them to both C1 and
   R3, with R3 forwarding them to C2.  At C1, these packets have Q1
   marked, and so are accepted, while at C2 the packet is accepted as
   the Q2 bit is verified.

   Group Membership Deletion

   When C1 issues a drop membership request, the MGA on the client
   workstation is notified, and the request is propagated through the
   MGA hierarchy back to the server MGA node.  In parallel, the
   routers are notified to close the path, as it is no longer
   required, possibly through the reservation protocol.  As this is
   the last client for the Q1 QOS, the server is informed to stop
   transmitting Q1 data, with Q2 data unaffected.  A similar process
   occurs when C2 drops membership from the group, leaving the server
   idle.  At this point, the server has the option of shutting down
   and returning the group address to the MGA, or to continue in an
   idle state until another client requests service.


   This research was supported in part by the Defense Research
   Projects Agency (DARPA) under contract number F19618-91-C-0086.

Braudes & Zabele                                               [Page 17]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993


   [1] Almquist, P., "Type of Service in the Internet Protocol Suite",
       RFC 1349, Consultant, July 1992.

   [2] Armstrong, S., Freier, A., and K. Marzullo, "Multicast Transport
       Protocol", RFC 1301, Xerox, Apple, Cornell University, February

   [3] Braudes, R., and S. Zabele, "A Reliable, Adaptive Multicast
       Service for High-Bandwidth Image Dissemination", submitted to ACM
       SIGCOMM '93.

   [4] Cheriton, D., "VMTP: Versatile Message Transaction Protocol", RFC
       1045, Stanford University, February 1988.

   [5] Deering, S., "Host Extensions for IP Multicasting", STD 5, RFC
       1112, Stanford University, August 1989.

   [6] Mayer, E., "An Evaluation Framework for Multicast Ordering
       Protocols", Proceedings ACM SIGCOMM '92, Baltimore, Maryland, pp.

   [7] Mockapetris, P., "Domain Names - Concepts and Facilities," STD
       13, RFC 1034, USC/Information Sciences Institute, November 1987.

   [8] Postel, J., "Internet Control Message Protocol - DARPA Internet
       Program Protocol Specification", STD 5, RFC 792, USC/Information
       Sciences Institute, September 1981.

   [9] Strayer, W., Dempsey, B., and A. Weaver, "XTP: The Xpress
       Transfer Protocol", Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Reading, MA,

  [10] Topolcic, C., Editor, "Experimental Internet Stream Protocol,
       Version 2 (ST- II)", RFC 1190, CIP Working Group, October 1990.

  [11] "XTP Protocol Definition Revision 3.6", Protocol Engines
       Incorporated, PEI 92-10, Mountain View, CA, 11 January 1992.

  [12] Zhang, L., Deering, S., Estrin, D., Shenker, S., and D. Zappala,
       "RSVP: A New Resource ReSerVation Protocol", Work in Progress,
       March 1993.

Braudes & Zabele                                               [Page 18]

RFC 1458          Requirements for Multicast Protocols          May 1993

Security Considerations

   Security issues are not discussed in this memo.

Authors' Addresses

   Bob Braudes
   55 Walkers Brook Drive
   Reading, MA 01867

   Phone:  (617) 942-2000

   Steve Zabele
   55 Walkers Brook Drive
   Reading, MA 01867

   Phone:  (617) 942-2000

Braudes & Zabele                                               [Page 19]