Label Switched Multicast – Ethernet Header

I got an interesting email from Ying Lu who had read my posts on LSM:

I am curious about the Ethernet DA and codepoint used for multicast MPLS. Previously, I understand that:
– Ethernet DA is unicast MAC of nexthop of each replication leg.
– codepoint is 0x8847
However, looking at RFC5332, I am not so sure…
Quote:
“Ethernet is an example of a multipoint-to-multipoint data link. Ethertype 0x8847 is used whenever a unicast ethernet frame carries an MPLS packet.

Ethertype 0x8847 is also used whenever a multicast ethernet frame carries an MPLS packet, EXCEPT for the case where the top label of the MPLS packet has been upstream-assigned.

Ethertype 0x8848, formerly known as the “MPLS multicast codepoint”, is to be used only when an MPLS packet whose top label is upstream assigned is carried in a multicast ethernet frame.

Interesting question. What is the ethernet destination address (DA) and the value of the ethernet type field (codepoint) when the MPLS packet is being sent on an LSM LSP?

Getting back into the lab, I started a ping from CE1 to a group that CE3 had joined. I then ran a sniff on the segment between P and PE3.

Sample LSM Topology
Sample LSM Topology

Examining the capture shows a unicast address in the ethernet DA field and an ethernet type of 0x8847.

LSM-ethernet-da
LSM Ethernet Dest Address and Type

I started wondering if I could trick the P router into using a multicast ethernet frame so I spun up a fourth PE and attached it to the same segment that P and PE3 are on and had it join the same multicast group.

The P router continued to send unicast ethernet frames with a type of 0x8847 and just started putting two frames on the wire, one for PE3 and one for PE4. It did not, as I had hoped, put a multicast ethernet frame on the wire that would be picked up by both PEs.

So it appears that IOS — and I tested this with a version of IOS 15.4T — sends unicast ethernet frames when sending LSM packets and therefore also uses an ethernet type code of 0x8847.

Disclaimer: The opinions and information expressed in this blog article are my own and not necessarily those of Cisco Systems.

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