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RFC 1812


Requirements for IP Version 4 Routers

Part 2 of 8, p. 16 to 39
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   This chapter does not contain any requirements.  However, it does
   contain useful background information on the general architecture of
   the Internet and of routers.

   General background and discussion on the Internet architecture and
   supporting protocol suite can be found in the DDN Protocol Handbook
   [ARCH:1]; for background see for example [ARCH:2], [ARCH:3], and
   [ARCH:4].  The Internet architecture and protocols are also covered
   in an ever-growing number of textbooks, such as [ARCH:5] and

2.1 Introduction

   The Internet system consists of a number of interconnected packet
   networks supporting communication among host computers using the
   Internet protocols.  These protocols include the Internet Protocol
   (IP), the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP), the Internet
   Group Management Protocol (IGMP), and a variety transport and
   application protocols that depend upon them.  As was described in
   Section [1.2], the Internet Engineering Steering Group periodically
   releases an Official Protocols memo listing all the Internet

   All Internet protocols use IP as the basic data transport mechanism.
   IP is a datagram, or connectionless, internetwork service and
   includes provision for addressing, type-of-service specification,

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   fragmentation and reassembly, and security.  ICMP and IGMP are
   considered integral parts of IP, although they are architecturally
   layered upon IP.  ICMP provides error reporting, flow control,
   first-hop router redirection, and other maintenance and control
   functions.  IGMP provides the mechanisms by which hosts and routers
   can join and leave IP multicast groups.

   Reliable data delivery is provided in the Internet protocol suite by
   Transport Layer protocols such as the Transmission Control Protocol
   (TCP), which provides end-end retransmission, resequencing and
   connection control.  Transport Layer connectionless service is
   provided by the User Datagram Protocol (UDP).

2.2 Elements of the Architecture

2.2.1 Protocol Layering

   To communicate using the Internet system, a host must implement the
   layered set of protocols comprising the Internet protocol suite.  A
   host typically must implement at least one protocol from each layer.

   The protocol layers used in the Internet architecture are as follows

   o Application Layer
      The Application Layer is the top layer of the Internet protocol
      suite.  The Internet suite does not further subdivide the
      Application Layer, although some application layer protocols do
      contain some internal sub-layering.  The application layer of the
      Internet suite essentially combines the functions of the top two
      layers - Presentation and Application - of the OSI Reference Model
      [ARCH:8].  The Application Layer in the Internet protocol suite
      also includes some of the function relegated to the Session Layer
      in the OSI Reference Model.

      We distinguish two categories of application layer protocols: user
      protocols that provide service directly to users, and support
      protocols that provide common system functions.  The most common
      Internet user protocols are:

      - Telnet (remote login)
      - FTP (file transfer)
      - SMTP (electronic mail delivery)

      There are a number of other standardized user protocols and many
      private user protocols.

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      Support protocols, used for host name mapping, booting, and
      management include SNMP, BOOTP, TFTP, the Domain Name System (DNS)
      protocol, and a variety of routing protocols.

      Application Layer protocols relevant to routers are discussed in
      chapters 7, 8, and 9 of this memo.

   o Transport Layer
      The Transport Layer provides end-to-end communication services.
      This layer is roughly equivalent to the Transport Layer in the OSI
      Reference Model, except that it also incorporates some of OSI's
      Session Layer establishment and destruction functions.

      There are two primary Transport Layer protocols at present:

      - Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)
      - User Datagram Protocol (UDP)

      TCP is a reliable connection-oriented transport service that
      provides end-to-end reliability, resequencing, and flow control.
      UDP is a connectionless (datagram) transport service.  Other
      transport protocols have been developed by the research community,
      and the set of official Internet transport protocols may be
      expanded in the future.

      Transport Layer protocols relevant to routers are discussed in
      Chapter 6.

   o Internet Layer
      All Internet transport protocols use the Internet Protocol (IP) to
      carry data from source host to destination host.  IP is a
      connectionless or datagram internetwork service, providing no
      end-to-end delivery guarantees.  IP datagrams may arrive at the
      destination host damaged, duplicated, out of order, or not at all.
      The layers above IP are responsible for reliable delivery service
      when it is required.  The IP protocol includes provision for
      addressing, type-of-service specification, fragmentation and
      reassembly, and security.

      The datagram or connectionless nature of IP is a fundamental and
      characteristic feature of the Internet architecture.

      The Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) is a control protocol
      that is considered to be an integral part of IP, although it is
      architecturally layered upon IP - it uses IP to carry its data
      end-to-end.  ICMP provides error reporting, congestion reporting,
      and first-hop router redirection.

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      The Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) is an Internet layer
      protocol used for establishing dynamic host groups for IP

      The Internet layer protocols IP, ICMP, and IGMP are discussed in
      chapter 4.

   o Link Layer
      To communicate on a directly connected network, a host must
      implement the communication protocol used to interface to that
      network.  We call this a Link Layer protocol.

      Some older Internet documents refer to this layer as the Network
      Layer, but it is not the same as the Network Layer in the OSI
      Reference Model.

      This layer contains everything below the Internet Layer and above
      the Physical Layer (which is the media connectivity, normally
      electrical or optical, which encodes and transports messages).
      Its responsibility is the correct delivery of messages, among
      which it does not differentiate.

      Protocols in this Layer are generally outside the scope of
      Internet standardization; the Internet (intentionally) uses
      existing standards whenever possible.  Thus, Internet Link Layer
      standards usually address only address resolution and rules for
      transmitting IP packets over specific Link Layer protocols.
      Internet Link Layer standards are discussed in chapter 3.

2.2.2 Networks

   The constituent networks of the Internet system are required to
   provide only packet (connectionless) transport.  According to the IP
   service specification, datagrams can be delivered out of order, be
   lost or duplicated, and/or contain errors.

   For reasonable performance of the protocols that use IP (e.g., TCP),
   the loss rate of the network should be very low.  In networks
   providing connection-oriented service, the extra reliability provided
   by virtual circuits enhances the end-end robustness of the system,
   but is not necessary for Internet operation.

   Constituent networks may generally be divided into two classes:

     o Local-Area Networks (LANs)
        LANs may have a variety of designs.  LANs normally cover a small
        geographical area (e.g., a single building or plant site) and
        provide high bandwidth with low delays.  LANs may be passive

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        (similar to Ethernet) or they may be active (such as ATM).

     o Wide-Area Networks (WANs)
        Geographically dispersed hosts and LANs are interconnected by
        wide-area networks, also called long-haul networks.  These
        networks may have a complex internal structure of lines and
        packet-switches, or they may be as simple as point-to-point

2.2.3 Routers

   In the Internet model, constituent networks are connected together by
   IP datagram forwarders which are called routers or IP routers.  In
   this document, every use of the term router is equivalent to IP
   router.  Many older Internet documents refer to routers as gateways.

   Historically, routers have been realized with packet-switching
   software executing on a general-purpose CPU.  However, as custom
   hardware development becomes cheaper and as higher throughput is
   required, special purpose hardware is becoming increasingly common.
   This specification applies to routers regardless of how they are

   A router connects to two or more logical interfaces, represented by
   IP subnets or unnumbered point to point lines (discussed in section
   [2.2.7]).  Thus, it has at least one physical interface.  Forwarding
   an IP datagram generally requires the router to choose the address
   and relevant interface of the next-hop router or (for the final hop)
   the destination host.  This choice, called relaying or forwarding
   depends upon a route database within the router.  The route database
   is also called a routing table or forwarding table.  The term
   "router" derives from the process of building this route database;
   routing protocols and configuration interact in a process called

   The routing database should be maintained dynamically to reflect the
   current topology of the Internet system.  A router normally
   accomplishes this by participating in distributed routing and
   reachability algorithms with other routers.

   Routers provide datagram transport only, and they seek to minimize
   the state information necessary to sustain this service in the
   interest of routing flexibility and robustness.

   Packet switching devices may also operate at the Link Layer; such
   devices are usually called bridges.  Network segments that are
   connected by bridges share the same IP network prefix forming a
   single IP subnet.  These other devices are outside the scope of this

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2.2.4 Autonomous Systems

   An Autonomous System (AS) is a connected segment of a network
   topology that consists of a collection of subnetworks (with hosts
   attached) interconnected by a set of routes.  The subnetworks and the
   routers are expected to be under the control of a single operations
   and maintenance (O&M) organization.  Within an AS routers may use one
   or more interior routing protocols, and sometimes several sets of
   metrics.  An AS is expected to present to other ASs an appearence of
   a coherent interior routing plan, and a consistent picture of the
   destinations reachable through the AS.  An AS is identified by an
   Autonomous System number.

   The concept of an AS plays an important role in the Internet routing
   (see Section 7.1).

2.2.5 Addressing Architecture

   An IP datagram carries 32-bit source and destination addresses, each
   of which is partitioned into two parts - a constituent network prefix
   and a host number on that network.  Symbolically:

      IP-address ::= { <Network-prefix>, <Host-number> }

   To finally deliver the datagram, the last router in its path must map
   the Host-number (or rest) part of an IP address to the host's Link
   Layer address. Classical IP Addressing Architecture

   Although well documented elsewhere [INTERNET:2], it is useful to
   describe the historical use of the network prefix.  The language
   developed to describe it is used in this and other documents and
   permeates the thinking behind many protocols.

   The simplest classical network prefix is the Class A, B, C, D, or E
   network prefix.  These address ranges are discriminated by observing
   the values of the most significant bits of the address, and break the
   address into simple prefix and host number fields.  This is described
   in [INTERNET:18].  In short, the classification is:

        0xxx - Class A - general purpose unicast addresses with standard
        8 bit prefix
        10xx - Class B - general purpose unicast addresses with standard
        16 bit prefix

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        110x - Class C - general purpose unicast addresses with standard
        24 bit prefix
        1110 - Class D - IP Multicast Addresses - 28 bit prefix, non-
        1111 - Class E - reserved for experimental use

   This simple notion has been extended by the concept of subnets.
   These were introduced to allow arbitrary complexity of interconnected
   LAN structures within an organization, while insulating the Internet
   system against explosive growth in assigned network prefixes and
   routing complexity.  Subnets provide a multi-level hierarchical
   routing structure for the Internet system.  The subnet extension,
   described in [INTERNET:2], is a required part of the Internet
   architecture.  The basic idea is to partition the <Host-number> field
   into two parts: a subnet number, and a true host number on that

      IP-address ::=
        { <Network-number>, <Subnet-number>, <Host-number> }

   The interconnected physical networks within an organization use the
   same network prefix but different subnet numbers.  The distinction
   between the subnets of such a subnetted network is not normally
   visible outside of that network.  Thus, routing in the rest of the
   Internet uses only the <Network-prefix> part of the IP destination
   address.  Routers outside the network treat <Network-prefix> and
   <Host-number> together as an uninterpreted rest part of the 32-bit IP
   address.  Within the subnetted network, the routers use the extended
   network prefix:

      { <Network-number>, <Subnet-number> }

   The bit positions containing this extended network number have
   historically been indicated by a 32-bit mask called the subnet mask.
   The <Subnet-number> bits SHOULD be contiguous and fall between the
   <Network-number> and the <Host-number> fields.  More up to date
   protocols do not refer to a subnet mask, but to a prefix length; the
   "prefix" portion of an address is that which would be selected by a
   subnet mask whose most significant bits are all ones and the rest are
   zeroes.  The length of the prefix equals the number of ones in the
   subnet mask.  This document assumes that all subnet masks are
   expressible as prefix lengths.

   The inventors of the subnet mechanism presumed that each piece of an
   organization's network would have only a single subnet number.  In
   practice, it has often proven necessary or useful to have several
   subnets share a single physical cable.  For this reason, routers
   should be capable of configuring multiple subnets on the same

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   physical interfaces, and treat them (from a routing or forwarding
   perspective) as though they were distinct physical interfaces. Classless Inter Domain Routing (CIDR)

   The explosive growth of the Internet has forced a review of address
   assignment policies.  The traditional uses of general purpose (Class
   A, B, and C) networks have been modified to achieve better use of
   IP's 32-bit address space.  Classless Inter Domain Routing (CIDR)
   [INTERNET:15] is a method currently being deployed in the Internet
   backbones to achieve this added efficiency.  CIDR depends on
   deploying and routing to arbitrarily sized networks.  In this model,
   hosts and routers make no assumptions about the use of addressing in
   the internet.  The Class D (IP Multicast) and Class E (Experimental)
   address spaces are preserved, although this is primarily an
   assignment policy.

   By definition, CIDR comprises three elements:

     o topologically significant address assignment,
     o routing protocols that are capable of aggregating network layer
        reachability information, and
     o consistent forwarding algorithm ("longest match").

   The use of networks and subnets is now historical, although the
   language used to describe them remains in current use.  They have
   been replaced by the more tractable concept of a network prefix.  A
   network prefix is, by definition, a contiguous set of bits at the
   more significant end of the address that defines a set of systems;
   host numbers select among those systems.  There is no requirement
   that all the internet use network prefixes uniformly.  To collapse
   routing information, it is useful to divide the internet into
   addressing domains.  Within such a domain, detailed information is
   available about constituent networks; outside it, only the common
   network prefix is advertised.

   The classical IP addressing architecture used addresses and subnet
   masks to discriminate the host number from the network prefix.  With
   network prefixes, it is sufficient to indicate the number of bits in
   the prefix.  Both representations are in common use.  Architecturally
   correct subnet masks are capable of being represented using the
   prefix length description.  They comprise that subset of all possible
   bits patterns that have

     o a contiguous string of ones at the more significant end,
     o a contiguous string of zeros at the less significant end, and
     o no intervening bits.

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   Routers SHOULD always treat a route as a network prefix, and SHOULD
   reject configuration and routing information inconsistent with that

      IP-address ::= { <Network-prefix>, <Host-number> }

   An effect of the use of CIDR is that the set of destinations
   associated with address prefixes in the routing table may exhibit
   subset relationship.  A route describing a smaller set of
   destinations (a longer prefix) is said to be more specific than a
   route describing a larger set of destinations (a shorter prefix);
   similarly, a route describing a larger set of destinations (a shorter
   prefix) is said to be less specific than a route describing a smaller
   set of destinations (a longer prefix).  Routers must use the most
   specific matching route (the longest matching network prefix) when
   forwarding traffic.

2.2.6 IP Multicasting

   IP multicasting is an extension of Link Layer multicast to IP
   internets.  Using IP multicasts, a single datagram can be addressed
   to multiple hosts without sending it to all.  In the extended case,
   these hosts may reside in different address domains.  This collection
   of hosts is called a multicast group.  Each multicast group is
   represented as a Class D IP address.  An IP datagram sent to the
   group is to be delivered to each group member with the same best-
   effort delivery as that provided for unicast IP traffic.  The sender
   of the datagram does not itself need to be a member of the
   destination group.

   The semantics of IP multicast group membership are defined in
   [INTERNET:4].  That document describes how hosts and routers join and
   leave multicast groups.  It also defines a protocol, the Internet
   Group Management Protocol (IGMP), that monitors IP multicast group

   Forwarding of IP multicast datagrams is accomplished either through
   static routing information or via a multicast routing protocol.
   Devices that forward IP multicast datagrams are called multicast
   routers.  They may or may not also forward IP unicasts.  Multicast
   datagrams are forwarded on the basis of both their source and
   destination addresses.  Forwarding of IP multicast packets is
   described in more detail in Section [5.2.1].  Appendix D discusses
   multicast routing protocols.

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2.2.7 Unnumbered Lines and Networks Prefixes

   Traditionally, each network interface on an IP host or router has its
   own IP address.  This can cause inefficient use of the scarce IP
   address space, since it forces allocation of an IP network prefix to
   every point-to-point link.

   To solve this problem, a number of people have proposed and
   implemented the concept of unnumbered point to point lines.  An
   unnumbered point to point line does not have any network prefix
   associated with it.  As a consequence, the network interfaces
   connected to an unnumbered point to point line do not have IP

   Because the IP architecture has traditionally assumed that all
   interfaces had IP addresses, these unnumbered interfaces cause some
   interesting dilemmas.  For example, some IP options (e.g., Record
   Route) specify that a router must insert the interface address into
   the option, but an unnumbered interface has no IP address.  Even more
   fundamental (as we shall see in chapter 5) is that routes contain the
   IP address of the next hop router.  A router expects that this IP
   address will be on an IP (sub)net to which the router is connected.
   That assumption is of course violated if the only connection is an
   unnumbered point to point line.

   To get around these difficulties, two schemes have been conceived.
   The first scheme says that two routers connected by an unnumbered
   point to point line are not really two routers at all, but rather two
   half-routers that together make up a single virtual router.  The
   unnumbered point to point line is essentially considered to be an
   internal bus in the virtual router.  The two halves of the virtual
   router must coordinate their activities in such a way that they act
   exactly like a single router.

   This scheme fits in well with the IP architecture, but suffers from
   two important drawbacks.  The first is that, although it handles the
   common case of a single unnumbered point to point line, it is not
   readily extensible to handle the case of a mesh of routers and
   unnumbered point to point lines.  The second drawback is that the
   interactions between the half routers are necessarily complex and are
   not standardized, effectively precluding the connection of equipment
   from different vendors using unnumbered point to point lines.

   Because of these drawbacks, this memo has adopted an alternate
   scheme, which has been invented multiple times but which is probably
   originally attributable to Phil Karn.  In this scheme, a router that
   has unnumbered point to point lines also has a special IP address,
   called a router-id in this memo.  The router-id is one of the

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   router's IP addresses (a router is required to have at least one IP
   address).  This router-id is used as if it is the IP address of all
   unnumbered interfaces.

2.2.8 Notable Oddities Embedded Routers

   A router may be a stand-alone computer system, dedicated to its IP
   router functions.  Alternatively, it is possible to embed router
   functions within a host operating system that supports connections to
   two or more networks.  The best-known example of an operating system
   with embedded router code is the Berkeley BSD system.  The embedded
   router feature seems to make building a network easy, but it has a
   number of hidden pitfalls:

   (1) If a host has only a single constituent-network interface, it
        should not act as a router.

        For example, hosts with embedded router code that gratuitously
        forward broadcast packets or datagrams on the same net often
        cause packet avalanches.

   (2) If a (multihomed) host acts as a router, it is subject to the
        requirements for routers contained in this document.

        For example, the routing protocol issues and the router control
        and monitoring problems are as hard and important for embedded
        routers as for stand-alone routers.

        Internet router requirements and specifications may change
        independently of operating system changes.  An administration
        that operates an embedded router in the Internet is strongly
        advised to maintain and update the router code.  This might
        require router source code.

   (3) When a host executes embedded router code, it becomes part of the
        Internet infrastructure.  Thus, errors in software or
        configuration can hinder communication between other hosts.  As
        a consequence, the host administrator must lose some autonomy.

        In many circumstances, a host administrator will need to disable
        router code embedded in the operating system.  For this reason,
        it should be straightforward to disable embedded router

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   (4) When a host running embedded router code is concurrently used for
        other services, the Operation and Maintenance requirements for
        the two modes of use may conflict.

        For example, router O&M will in many cases be performed remotely
        by an operations center; this may require privileged system
        access that the host administrator would not normally want to
        distribute. Transparent Routers

   There are two basic models for interconnecting local-area networks
   and wide-area (or long-haul) networks in the Internet.  In the first,
   the local-area network is assigned a network prefix and all routers
   in the Internet must know how to route to that network.  In the
   second, the local-area network shares (a small part of) the address
   space of the wide-area network.  Routers that support this second
   model are called address sharing routers or transparent routers.  The
   focus of this memo is on routers that support the first model, but
   this is not intended to exclude the use of transparent routers.

   The basic idea of a transparent router is that the hosts on the
   local-area network behind such a router share the address space of
   the wide-area network in front of the router.  In certain situations
   this is a very useful approach and the limitations do not present
   significant drawbacks.

   The words in front and behind indicate one of the limitations of this
   approach: this model of interconnection is suitable only for a
   geographically (and topologically) limited stub environment.  It
   requires that there be some form of logical addressing in the network
   level addressing of the wide-area network.  IP addresses in the local
   environment map to a few (usually one) physical address in the wide-
   area network.  This mapping occurs in a way consistent with the { IP
   address <-> network address } mapping used throughout the wide-area

   Multihoming is possible on one wide-area network, but may present
   routing problems if the interfaces are geographically or
   topologically separated.  Multihoming on two (or more) wide-area
   networks is a problem due to the confusion of addresses.

   The behavior that hosts see from other hosts in what is apparently
   the same network may differ if the transparent router cannot fully
   emulate the normal wide-area network service.  For example, the
   ARPANET used a Link Layer protocol that provided a Destination Dead
   indication in response to an attempt to send to a host that was off-
   line.  However, if there were a transparent router between the

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   ARPANET and an Ethernet, a host on the ARPANET would not receive a
   Destination Dead indication for Ethernet hosts.

2.3 Router Characteristics

   An Internet router performs the following functions:

   (1) Conforms to specific Internet protocols specified in this
        document, including the Internet Protocol (IP), Internet Control
        Message Protocol (ICMP), and others as necessary.

   (2) Interfaces to two or more packet networks.  For each connected
        network the router must implement the functions required by that
        network.  These functions typically include:

        o Encapsulating and decapsulating the IP datagrams with the
           connected network framing (e.g., an Ethernet header and

        o Sending and receiving IP datagrams up to the maximum size
           supported by that network, this size is the network's Maximum
           Transmission Unit or MTU,

        o Translating the IP destination address into an appropriate
           network-level address for the connected network (e.g., an
           Ethernet hardware address), if needed, and

        o Responding to network flow control and error indications, if

        See chapter 3 (Link Layer).

   (3) Receives and forwards Internet datagrams.  Important issues in
        this process are buffer management, congestion control, and

        o Recognizes error conditions and generates ICMP error and
           information messages as required.

        o Drops datagrams whose time-to-live fields have reached zero.

        o Fragments datagrams when necessary to fit into the MTU of the
           next network.

        See chapter 4 (Internet Layer - Protocols) and chapter 5
        (Internet Layer - Forwarding) for more information.

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   (4) Chooses a next-hop destination for each IP datagram, based on the
        information in its routing database.  See chapter 5 (Internet
        Layer - Forwarding) for more information.

   (5) (Usually) supports an interior gateway protocol (IGP) to carry
        out distributed routing and reachability algorithms with the
        other routers in the same autonomous system.  In addition, some
        routers will need to support an exterior gateway protocol (EGP)
        to exchange topological information with other autonomous
        systems.  See chapter 7 (Application Layer - Routing Protocols)
        for more information.

   (6) Provides network management and system support facilities,
        including loading, debugging, status reporting, exception
        reporting and control.  See chapter 8 (Application Layer -
        Network Management Protocols) and chapter 10 (Operation and
        Maintenance) for more information.

   A router vendor will have many choices on power, complexity, and
   features for a particular router product.  It may be helpful to
   observe that the Internet system is neither homogeneous nor fully
   connected.  For reasons of technology and geography it is growing
   into a global interconnect system plus a fringe of LANs around the
   edge.  More and more these fringe LANs are becoming richly
   interconnected, thus making them less out on the fringe and more
   demanding on router requirements.

   o The global interconnect system is composed of a number of wide-area
      networks to which are attached routers of several Autonomous
      Systems (AS); there are relatively few hosts connected directly to
      the system.

   o Most hosts are connected to LANs.  Many organizations have clusters
      of LANs interconnected by local routers.  Each such cluster is
      connected by routers at one or more points into the global
      interconnect system.  If it is connected at only one point, a LAN
      is known as a stub network.

   Routers in the global interconnect system generally require:

   o Advanced Routing and Forwarding Algorithms

      These routers need routing algorithms that are highly dynamic,
      impose minimal processing and communication burdens, and offer
      type-of-service routing.  Congestion is still not a completely
      resolved issue (see Section [5.3.6]).  Improvements in these areas
      are expected, as the research community is actively working on
      these issues.

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   o High Availability

      These routers need to be highly reliable, providing 24 hours a
      day, 7 days a week service.  Equipment and software faults can
      have a wide-spread (sometimes global) effect.  In case of failure,
      they must recover quickly.  In any environment, a router must be
      highly robust and able to operate, possibly in a degraded state,
      under conditions of extreme congestion or failure of network

   o Advanced O&M Features

      Internet routers normally operate in an unattended mode.  They
      will typically be operated remotely from a centralized monitoring
      center.  They need to provide sophisticated means for monitoring
      and measuring traffic and other events and for diagnosing faults.

   o High Performance

      Long-haul lines in the Internet today are most frequently full
      duplex 56 KBPS, DS1 (1.544 Mbps), or DS3 (45 Mbps) speeds.  LANs,
      which are half duplex multiaccess media, are typically Ethernet
      (10Mbps) and, to a lesser degree, FDDI (100Mbps).  However,
      network media technology is constantly advancing and higher speeds
      are likely in the future.

   The requirements for routers used in the LAN fringe (e.g., campus
   networks) depend greatly on the demands of the local networks.  These
   may be high or medium-performance devices, probably competitively
   procured from several different vendors and operated by an internal
   organization (e.g., a campus computing center).  The design of these
   routers should emphasize low average latency and good burst
   performance, together with delay and type-of-service sensitive
   resource management.  In this environment there may be less formal
   O&M but it will not be less important.  The need for the routing
   mechanism to be highly dynamic will become more important as networks
   become more complex and interconnected.  Users will demand more out
   of their local connections because of the speed of the global

   As networks have grown, and as more networks have become old enough
   that they are phasing out older equipment, it has become increasingly
   imperative that routers interoperate with routers from other vendors.

   Even though the Internet system is not fully interconnected, many
   parts of the system need to have redundant connectivity.  Rich
   connectivity allows reliable service despite failures of
   communication lines and routers, and it can also improve service by

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   shortening Internet paths and by providing additional capacity.
   Unfortunately, this richer topology can make it much more difficult
   to choose the best path to a particular destination.

2.4 Architectural Assumptions

   The current Internet architecture is based on a set of assumptions
   about the communication system.  The assumptions most relevant to
   routers are as follows:

   o The Internet is a network of networks.

      Each host is directly connected to some particular network(s); its
      connection to the Internet is only conceptual.  Two hosts on the
      same network communicate with each other using the same set of
      protocols that they would use to communicate with hosts on distant

   o Routers do not keep connection state information.

      To improve the robustness of the communication system, routers are
      designed to be stateless, forwarding each IP packet independently
      of other packets.  As a result, redundant paths can be exploited
      to provide robust service in spite of failures of intervening
      routers and networks.

      All state information required for end-to-end flow control and
      reliability is implemented in the hosts, in the transport layer or
      in application programs.  All connection control information is
      thus co-located with the end points of the communication, so it
      will be lost only if an end point fails.  Routers control message
      flow only indirectly, by dropping packets or increasing network

      Note that future protocol developments may well end up putting
      some more state into routers.  This is especially likely for
      multicast routing, resource reservation, and flow based

   o Routing complexity should be in the routers.

      Routing is a complex and difficult problem, and ought to be
      performed by the routers, not the hosts.  An important objective
      is to insulate host software from changes caused by the inevitable
      evolution of the Internet routing architecture.

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   o The system must tolerate wide network variation.

      A basic objective of the Internet design is to tolerate a wide
      range of network characteristics - e.g., bandwidth, delay, packet
      loss, packet reordering, and maximum packet size.  Another
      objective is robustness against failure of individual networks,
      routers, and hosts, using whatever bandwidth is still available.
      Finally, the goal is full open system interconnection: an Internet
      router must be able to interoperate robustly and effectively with
      any other router or Internet host, across diverse Internet paths.

      Sometimes implementors have designed for less ambitious goals.
      For example, the LAN environment is typically much more benign
      than the Internet as a whole; LANs have low packet loss and delay
      and do not reorder packets.  Some vendors have fielded
      implementations that are adequate for a simple LAN environment,
      but work badly for general interoperation.  The vendor justifies
      such a product as being economical within the restricted LAN
      market.  However, isolated LANs seldom stay isolated for long.
      They are soon connected to each other, to organization-wide
      internets, and eventually to the global Internet system.  In the
      end, neither the customer nor the vendor is served by incomplete
      or substandard routers.

      The requirements in this document are designed for a full-function
      router.  It is intended that fully compliant routers will be
      usable in almost any part of the Internet.


   Although [INTRO:1] covers Link Layer standards (IP over various link
   layers, ARP, etc.), this document anticipates that Link-Layer
   material will be covered in a separate Link Layer Requirements
   document.  A Link-Layer Requirements document would be applicable to
   both hosts and routers.  Thus, this document will not obsolete the
   parts of [INTRO:1] that deal with link-layer issues.


   Routers have essentially the same Link Layer protocol requirements as
   other sorts of Internet systems.  These requirements are given in
   chapter 3 of Requirements for Internet Gateways [INTRO:1].  A router
   MUST comply with its requirements and SHOULD comply with its
   recommendations.  Since some of the material in that document has
   become somewhat dated, some additional requirements and explanations
   are included below.

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      It is expected that the Internet community will produce a
      Requirements for Internet Link Layer standard which will supersede
      both this chapter and the chapter entitled "INTERNET LAYER
      PROTOCOLS" in [INTRO:1].


   This document does not attempt to specify the interface between the
   Link Layer and the upper layers.  However, note well that other parts
   of this document, particularly chapter 5, require various sorts of
   information to be passed across this layer boundary.

   This section uses the following definitions:

   o Source physical address

      The source physical address is the Link Layer address of the host
      or router from which the packet was received.

   o Destination physical address

      The destination physical address is the Link Layer address to
      which the packet was sent.

   The information that must pass from the Link Layer to the
   Internetwork Layer for each received packet is:

   (1) The IP packet [5.2.2],

   (2) The length of the data portion (i.e., not including the Link-
        Layer framing) of the Link Layer frame [5.2.2],

   (3) The identity of the physical interface from which the IP packet
        was received [5.2.3], and

   (4) The classification of the packet's destination physical address
        as a Link Layer unicast, broadcast, or multicast [4.3.2],

   In addition, the Link Layer also should provide:

   (5) The source physical address.

   The information that must pass from the Internetwork Layer to the
   Link Layer for each transmitted packet is:

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   (1) The IP packet [5.2.1]

   (2) The length of the IP packet [5.2.1]

   (3) The destination physical interface [5.2.1]

   (4) The next hop IP address [5.2.1]

   In addition, the Internetwork Layer also should provide:

   (5) The Link Layer priority value []

   The Link Layer must also notify the Internetwork Layer if the packet
   to be transmitted causes a Link Layer precedence-related error


3.3.1 Trailer Encapsulation

   Routers that can connect to ten megabit Ethernets MAY be able to
   receive and forward Ethernet packets encapsulated using the trailer
   encapsulation described in [LINK:1].  However, a router SHOULD NOT
   originate trailer encapsulated packets.  A router MUST NOT originate
   trailer encapsulated packets without first verifying, using the
   mechanism described in [INTRO:2], that the immediate destination of
   the packet is willing and able to accept trailer-encapsulated
   packets.  A router SHOULD NOT agree (using these mechanisms) to
   accept trailer-encapsulated packets.

3.3.2 Address Resolution Protocol - ARP

   Routers that implement ARP MUST be compliant and SHOULD be
   unconditionally compliant with the requirements in [INTRO:2].

   The link layer MUST NOT report a Destination Unreachable error to IP
   solely because there is no ARP cache entry for a destination; it
   SHOULD queue up to a small number of datagrams breifly while
   performing the ARP request/reply sequence, and reply that the
   destination is unreachable to one of the queued datagrams only when
   this proves fruitless.

   A router MUST not believe any ARP reply that claims that the Link
   Layer address of another host or router is a broadcast or multicast

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3.3.3 Ethernet and 802.3 Coexistence

   Routers that can connect to ten megabit Ethernets MUST be compliant
   and SHOULD be unconditionally compliant with the Ethernet
   requirements of [INTRO:2].

3.3.4 Maximum Transmission Unit - MTU

   The MTU of each logical interface MUST be configurable within the
   range of legal MTUs for the interface.

   Many Link Layer protocols define a maximum frame size that may be
   sent.  In such cases, a router MUST NOT allow an MTU to be set which
   would allow sending of frames larger than those allowed by the Link
   Layer protocol.  However, a router SHOULD be willing to receive a
   packet as large as the maximum frame size even if that is larger than
   the MTU.

      Note that this is a stricter requirement than imposed on hosts by
      [INTRO:2], which requires that the MTU of each physical interface
      be configurable.

      If a network is using an MTU smaller than the maximum frame size
      for the Link Layer, a router may receive packets larger than the
      MTU from misconfigured and incompletely initialized hosts.  The
      Robustness Principle indicates that the router should successfully
      receive these packets if possible.

3.3.5 Point-to-Point Protocol - PPP

   Contrary to [INTRO:1], the Internet does have a standard point to
   point line protocol: the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP), defined in
   [LINK:2], [LINK:3], [LINK:4], and [LINK:5].

   A point to point interface is any interface that is designed to send
   data over a point to point line.  Such interfaces include telephone,
   leased, dedicated or direct lines (either 2 or 4 wire), and may use
   point to point channels or virtual circuits of multiplexed interfaces
   such as ISDN.  They normally use a standardized modem or bit serial
   interface (such as RS-232, RS-449 or V.35), using either synchronous
   or asynchronous clocking.  Multiplexed interfaces often have special
   physical interfaces.

   A general purpose serial interface uses the same physical media as a
   point to point line, but supports the use of link layer networks as
   well as point to point connectivity.  Link layer networks (such as
   X.25 or Frame Relay) use an alternative IP link layer specification.

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   Routers that implement point to point or general purpose serial
   interfaces MUST IMPLEMENT PPP.

   PPP MUST be supported on all general purpose serial interfaces on a
   router.  The router MAY allow the line to be configured to use point
   to point line protocols other than PPP.  Point to point interfaces
   SHOULD either default to using PPP when enabled or require
   configuration of the link layer protocol before being enabled.
   General purpose serial interfaces SHOULD require configuration of the
   link layer protocol before being enabled. Introduction

   This section provides guidelines to router implementors so that they
   can ensure interoperability with other routers using PPP over either
   synchronous or asynchronous links.

   It is critical that an implementor understand the semantics of the
   option negotiation mechanism.  Options are a means for a local device
   to indicate to a remote peer what the local device will accept from
   the remote peer, not what it wishes to send.  It is up to the remote
   peer to decide what is most convenient to send within the confines of
   the set of options that the local device has stated that it can
   accept.  Therefore it is perfectly acceptable and normal for a remote
   peer to ACK all the options indicated in an LCP Configuration Request
   (CR) even if the remote peer does not support any of those options.
   Again, the options are simply a mechanism for either device to
   indicate to its peer what it will accept, not necessarily what it
   will send. Link Control Protocol (LCP) Options

   The PPP Link Control Protocol (LCP) offers a number of options that
   may be negotiated.  These options include (among others) address and
   control field compression, protocol field compression, asynchronous
   character map, Maximum Receive Unit (MRU), Link Quality Monitoring
   (LQM), magic number (for loopback detection), Password Authentication
   Protocol (PAP), Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP),
   and the 32-bit Frame Check Sequence (FCS).

   A router MAY use address/control field compression on either
   synchronous or asynchronous links.  A router MAY use protocol field
   compression on either synchronous or asynchronous links.  A router
   that indicates that it can accept these compressions MUST be able to
   accept uncompressed PPP header information also.

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      These options control the appearance of the PPP header.  Normally
      the PPP header consists of the address, the control field, and the
      protocol field.  The address, on a point to point line, is 0xFF,
      indicating "broadcast".  The control field is 0x03, indicating
      "Unnumbered Information." The Protocol Identifier is a two byte
      value indicating the contents of the data area of the frame.  If a
      system negotiates address and control field compression it
      indicates to its peer that it will accept PPP frames that have or
      do not have these fields at the front of the header.  It does not
      indicate that it will be sending frames with these fields removed.

      Protocol field compression, when negotiated, indicates that the
      system is willing to receive protocol fields compressed to one
      byte when this is legal.  There is no requirement that the sender
      do so.

      Use of address/control field compression is inconsistent with the
      use of numbered mode (reliable) PPP.

      Some hardware does not deal well with variable length header
      information.  In those cases it makes most sense for the remote
      peer to send the full PPP header.  Implementations may ensure this
      by not sending the address/control field and protocol field
      compression options to the remote peer.  Even if the remote peer
      has indicated an ability to receive compressed headers there is no
      requirement for the local router to send compressed headers.

   A router MUST negotiate the Asynchronous Control Character Map (ACCM)
   for asynchronous PPP links, but SHOULD NOT negotiate the ACCM for
   synchronous links.  If a router receives an attempt to negotiate the
   ACCM over a synchronous link, it MUST ACKnowledge the option and then
   ignore it.

      There are implementations that offer both synchronous and
      asynchronous modes of operation and may use the same code to
      implement the option negotiation.  In this situation it is
      possible that one end or the other may send the ACCM option on a
      synchronous link.

   A router SHOULD properly negotiate the maximum receive unit (MRU).
   Even if a system negotiates an MRU smaller than 1,500 bytes, it MUST
   be able to receive a 1,500 byte frame.

   A router SHOULD negotiate and enable the link quality monitoring
   (LQM) option.

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      This memo does not specify a policy for deciding whether the
      link's quality is adequate.  However, it is important (see Section
      [3.3.6]) that a router disable failed links.

   A router SHOULD implement and negotiate the magic number option for
   loopback detection.

   A router MAY support the authentication options (PAP - Password
   Authentication Protocol, and/or CHAP - Challenge Handshake
   Authentication Protocol).

   A router MUST support 16-bit CRC frame check sequence (FCS) and MAY
   support the 32-bit CRC. IP Control Protocol (IPCP) Options

   A router MAY offer to perform IP address negotiation.  A router MUST
   accept a refusal (REJect) to perform IP address negotiation from the

   Routers operating at link speeds of 19,200 BPS or less SHOULD
   implement and offer to perform Van Jacobson header compression.
   Routers that implement VJ compression SHOULD implement an
   administrative control enabling or disabling it.

3.3.6 Interface Testing

   A router MUST have a mechanism to allow routing software to determine
   whether a physical interface is available to send packets or not; on
   multiplexed interfaces where permanent virtual circuits are opened
   for limited sets of neighbors, the router must also be able to
   determine whether the virtual circuits are viable.  A router SHOULD
   have a mechanism to allow routing software to judge the quality of a
   physical interface.  A router MUST have a mechanism for informing the
   routing software when a physical interface becomes available or
   unavailable to send packets because of administrative action.  A
   router MUST have a mechanism for informing the routing software when
   it detects a Link level interface has become available or
   unavailable, for any reason.

      It is crucial that routers have workable mechanisms for
      determining that their network connections are functioning
      properly.  Failure to detect link loss, or failure to take the
      proper actions when a problem is detected, can lead to black

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      The mechanisms available for detecting problems with network
      connections vary considerably, depending on the Link Layer
      protocols in use and the interface hardware.  The intent is to
      maximize the capability to detect failures within the Link-Layer

(page 39 continued on part 3)

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