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IPv6 Routers Get a Run-Through

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
2/26/2003

A recent test of routers designed to handle Internet Protocol (IP) version 6, an improved version of the protocol used for Internet traffic, highlights progress and the need for further development.

Results of the test, which was conducted by BII Group, a Beijing-based institute that's led the charge on rolling out a commercial IPv6 network in China, are presented and summarized in a new Light Reading report (see IPv6 Router Test).

By and large, the IPv6 routers in the test conform with key standards, they interoperate with each other, and they deliver good performance in most circumstances. But there's clearly room for improvement.

In his report, Hua Ning, BII's CTO, studiously avoids criticizing vendors or their equipment and says the tests weren't intended as a performance comparison anyhow. All the same, the results invite such comparisons, which are undertaken in Light Reading's report, culled from Ning's results.

Conducted with equipment from Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A), the test included the M20 from Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR), as well as the following routers from Japanese vendors that have focused on enhancing their wares to deliver high performance when handling IPv6 traffic:

By demonstrating the availability of high performance equipment, the test adds to the momentum building behind IPv6. And of course, that raises a question: Why didn't Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) participate in this test? A Cisco spokeswoman told Light Reading today (Feb. 26) that "the request to support the Beijing Internet Institute test came in too late for Cisco China to pull together the equipment and prepare the test bed, so we had to decline."

The test also points to the need for further development work among router vendors. In particular, the maximum number of routing table entries handled by the Japanese equipment is very low. And some of the routers also appear to struggle when handling floods of small packets.

It could be argued that vendors have got plenty of time to address these points. The amount of IPv6 traffic at Internet exchange points is still very low. Still, service providers need to think ahead when they're buying core routers – and IPv6 traffic volumes could explode in the coming years, as wireless access to the Internet takes hold. This is particularly true in the Asia/Pacific region, where the shortage of IPv4 addresses is most acute.

The full report is here: IPv6 Router Test.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Want a deeper understanding of the issues involved in integrating IP and optical technology? Check out the first module of Light Reading University's course on the topic. Click on this link to check it out for free!

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skeptic
skeptic
12/5/2012 | 12:33:47 AM
re: IPv6 Routers Get a Run-Through
The test also points to the need for further development work among router vendors. In particular, the maximum number of routing table entries handled by the Japanese equipment is very low.
-----------------
I have already pointed this out in the follow-ups
to the test report, but once again the testing
in the area of maximum routing table entries
in the report is flawed.

It does not measure the ability to route on
the number of prefixes specified, it only measures
the ability of the system (the software) to
learn the routes.

What that means is that the japanese products
could be worse than they look and that juniper
may also not be as good as it looks.

I'm not saying that anyone IS better or worse,
just that people should understand the limits
of the testing done.

BobbyMax
BobbyMax
12/5/2012 | 12:33:44 AM
re: IPv6 Routers Get a Run-Through
It appears that the tests conducted were adhoc. Any organization that does the testing should get it tesy plan and test cases reviewed openly. Then the test bed congiguration should also be agrred upon. The cost of testing should be bourne out by the participating vendors.
lr_monger
lr_monger
12/5/2012 | 12:33:33 AM
re: IPv6 Routers Get a Run-Through
Junipers ASICs were designed 4+ years ago for 32 -AND- 128 bit address processing. There is no difference internally the ASICs. The whole strategy is to let the performance speak for itself. Last year they delivered on a -complete- IPv6 control plane implemetation. I dare any vendor to challenge them. Cisco very wisely stepped away from this one, they knew that they had nothing to gain.
walter_100
walter_100
12/5/2012 | 12:33:32 AM
re: IPv6 Routers Get a Run-Through
Bobby,
Do you feel there is anything right in this industry?
Peter Heywood
Peter Heywood
12/5/2012 | 12:33:29 AM
re: IPv6 Routers Get a Run-Through
"The cost of testing should be bourne out by the participating vendors.".

I don't know what you mean by this, BobbyMax, but I should make it clear that the vendors did *NOT* pay to participate in this test, and most people would say that's a big plus, because it means they're less likely to have been in a position to suppress any unflattering results.
skeptic
skeptic
12/5/2012 | 12:33:22 AM
re: IPv6 Routers Get a Run-Through

Your beating up a straw man. The report actually
gives very little useful information about
juniper's ipv6 capabilities other than they are
clearly better than several immature products.

The testing is more noticable for the results
that were not provided than the ones that were.

And as far as things speaking for themselves,
Juniper's inability to preserve ordering among
packets in various situations spoke loud words
as well.
RussJ
RussJ
12/5/2012 | 12:33:09 AM
re: IPv6 Routers Get a Run-Through
Skeptic: "And as far as things speaking for themselves, Juniper's inability to preserve ordering among packets in various situations spoke loud words as well."

Skeptic, are you saying that reordering packets that are NOT within the same L3 or L4 flow is a bad thing?

So, if I have two flows, called "A" and "B", and "A" packets go to 100.0.0.0/8 and "B" packets go to 200.0.0.0/8, and they arrive at my ingress port A1, A2, B1, B2 but get transmitted: A1, B1, A2, B2, then you're unhappy about that?

Care to give some real operational reasons why this actually matters?

As long as order is preserved within a flow, I don't see an issue. Maybe you do. I'd be really interested in hearing it.

Russ.
skeptic
skeptic
12/5/2012 | 12:33:05 AM
re: IPv6 Routers Get a Run-Through
Skeptic, are you saying that reordering packets that are NOT within the same L3 or L4 flow is a bad thing?
--------------
I'm saying that nobody should deliberatly design
a system that reorders packets period. Most
L3/L4 flow tracking ends up making assumptions
about the content of packets and can often
additionally suffer from the unequal-distribution
(and other problems) in most load-balancing
schemes.

If you have reordering, you usually have a
resource that can't accomodate over a certain
amount of traffic. To fix that problem with
"flow awareness" you set yourself up for:

- Load balancing issues (i.e. dynamically
adjusting the number of flows accross the
congested resource)

- Fixed upper limits on the bandwidth that
can be associated with a particular flow
because the flow can't cross resource boundaries

- Flow identification issues.

All these can be solved, but its usually easier
to design the hardware correctly the first time
and to avoid all of the extra complexity.

Its alot easier to build the system with a
simple rule (no reordering) than to design it
to be "flow aware".

lyricji
lyricji
12/5/2012 | 12:33:03 AM
re: IPv6 Routers Get a Run-Through
any reason for no Cisco showup there?
skeptic
skeptic
12/5/2012 | 12:33:02 AM
re: IPv6 Routers Get a Run-Through
any reason for no Cisco showup there?
-------
Their IPv6 forwarding performance supposedly
has problems. They have a tough time in general
competiting with juniper on a technical basis.
They do best when there is no competition at
all or a phone call from john chambers can
win the deal.
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