Guest

Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches

Nexus 7000 FabricPath

  • Viewing Options

  • PDF (2.2 MB)
  • Feedback

1. Introduction. 3

2. Cisco FabricPath - An Ethernet Fabric. 3

2.1 Layer 2 Technology Evolution. 3

2.2 Benefits of an Ethernet Fabric. 5

3. FabricPath System Architecture. 5

3.1 Software Architecture. 6

3.2 FabricPath Interfaces. 7

3.3 FabricPath VLANs. 7

4. Basic FabricPath Data-Plane Operation. 9

4.1 Basic Data Plane Operation. 9

4.2 FabricPath Encapsulation. 10

4.3. Multidestination Frame Encapsulation. 12

4.4. FabricPath Forwarding Decisions. 12

5. FabricPath Routing Control Plane. 13

5.1 Switch ID Allocation. 13

5.2 FabricPath IS-IS.. 13

5.3 Unicast Routing. 14

5.4 Multidestination Trees. 14

5.5 IP Multicast Routing. 15

5.6 FabricPath Multitopology. 17

5.7 Overload. 18

6. MAC Address Learning. 19

6.1 Conversational MAC Learning. 19

6.2 MAC Learning in a Mixed M-Series/F-Series VDC.. 20

6.3 MAC Learning with VPC+. 21

6.4 Proxy Layer 2 Learning. 21

6.5 Changes in Local MAC Learning. 22

7. FabricPath Packet Forwarding. 22

7.1 Packet Flow Example. 23

7.2 Known Unicast Forwarding. 31

7.3 VLAN Membership and FabricPath Forwarding. 32

7.4 Multidestination Traffic Forwarding. 33

7.5 IP Multicast Forwarding. 34

8. FabricPath Interaction with Spanning Tree. 38

8.1 Forwarding TCNs. 39

9. VPC+. 40

9.1 Basics of VPC+. 40

9.2 VPC+ Peer Keepalive Configuration. 42

9.3 Active/Active HSRP Forwarding. 44

10. Anycast HSRP.. 44

11. Conclusion. 46


This document provides a detailed discussion of the FabricPath technology available on Nexus 7000 Series switches running NX-OS software. Key topics include FabricPath system architecture, control plane and data-plane operation, and VPC+.

1. Introduction

This document discusses the FabricPath functionality and operation on the Nexus 7000 Series switches running NX-OS software. This document assumes an understanding of the core architecture and operation of the Nexus 7000 platform, as well as general familiarity with the function and operation of standard Layer 2 and Layer 3 unicast and multicast forwarding implementations.

2. Cisco FabricPath - An Ethernet Fabric

Cisco FabricPath technology on the Nexus 7000 switches introduces new capabilities and design options that allow network operators to create Ethernet fabrics that maximize bandwidth availability, provide design flexibility, and simplify and cost-reduce network and application deployment and operation.

FabricPath leverages many of the best characteristics of traditional Layer 2 and Layer 3 technologies, combining them into a new control-plane and data-plane implemenation that combines the plug-and-play deployment model of a bridged Spanning Tree environment with the stability, reconvergence characteristics, and ability to leverage multiple parallel paths typical of a Layer 3 routed environment. The result is a scalable, flexible, and highly-available Ethernet fabric suitable for the most demanding Data Center environments.

2.1 Layer 2 Technology Evolution

Until recently, virtually every modern Layer 2 network implemented the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) to build a loop-free topology. While STP serves a critical function in these Layer 2 networks, it is also frequently the cause of a variety of issues, both operational and architectural.

One negative aspect of STP behavior is its inability to leverage parallel forwarding paths. STP forms a forwarding tree, rooted at a single device, along which all data-plane traffic must flow. Adding parallel paths serves as a redundancy mechanism, but adding more than one such path has little benefit - STP blocks any additional paths, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Spanning Tree Blocks Parallel Paths

In addition, rooting the forwarding path at a single device results in suboptimal forwarding paths, as shown in Figure 2 - while a direct connection may exist, it cannot be leveraged because only one active forwarding path is allowed.

Figure 2. Spanning Tree Creates Suboptimal Forwarding Paths

Cisco introduced Virtual Port Channels (VPC) in 2008, a technology that in part mitigates the limitations of STP. VPC allows a single Ethernet device to connect simultaneously to two discrete Nexus 7000 chassis while treating these parallel connections as a single logical port-channel interface. The result is active-active forwarding paths while also removing STP blocked links, delivering an effective way to leverage two parallel paths in the typical Layer 2 topologies used with STP (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. Virtual Port Channels Enable Two-Way Active Forwarding Paths

VPC provides several benefits over a standard STP design. For example:

The use of port-channel interfaces makes certain network failures completely transparent to upper-layer protocols (for example, a link failure in a port-channel)

STP blocked ports are eliminated, relegating STP to a “fail-safe” role to prevent cabling mistakes and other problems from creating a permanent network loop

Allows both VPC peer switches to behave as an active default gateway for First-Hop Redundancy Protocols such as HSRP - traffic can be routed by either VPC peer switch

At the same time, however, many of the overall design constraints of an STP network remain even when deploying VPC. For example, while VPC provides active-active forwarding, only two active parallel paths are possible. No provision is made for adding a third or fourth aggregation-layer switch in order to increase density or bandwidth. Additionally, VPC offers no means by which VLANs can be extended, a key limitation of traditional STP designs.

2.2 Benefits of an Ethernet Fabric

With FabricPath, you can create a flexible Ethernet fabric that eliminates many of the constraints of STP. At the control plane, FabricPath uses a Shortest-Path First (SPF) routing protocol to determine reachability and select the best path or paths to any given destination in the FabricPath domain. In addition, the FabricPath data-plane introduces capabilities that ensure the network remains stable, and provides scalable, hardware-based learning and forwarding capabilities not bound by software or CPU capacity.

Benefits of deploying a FabricPath-based Ethernet fabric include:

Simplify and cost-reduce deployment and operation - FabricPath provides plug-and-play simplicity with minimal configuration. Application deployment becomes simpler while troubleshooting remains straightforward and transparent.

Maximize flexibility - FabricPath removes many of the design constraints associated with STP, enabling simplified workload mobility, network clustering applications, and VLAN extension.

Increase available bandwidth - With capabilities such as equal-cost multipathing (ECMP) and multitopology forwarding, FabricPath enables you to leverage all available bandwidth in the network.

Increase availability - FabricPath provides fast reconvergence and fault-domain isolation, insulating end users and applications from changes in the network.

In other words, while FabricPath benefits the server and application teams by providing a transparent network fabric that breaks down application silos, permits workload mobility, and provides maximum deployment flexibility, it also benefits the network operations team by reducing inter-team dependencies, streamlining deployment and configuration, and simplifying network maintenance and troubleshooting.

3. FabricPath System Architecture

The Nexus 7000 system provides a highly-available, fully modularized FabricPath control plane implementation along with a fully distributed hardware-based data-plane implementation. Every control-plane protocol and functional block related to FabricPath runs in its own protected memory space, providing stability and fault-isolation. Because of the distributed nature of the Nexus 7000 system, some processes run on the Supervisor Engine while others run on the individual I/O modules. Figure 4 shows the basic Nexus 7000 FabricPath system architecture.

Figure 4. FabricPath System Architecture

The various FabricPath-related components, as well as certain key infrastructure components, run as independent processes on the Supervisor Engine. Many of the supervisor engine processes run on a per-Virtual Device Context (VDC) basis, providing independent process state, protected memory, and process restartability across all configured VDCs. Other infrastructure components are global in scope and run on the I/O modules, serving the needs of all VDCs.

3.1 Software Architecture

This section describes each of the key control-plane components and processes related to FabricPath, as shown in Figure 4.

The following components run on the Supervisor Engine, on a per-VDC basis:

FabricPath IS-IS - SPF routing protocol process that forms the core of the FabricPath control plane

DRAP - Dynamic Resource Allocation Protocol, an extension to FabricPath IS-IS that ensures network‑wide unique and consistent Switch IDs and FTAG values

IGMP - Provides IGMP snooping support on FabricPath edge switches for building multicast forwarding database

U2RIB - Unicast Layer 2 RIB, containing the “best” unicast Layer 2 routing information

M2RIB - Multicast Layer 2 RIB, containing the “best” multicast Layer 2 routing information

L2FM - Layer 2 forwarding manager, managing the MAC address table

MFDM - Multicast forwarding distribution manager, providing shim between platform-independent control-plane processes and platform-specific processes on I/O modules

These components are global in scope and run on each of the I/O modules, processing forwarding information from each VDC and programming it into the I/O module hardware:

U2FIB - Unicast Layer 2 FIB, managing the hardware version of the unicast Layer 2 RIB

M2FIB - Multicast Layer 2 FIB, managing the hardware version of the multicast Layer 2 RIB

MTM - MAC table manager, managing the hardware version of the MAC address table

Each I/O module has hardware specifically designed to perform FabricPath forwarding lookups and other functions. The primary hardware tables associated with FabricPath forwarding include:

Switch table - Contains Switch IDs and next-hop interfaces

MAC address table - Contains local and remote MAC address entries

Other hardware - Variety of other table memories, hardware registers, etc. required for FabricPath forwarding

3.2 FabricPath Interfaces

Every interface involved in FabricPath switching falls into one of two categories (see Figure 5):

FabricPath edge port - FabricPath edge ports are interfaces at the edge of the FabricPath domain. These interfaces run Classic Ethernet, or CE, and behave exactly like normal Ethernet ports. You can attach any CE device to the FabricPath fabric by connecting it to a FabricPath edge port. FabricPath switches perform MAC learning on edge ports and frames transmitted on edge ports are standard IEEE 802.3 Ethernet frames. You can configure an edge port as an access port or as an IEEE 802.1Q trunk.

FabricPath core port - FabricPath core ports always forward Ethernet frames encapsulated in a FabricPath header. Ethernet frames transmitted on a FabricPath interface always carry an IEEE 802.1Q tag and therefore can conceptually be thought of as a trunk port.

Figure 5. FabricPath Edge Ports and Fabricpath Core Ports

3.3 FabricPath VLANs

By default, when you create VLANs on the Nexus 7000, the VLAN operates in Classic Ethernet, or CE, mode. One of the first tasks you perform when configuring FabricPath is to define one or more VLANs as FabricPath-mode VLANs.

Only FabricPath-mode VLANs are carried over FabricPath interfaces. Note however that FabricPath edge ports (i.e., CE interfaces) may belong to FabricPath VLANs, and in fact any FabricPath edge ports must belong to FabricPath VLANs in order for traffic from CE devices to be bridged into the FabricPath domain.

Note that the mode (CE or FabricPath) of a given VLAN has only VDC-local significance. Other VDCs, or other switches in the network, have no knowledge of the mode of a VLAN on any other switches. If you define a range of VLANs on a CE switch and then you connect that switch to a FabricPath edge port, the FabricPath switches will have the same VLAN IDs defined, but with the VLAN mode configured as FabricPath, as shown in Figure 6.

Note that beginning in NX-OS release 5.2(1), only ports on an F-Series I/O module can belong to FabricPath VLANs - therefore, both FabricPath edge ports and FabricPath core ports must be F-Series interfaces in FabricPath VLANs; M-Series I/O module interfaces cannot be configured as switchports in a FabricPath-mode VLAN.

3.3.1 Bridging Between M-Series and F-Series ports in a FabricPath Environment

Beginning in NX-OS release 5.2(1), if bridging between M-Series CE ports and F-Series FabricPath ports is required, you must create two separate VDCs and interconnect them using external cables. Figure 7 illustrates bridging M-Series ports in VLAN 10 into a FabricPath environment using two VDCs.

Figure 7. Bridging M-Series CE Traffic into FabricPath

4. Basic FabricPath Data-Plane Operation

This section provides a high-level view of FabricPath operation, introducing several of the key concepts of FabricPath forwarding. Later sections of this document describe the operation of FabricPath in greater detail.

4.1 Basic Data Plane Operation

Figure 8 illustrates the basics of FabricPath data-plane forwarding.

Figure 8. FabricPath Data Plane Forwarding

For the purposes of this example, assume that all control-plane routing information already exists, and data-plane MAC address learning for Host A and Host B has already occurred.

The following steps provide the basics of FabricPath data-plane operation:

1. Host A sends a CE frame, sourced from MAC A and destined to MAC B. The ingress FabricPath switch receives the frame in a FabricPath-mode VLAN on a FabricPath edge port and performs a MAC address table lookup on the DMAC.

2. The MAC lookup result indicates the frame should be sent to FabricPath switch S20. The ingress FabricPath switch encapsulates the frame in a FabricPath header for forwarding on a FabricPath core port, with a destination Switch ID of S20.

S10 has two equal-cost paths to reach S20. One of the paths is selected using a hash function, with input from the packet data (source and destination IP plus Layer 4 ports by default).

3. Other FabricPath switches simply forward the frame based on their routing table (“what is the best path to S20?”).

4. When S20 receives the frame, it removes the FabricPath header and forwards the frame as a Classic Ethernet frame on the FabricPath edge port where Host B is connected.

4.2 FabricPath Encapsulation

FabricPath switches encapsulate all Ethernet frames traversing the fabric inside a 16-byte FabricPath header. Figure 9 shows the details of the FabricPath header.

Figure 9. FabricPath Encapsulation

The FabricPath encapsulation uses a MAC-in-MAC encapsulation format. The original Ethernet frame, including an 802.1Q tag, is prepended by a 48-bit outer source address (SA), a 48-bit outer destination address (DA), and a 32-bit FabricPath tag. While the outer SA and DA may appear as 48-bit MAC addresses, FabricPath switches receiving such frames on a FabricPath core port parse these fields according to the format shown in Figure 9.

The fields of the FabricPath header are described in the following sections.

4.2.1 Endnode ID

As of NX-OS release 6.2(2), this field is not currently used by the FabricPath implementation. However, the presence of this field may provide the future capability for a FabricPath-enabled end station to uniquely identify itself, allowing FabricPath-based forwarding decisions down to the virtual or physical end-station level.

4.2.2 U/L bit

FabricPath switches set this bit in all unicast outer SA and DA fields, indicating the MAC address is locally administered (as opposed to universally unique). This is required since the outer SA and DA fields are not in fact MAC addresses and do not uniquely identify a particular hardware component as a standard MAC address would.

4.2.3 I/G bit

The I/G bit serves the same function in FabricPath as in standard Ethernet. Any multidestination addresses have this bit set.

4.2.4 OOO/DL bit

The function of the OOO (out-of-order)/don’t learn (DL) bit varies depending on whether the bit is set in the outer DA (OOO) or the outer SA (DL). As of NX-OS release 6.2(2), this bit is not currently used in the FabricPath implementation. However, the presence of this field may provide the future capability for per-packet load-sharing when ECMP paths are available.

4.2.5 Switch ID

Every switch in the FabricPath domain is assigned a unique 12-bit Switch ID. In the outer SA, this field identifies the FabricPath switch that originated the frame (typically the ingress FabricPath edge switch). In the outer DA, this field identifies the destination FabricPath switch.

4.2.6 Sub-Switch ID

In releases prior to NX-OS 6.1(2), the sub-switch ID (sSID) field identifies the source or destination VPC+ port-channel interface associated with a particular VPC+ switch pair. FabricPath switches running VPC+ use this field to identify the specific VPC+ port-channel on which traffic is to be forwarded. The sSID value is locally significant to each VPC+ switch pair. Note that, because this field is 8 bits, using the sSID to identify VPC+ port-channels imposes a limit of roughly 250 VPC+ port-channels per VPC+ switch pair (244 to be precise).

Beginning in NX-OS release 6.1(2), a configuration option provides a mechanism to remove the 244 VPC+ port-channel limit. For more information on VPC+ and this configuration option, see Section 9, “VPC+”, on page 40.

In the absence of VPC+, this field is always set to 0.

4.2.7 Port ID

The port ID, also known as the Local Identifier (LID), can be used to identify the specific physical or logical interface on which the frame was sourced or is destined. When used, the value is locally significant to each switch. This field in the outer DA allows the egress FabricPath switch to forward the frame to the appropriate edge interface without requiring a MAC address table lookup. For frames sourced from or destined to a VPC+ port-channel, this field is set to a common value shared by both VPC+ peer switches, and the sSID is used by default to select the outgoing port instead.

4.2.8 EtherType

The EtherType value for FabricPath encapsulated frames is 0x8903.

4.2.9 FTAG

The function of the forwarding tag, or FTAG, depends on whether a particular frame is unicast or multidestination. In the case of unicast frames, the FTAG identifies the FabricPath topology the frame is traversing. In NX-OS releases prior to 6.2(2), only a single topology is supported, and this value is always set to one (1). As of NX-OS 6.2(2), Nexus 7000 switches support up to 8 FabricPath topologies. The system selects a unique FTAG for each topology configured.

In the case of multidestination frames, the FTAG identifies which multidestination forwarding tree in a given topology the frame should traverse. Beginning in NX-OS 6.2(2), Nexus 7000 switches support two multidestination trees per topology. The system selects the FTAG value for each multidestination tree. For more information about FabricPath multidestination trees, see Section 5.4, “Multidestination Tree”, on page 14.

4.2.10 TTL

The Time to Live (TTL) field serves the same purpose in FabricPath as it does in traditional IP forwarding - each switch hop decrements the TTL by 1, and frames with an expired TTL are discarded. The TTL in FabricPath prevents Layer 2 bridged frames from looping endlessly in the event that a transitory loop occurs (such as during a reconvergence event). As of NX-OS release 5.2(1), ingress FabricPath edge switches set the TTL to 32 for all frames.

Beginning in NX-OS release 6.2(2), you can change the default TTL independently for unicast and multicast frames using the fabricpath ttl command:

Broadcast and unknown unicast frames use the unicast TTL setting

IPv4/IPv6 and non-IP multicast frames use the multicast TTL setting

4.3. Multidestination Frame Encapsulation

While the format for the outer SA is the same for known unicast frames and multidestination frames, there are two key differences in the format of the outer DA used for known unicast versus multidestination frames. The following rules apply to the outer DA used for multidestination frames, based on the type of multidestination frame in question:

For broadcast and multicast frames, the inner DA (all-ones broadcast MAC address, or multicast MAC address) is copied in its entirety to the outer DA. In other words, the inner DA and the outer DA of a broadcast or multicast frame are identical.

For unknown unicast frames, a reserved multicast address (01:0F:FF:C1:01:C0) is used as the outer DA

4.4. FabricPath Forwarding Decisions

A FabricPath switch uses different lookups and forwarding logic to forward frames, depending on the role that particular switch plays relative to the traffic flow. There are three general FabricPath switch types, illustrated in Figure 10:

Ingress FabricPath switch - Receives a CE frame from a FabricPath edge port. An ingress FabricPath switch uses a MAC table lookup to identify the destination SID, and a Switch ID table lookup to determine on which next-hop interface frames destined to that SID should be forwarded.

Core FabricPath switch - Receives a FabricPath-encapsulated frame on a FabricPath core port and uses a Switch ID table lookup to determine on which next-hop interface frames destined to that SID should be forwarded.

Egress FabricPath switch - Receives a FabricPath-encapsulated frame on a FabricPath core port, uses a Switch ID table to determine that it is the egress FabricPath switch, and uses the LID value in the outer DA, or a MAC address table lookup, to determine on which FabricPath edge port the frame should be forwarded.

Later sections of this document discuss the details of each of these forwarding lookups for different traffic types.

5. FabricPath Routing Control Plane

This section discusses the various components that make up the FabricPath control plane.

5.1 Switch ID Allocation

FabricPath implements a resource-allocation protocol called DRAP that automatically provisions key parts of the FabricPath namespace, specifically Switch IDs and FTAGs.

When a FabricPath switch brings up its FabricPath interfaces, the system forms an IS-IS adjacency to the connected FabricPath switch and the switches begin a negotiation process that ensures that all FabricPath switches have a unique Switch ID, and that the type and number of FTAG values in use are consistent. While this negotiation occurs, the FabricPath interfaces are brought up but the interfaces are not added to the FabricPath topology and no data-plane traffic is passed on the interfaces.

Every switch must have a unique Switch ID in order to participate in the FabricPath domain. A new switch initially selects a random Switch ID and checks to see if that value is already in use. If a conflict is detected, DRAP allocates a different value until no conflict exists.

While the FabricPath network automatically ensures each switch has a unique Switch ID, a configuration command is provided for the network administrator to statically assign a Switch ID to a FabricPath switch. If you choose to manually configure Switch IDs, be certain that each switch has a unique value - any switch with a conflicting ID will suspend data-plane forwarding on FabricPath interfaces as long as a conflict exists.

5.2 FabricPath IS-IS

FabricPath IS-IS replaces STP as the control-plane protocol within the FabricPath domain. In other words, FabricPath IS-IS determines the forwarding topology instead of STP.

IS-IS is an industry standard link-state routing protocol. The FabricPath IS-IS implementation is based on the ISO/IEC 10589 specification, implemented as a single-level IS-IS domain and extended through the definition of FabricPath-specific Type-Length-Value (TLV) fields.

Several characteristics of IS-IS make it ideally suited for use as a Layer 2 forwarding protocol:

Has no IP dependency - IS-IS does not require IP reachability in order to form adjacency between devices. While the majority of modern networks do provide IP connectivity for network infrastructure, using IS-IS ensures that no strict requirement for in-band IP connectivity among switches exists.

Easily extensible - Using custom TLVs, IS-IS devices can exchange information about virtually anything. In the case of Layer 3 IS-IS, routers exchange IP prefix reachability. In the case of FabricPath, switches exchange Switch ID reachability.

Provides SPF routing - SPF routing protocols have been proven to be scalable, flexible, and fast to converge. In addition, IS-IS supports equal-cost multipath (ECMP) forwarding, allowing data-plane packets to follow any available parallel path rather than restricting forwarding to a single path.

While IS-IS forms the basis of FabricPath, enabling FabricPath in your network requires no specific knowledge of IS-IS - the configuration is plug-and-play. Much as a network operator simply “turns on” STP and interconnects switches, you can enable FabricPath on interfaces and begin forwarding through the FabricPath fabric with minimal configuration.

5.3 Unicast Routing

Once adjacencies are built and routing information exchanged, the FabricPath IS-IS process passes its routes to the Unicast Layer 2 Routing Information Base (U2RIB), which determines the “best” route for each destination SID. By default, if multiple equal-cost paths exist to a particular SID, the U2RIB can install as many as 16 next-hop interfaces for that destination. You can modify the number of next-hops the U2RIB installs using the maximum‑paths command in FabricPath-domain configuration mode.

5.4 Multidestination Trees

FabricPath switches use one or more multidestination trees to forward multidestination frames - broadcast, multicast, and unknown unicast. FabricPath IS-IS automatically creates and uses discrete multidestination trees touching all FabricPath switches in the domain for forwarding multidestination traffic. As of NX-OS release 6.2(2), two such trees are supported per topology. Figure 11 shows a network with two multidestination trees, one rooted at S10 and one rooted at S40.

Figure 11. Two Multidestination Trees

5.4.1 Root Election and Tree Creation

Within the FabricPath domain, one switch becomes the root for the first multidestination tree in the topology (“Tree 1”). FabricPath switches compare three parameters in order to elect the root for Tree 1 in each topology, with higher values being better in all cases. The parameters, in order of preference, are:

Root priority - An 8-bit value between 0 and 255, with a default value of 64

System ID - A 48-bit value composed of the VDC MAC address (taken from the chassis midplane MAC address range)

Switch ID - The unique 12-bit Switch ID

Once a switch becomes the root for Tree 1 in a toplogy, it selects a root for each additional multidestination tree in the topology (based on the above parameters) and assigns each multidestination tree a unique FTAG value.

While FabricPath IS-IS will automatically select root switches for each multidestination tree in each topology, you can influence the root election using the root-priority command. We recommend configuring more centrally-connected switches as the roots (e.g., use aggregation or spine switches as the roots as opposed to access or leaf switches).

5.5 IP Multicast Routing

While broadcast, non-IP multicast, and unknown unicast traffic in FabricPath is flooded to all FabricPath edge ports in the input VLAN, IP multicast traffic is by default constrained to only those FabricPath edge ports that have either an interested multicast receiver or a multicast router attached.

FabricPath edge switches use IGMP snooping to examine specific control-plane packets - IGMP packets sent by hosts communicating their group membership, and periodic IGMP queries and PIM hellos sent by multicast routers - to determine which edge ports require delivery of multicast data-plane traffic. A FabricPath edge switch performs IGMP snooping exactly as any other NX-OS switch: the IGMP packet is redirected to the supervisor CPU, analyzed, and an IGMP snooping forwarding entry is created, updated, or removed in the hardware.

In the example network shown in Figure 12, the FabricPath network has three edge switches - S100, S200, and S300 - interconnected by a FabricPath core. A receiver for Group G1 is connected to S100; a receiver for Group G2 is connected to S100 and to S200; and a multicast router is connected to S300.

Figure 12. IGMP Snooping on FabricPath Edge Switches

For each group, G1 and G2, the FabricPath edge switches track the edge port membership. Based on the IGMP activity of the hosts, the IGMP process on the FabricPath edge switches updates two other processes:

Multicast Layer 2 RIB (M2RIB) - IGMP feeds the multicast group membership to the M2RIB, providing the list of FabricPath edge ports interested in each IP multicast group.

FabricPath IS-IS - IGMP provides the group address to IS-IS, which advertises the group interest to other FabricPath switches.

While the original IGMP packet is flooded into the FabricPath core, allowing any non-FabricPath switches or multicast routers to receive and process the packet as needed, group interest on edge switches is advertised into the FabricPath network by FabricPath IS-IS, via Group-Membership Link-State PDUs (GM-LSPs). GM-LSPs are flooded through the FabricPath network, as shown in Figure 13, allowing every FabricPath switch to learn the SIDs of edge switches with interested receivers for each multicast group. FabricPath IS-IS updates the M2RIB with its multicast routing information, indicating which SIDs have interest in which multicast groups.

Figure 13. Group Membership Advertised into FabricPath Using GM-LSPs

The M2RIB combines the information learned from IGMP snooping with that learned from FabricPath IS-IS GM-LSPs, to determine the final output interface list (OIL) for each multicast group. Therefore, the OIL for a given multicast group on a given FabricPath switch is the combination of:

All output interfaces (OIFs) learned from IGMP snooping (local FabricPath edge ports with interested receivers)

All OIFs leading to other FabricPath switches with interested receivers, tracked on a per-multidestination tree basis

In other words, the combination of IGMP snooping and FabricPath IS-IS GM-LSPs serves to create control-plane multicast state for the FabricPath domain.

Because any given IP multicast packet in a FabricPath network always traverses only one of the available multidestination trees, the M2RIB tracks the FabricPath core-port OIFs on a per-multidestination tree basis by default, deriving multiple OILs that combine any local edge-port OIFs with the OIFs used to reach each FabricPath SID with group interest on each multidestination tree. Figure 14 illustrates the pruned multicast forwarding trees that the M2RIB derives for each group, on a per-multidestination tree basis, as seen from the perspective of switch S300.

Figure 14. Pruned Multicast Forwarding Trees from Perspective of S300

5.6 FabricPath Multitopology

Prior to NX-OS release 6.2(2), Nexus 7000 switches support a single (default) FabricPath topology. All FabricPath VLANs map to the default topology and all FabricPath core ports carry all FabricPath-mode VLANs.

With FabricPath multitopology, introduced in NX-OS release 6.2(2), you can configure additional topologies and map FabricPath-mode VLANs to those topologies. Multitopology controls the scope of VLAN traffic based on which FabricPath core ports carry which VLANs, allowing you to restrict traffic to specific subsections of the network fabric or to independently engineer traffic flows in the network on a per-VLAN basis.

Figure 15 illustrates a typical example of a multitopology design where traffic for different “POD-local” VLANs is constrained to a subset of the overall FabricPath infrastructure, while traffic for Data Center-wide VLANs can traverse any switch and VLANs can be extended between PODs.

Figure 15. FabricPath Multitopology Example

Within the context of each FabricPath topology, you can independently control FabricPath IS-IS parameters such as link metrics on a per interface basis, providing complete control over the forwarding behavior of each topology. FabricPath multitopology also provides per-topology control of multidestination frame forwarding, since each topology maintains independent multidestination root switches and forwarding trees.

5.7 Overload

NX-OS release 6.2(2) introduces support for FabricPath IS-IS “overload.” The implementation is based on the corresponding Layer 3 IS-IS overload capability, specified in RFC 3277.

A FabricPath switch signals overload by setting the Overload Bit in the LSPs it sends to its neighbors. When a FabricPath switch receives LSPs with the Overload Bit set, it will not include the advertising node in its SPF runs and therefore will not use that node as a transit path for unicast forwarding nor as a root candidate or parent switch for the purposes of calculating multidestination forwarding trees. Note however that other switches continue to forward traffic to the overloaded node when that node is the final destination for the traffic (for example, for packets destined to an edge port on the overloaded node).

Two configurable options are available for the overload functionality, both configured in FabricPath domain configuration mode:

Set overload on startup - Sets the overload bit in LSPs for a fixed duration after a VDC comes online. This option prevents the switch from being used as a transit node until it has fully converged after a reboot, and then automatically reinserts the switch into the topology.

Set overload always - Sets the overload bit permanently until the configuration is removed. This option prevents the switch from being used as a transit node, typically so it can be removed from the network for planned maintenance or other reasons.

6. MAC Address Learning

FabricPath edge switches maintain two key forwarding tables - a traditional MAC address table, along with a Switch ID table. While in many respects the MAC address table in FabricPath edge switches resembles the MAC table used in Classic Ethernet, there are some important differences.

In CE, when a switch receives an Ethernet frame, it unconditionally populates the MAC table with the source MAC address of the frame. Additionally, forwarding in a CE switch is always based on the destination MAC address: if the MAC address is already learned, the frame is constrained to the port where that MAC is learned; if the MAC is unknown, or the frame is a broadcast, the frame is flooded to all ports in the VLAN where it was received.

The side-effect of this behavior in CE networks is that every switch that has a port in a particular VLAN will learn every MAC address in that VLAN. One potential downside of this behavior is that MAC address tables can become saturated with entries that are never used, and the overall MAC scalability of the network can be limited by the size of the smallest MAC address table supported among all the switches.

In contrast, FabricPath introduces new MAC-address learning rules that optimize the learning process within the fabric, and help conserve MAC table space on the edge switches. This technique, known as conversational learning, occurs automatically in FabricPath-mode VLANs.

6.1 Conversational MAC Learning

The first general rule of FabricPath MAC learning is that only FabricPath edge switches populate the MAC table and use MAC table lookups to forward frames. FabricPath core switches generally do not learn any MAC addresses at all - all frame forwarding within the fabric is based on the outer DA (and more specifically, the destination SID) of the FabricPath header.

Each FabricPath edge switch distinguishes between two types of MAC address table entry, local and remote, as shown in Figure 16:

Local MAC entry - A MAC entry for a device directly connected to the switch

Remote MAC entry - A MAC entry for a device connected to a different FabricPath switch

Figure 16. Local and Remote MAC Entries

FabricPath switches follow specific MAC learning rules based on the type of frame being processed. For Ethernet frames received from a directly-connected access or trunk port, the switch unconditionally learns the source MAC address as a local MAC entry, much as an STP switch would.

However, for unicast frames received with FabricPath encapsulation, the switch only learns the source MAC address of the frame as a remote MAC entry if the destination MAC address matches an already-learned local MAC entry. In other words, the switch only learns remote MAC addresses if the remote device is having a bidirectional “conversation” with a locally connected device - unknown unicast frames being flooded in the FabricPath network do not necessarily trigger learning on edge switches.

In addition, broadcast frames do not trigger learning on edge switches. However, broadcast frames are used to update any existing MAC entries already in the table - for example, if a host moves from one switch to another and sends a gratuitous ARP (or any other flooded frame) to update the Layer 2 forwarding tables, FabricPath switches receiving that broadcast will update an existing entry for the source MAC address.

Lastly, multicast frames (whether IP or non-IP multicast) trigger learning on FabricPath switches (both edge and core) by default, since several key LAN protocols (such as HSRP) rely on source MAC learning from multicast frames to facilitate proper forwarding.

Note that while the preceding discussion refers to switch learning behavior, in fact in the Nexus 7000 implementation, conversational learning happens at the granularity of each individual forwarding engine ASIC. Each of those forwarding engines performs local and remote MAC learning independently, based on the bidirectional conversations occurring across its pair of interfaces.

On F1 I/O modules, a single forwarding engine ASIC controls a pair of front-panel 10G interfaces (e.g.,e1/1-2, e1/3-4, e1/5-6, etc.) - there are 16 independent forwarding engines on each F1 I/O module.

On F2/F2E I/O modules, a single forwarding engine ASIC controls 4 front-panel 10G interfaces (e.g.,e1/1‑4, e1/5-8, etc.) - there are 12 independent forwarding engine on each F2/F2E I/O module.

There are several other special MAC learning cases in a FabricPath network discussed in the following sections:

1. Nexus 7000 chassis with a mix of M-Series and F-Series I/O modules in the same VDC

2. VPC+ peer switches

3. Proxy Layer 2 learning

6.2 MAC Learning in a Mixed M-Series/F-Series VDC

Many typical network designs introduce the Layer 2/Layer 3 boundary at the aggregation layer. Since F-Series I/O modules do not perform Layer 3 switching in a mixed M/F VDC, such designs must include one or more M-Series I/O modules in the VDC to provide the interVLAN and egress routing functionality.

Whenever the system detects one or more M-Series I/O modules in a FabricPath-enabled VDC, some additional MAC-learning rules are necessary to facilitate correct forwarding of routed packets. Therefore, in a mixed-module VDC, the MAC addresses of any hosts behind a particular FabricPath core port are learned as remote MAC entries on the forwarding engine ASIC controlling that core port, as shown in Figure 17.

Figure 17. M1/F1 MAC Learning

This is required so that the F-Series modules can properly encapsulate frames that are routed into the FabricPath network by M-Series modules (which cannot natively perform FabricPath encapsulation). Note that in NX-OS release 6.2(2), the proxy L2 learning capability introduces an alternative method of MAC learning in a mixed M/F VDC running FabricPath, significantly increasing the MAC scale of the FabricPath domain. For more information, see section 6.4, “Proxy Layer 2 Learning.”

6.3 MAC Learning with VPC+

Since VPC+ port-channels are effectively FabricPath edge ports, local MAC entries are learned unconditionally for any hosts or switches connected via VPC+. VPC+ introduces several additional MAC-learning rules. In addition, to ensure correct forwarding behavior, VPC+ MAC entries must by synchronized across all forwarding engine ASICs in the VDC, as well as between the VPC+ peer switches. Therefore, a VPC+ environment may not scale to as many connected host entries as a native FabricPath environment.

Note that the aforementioned limitation applies only for VPC+ peer switches that have one or more VPC+ port-channels configured. If VPC+ is enabled only to provide active-active FHRP functionality, only the behavior described in Section 6.2, “MAC Learning in a Mixed M-Series/F-Series VDC”, on page 20, applies.

6.4 Proxy Layer 2 Learning

While conversational learning can reduce the requirement to learn MAC addresses on edge switches, one limiting factor in scaling FabricPath networks is the MAC learning requirements imposed on the Layer 2/Layer 3 boundary device that provides interVLAN and/or North-South routing functions. Because the L2/L3 boundary switch typically communicates with all hosts in the network, even with conversational learning that switch must learn the MAC address of all those hosts. With F-Series modules at the L2/L3 boundary, this requirement can limit the overall host scale the FabricPath domain can support.

Starting in NX-OS release 6.2(2), you can leverage the larger capacity of the MAC address table in M-series modules by leveraging the proxy L2 learning capability. Any mixed M-Series + F-Series VDC can use proxy L2 learning to shift the burden of learning all host MACs from the smaller F-Series MAC table to the larger M-Series MAC table, increasing the overall host scale supported by the FabricPath domain.

When you enable proxy L2 learning in a mixed M+F VDC, the system relies on the M-Series modules for all interVLAN and North-South routing decisions, and the egress MAC table lookup on the M-Series module drives the destination FabricPath SID used by the egress F-Series module when performing the FabricPath encapsulation.

One side effect of using the M-Series MAC table instead of the F-Series MAC table in FabricPath is that all FabricPath-encapsulated frames sent on core ports are sent with a null LID (0) value. See section 6.5, “Changes in Local MAC Learning”, for more information.

6.5 Changes in Local MAC Learning

More recent NX-OS software releases introduce a key change to the MAC learning rules for FabricPath in order to enable larger scale FabricPath domains. Beginning in NX-OS release 6.1(2) for F2 and F2E modules, and in NX-OS release 6.2(2) for F1 modules, FabricPath automatically synchronizes all local MAC addresses learned on edge ports to all the FabricPath core ports to facilitate ingress MAC-based lookups for incoming FabricPath encapsulated frames.

The change allows Nexus 7000 edge switches to properly forward FabricPath-encapsulated frames with a null LID (without the local MAC addresses available in FabricPath core ports, frames with a null LID are flooded to all ports in the VLAN). This change in the core port MAC table programming enables the increased FabricPath domain MAC scale provided by the Proxy Layer 2 forwarding capability. Because of the requirement to have the local MAC entries synchronized to the FabricPath core ports in order to forward FabricPath-encapsulated frames with a null LID without flooding, you must ensure that all edge switches run appropriate software before enabling proxy Layer 2 learning at the Layer 2/Layer 3 boundary.

The synchronization of local MAC addresses also enables Nexus 7000 switches to support more than 244 VPC+ port-channel interfaces, as described in section 9, “VPC+.”

7. FabricPath Packet Forwarding

The following sections provide a complete description of the FabricPath frame forwarding process. The assumption in this example is that the FabricPath network has converged and full routing information has been exchanged, but no MAC address learning has occurred. Note that the behavior described in this section assumes a default configuration.

Assume that Host A and Host B are CE devices attached to FabricPath edge ports that belong to FabricPath-mode VLAN 10. The process consists of Host A sending an ARP request for Host B; Host B responding to Host A with a unicast ARP reply; and Host A sending unicast data to Host B.

7.1 Packet Flow Example

7.1.1 Broadcast ARP Request

Figure 18 shows the network topology and steps for this section.

Figure 18. Network Topology and Steps: Broadcast ARP Request

1. Host A wants to communicate with Host B, another device in the same IP subnet. Host A therefore transmits an ARP request for the IP address of Host B. This frame is a standard Ethernet frame with a source MAC (SMAC) address of Host A and an all-ones broadcast destination MAC (FFFF.FFFF.FFFF).

2. S100, a FabricPath edge switch, receives the frame on FabricPath edge port e1/13 in FabricPath-mode VLAN 10. S100 performs both a source and destination MAC address table lookup in VLAN 10 for the frame.

The source MAC lookup for {VLAN 10, MAC A} returns a miss, causing the forwarding engine on S100 to unconditionally learn MAC A as a local MAC entry for port e1/13 in VLAN 10.

In NX-OS releases prior to 6.1(2) or 6.2(2) (for F2/F2E and F1, respectively), MAC A is learned only on the forwarding engine ASIC associated with e1/13; other forwarding engines in the system do not learn MAC A. In NX-OS releases 6.1(2) or 6.2(2) and later, MAC A is also synchronized to all forwarding engines with FabricPath core ports, as described in section 6.5, “Changes in Local MAC Learning.” Figure 19 shows the MAC address table on S100 after Host A sends a broadcast ARP.

Figure 19. MAC Address Table on S100 After Broadcast ARP Request from Host A
S100# show mac address-table dynamic
Legend:
* - primary entry, G - Gateway MAC, (R) - Routed MAC, O - Overlay MAC
age - seconds since last seen,+ - primary entry using vPC Peer-Link
VLAN MAC Address Type age Secure NTFY Ports/SWID.SSID.LID
---------+-----------------+--------+---------+------+----+------------------
* 10 0000.0000.000a dynamic 30 F F Eth1/13
S100#

The destination MAC lookup indicates the frame is broadcast, causing the forwarding engine to flood the frame in VLAN 10. Any additional edge ports in VLAN 10 on S100 receive the frame. In addition, S100 must select a multidestination tree on which to flood the frame into the FabricPath core.

3. S100 selects one of the multidestination trees to forward the broadcast frame. As a general rule, FabricPath switches use a hash function (default is source and destination IP plus Layer 4 ports) to select which tree to use when forwarding broadcast, non-IP multicast, and unknown unicast traffic inside the fabric (VPC+ imposes some constraints to this behavior, as discussed in Section 9, “VPC+”, on page 40). Note however that F1 modules always use Tree 1 for forwarding broadcast, non-IP multicast, and unknown unicast frames, again with the exception of VPC+.

In this example, assume S100 selects Tree 1 to forward the broadcast frame. S100 performs a multidestination lookup for Tree 1 to determine on which interfaces the frame must be flooded. Tree 1 on S100 consists of a single link, interface port-channel 10 (po10). S100 floods the original broadcast frame on po10, encapsulated in a new FabricPath header. Figure 20 shows the forwarding information for multidestination Tree 1 on S100, indicating that all other FabricPath switches are reached only through interface port-channel 10 in multidestination tree 1 (FTAG 1).

Figure 20. FabricPath Multidestination Forwarding Tree (Tree 1) on S100
S100# show fabricpath multicast trees ftag 1
(ftag/1, topo/0, Switch-id 10), uptime: 20:50:11, isis
Outgoing interface list: (count: 1, '*' is the preferred interface)
* Interface port-channel10, [admin distance/115] uptime: 20:50:11, isis
(ftag/1, topo/0, Switch-id 20), uptime: 20:50:11, isis
Outgoing interface list: (count: 1, '*' is the preferred interface)
* Interface port-channel10, [admin distance/115] uptime: 17:42:18, isis
(ftag/1, topo/0, Switch-id 200), uptime: 20:50:11, isis
Outgoing interface list: (count: 1, '*' is the preferred interface)
* Interface port-channel10, [admin distance/115] uptime: 18:11:22, isis
(ftag/1, topo/0, Switch-id 40), uptime: 18:44:56, isis
Outgoing interface list: (count: 1, '*' is the preferred interface)
* Interface port-channel10, [admin distance/115] uptime: 17:42:18, isis
(ftag/1, topo/0, Switch-id 30), uptime: 18:44:53, isis
Outgoing interface list: (count: 1, '*' is the preferred interface)
* Interface port-channel10, [admin distance/115] uptime: 17:42:18, isis
(ftag/1, topo/0, Switch-id 300), uptime: 17:42:19, isis
Outgoing interface list: (count: 1, '*' is the preferred interface)
* Interface port-channel10, [admin distance/115] uptime: 17:42:18, isis
Found total 6 route(s)
S100#

The FabricPath header for the frame consists of the following parameters:

Outer DA: The outer DA for a broadcast frame uses the same MAC address as the inner frame, that is, the all-ones broadcast MAC.

Outer SA: The outer SA identifies the FabricPath source switch ID (SID), sub-switch ID (sSID), and port ID (or local ID, LID). In this example, the SID is 100, the sSID is 0, and the LID is 12 (a locally significant value associated with e1/13 on S100).

FabricPath Tag: The EtherType is FabricPath (0x8903), the Forwarding Tag (FTAG) is 1 (identifying multidestination Tree 1), and the TTL is 32 (default).

4. The FabricPath-encapsulated frame reaches the neighboring switch, S10, which performs a lookup for the frame. S10 uses the values in the FabricPath header to make a forwarding decision. Because the frame is broadcast, the switch uses the FTAG value already populated by S100 to identify which multidestination tree the frame is traversing.

On S10, three links belong to Tree 1, interface port-channel 100 (po100, connected to S100), interface port-channel 200 (po200, connected to S200) and interface port-channel 300 (po300, connected to S300). Since the frame arrived on po100, S10 decrements the TTL and floods the frame on the remaining two links belonging to Tree 1. Note that no MAC learning occurs on S10 based on this action.

5. S200 and S300 receive the FabricPath-encapsulated frame and perform a lookup. On S200, no additional interfaces belong to Tree 1. If any FabricPath edge ports in VLAN 10 exist, the switch removes the FabricPath header and floods the original broadcast Ethernet frame on those ports. Note that no MAC learning occurs on 200 based on these actions.

On S300, the frame arrives on port-channel 10 and three additional interfaces belong to Tree 1, port-channel 20 (po20, connected to S20), port-channel 30 (po30, connected to S30), and port-channel 40 (po40, connected to S40). S300 decrements the TTL and floods the frame on those links. Note that no MAC learning occurs on S300 based on this action.

On S20, S30, and S40, no interfaces other than the one on which the frame was received belong to multidestination Tree 1, and no FabricPath edge ports exist in VLAN 10 on these switches. Therefore, these three switches discard the frame. Note that no MAC learning occurs on these switches based on these actions.

6. In addition to flooding the FabricPath-encapsulated frame on Tree 1, if any FabricPath edge ports in VLAN 10 exist, S300 removes the FabricPath header and floods the original broadcast Ethernet frame on those ports. Note that no MAC learning occurs on S300 based on these actions.

In this case, the broadcast ARP request from Host A to Host B is received by Host B based on the broadcast flooding behavior of S300. However, the only switch in the FabricPath network that learned MAC A based on the SMAC of the broadcast frame is S100.

7.1.2 Unicast ARP Response

Figure 21 shows the network topology and steps for this section.

Figure 21. Network Topology and Steps: Unicast ARP Response

7. Having received a broadcast ARP request from Host A, Host B replies with a unicast ARP reply. This frame is a standard Ethernet frame with a source MAC (SMAC) address of Host B and the unicast destination MAC of Host A.

8. S300 receives the frame on a FabricPath edge port in FabricPath-mode VLAN 10. S300 performs both a source and destination MAC address table lookup in VLAN 10 for the frame.

The source MAC lookup for {VLAN 10, MAC B} returns a miss, causing the forwarding engine on S300 to unconditionally learn MAC B as a local MAC entry for port e2/29 in VLAN 10. (Note that MAC B is learned only on the forwarding engine associated with e2/29, and depending on software version, synchronized to the FabricPath core port forwarding engines; other forwarding engines in the system do not learn MAC B.) Figure22 shows the MAC address table on S300 after Host B sends a unicast ARP reply to Host A.

Figure 22. MAC Address Table on S300 After Unicast ARP Reply from Host B
S300# show mac address-table dynamic
Legend:
* - primary entry, G - Gateway MAC, (R) - Routed MAC, O - Overlay MAC
age - seconds since last seen,+ - primary entry using vPC Peer-Link
VLAN MAC Address Type age Secure NTFY Ports/SWID.SSID.LID
---------+-----------------+--------+---------+------+----+------------------
* 10 0000.0000.000b dynamic 30 F F Eth2/29
S300#

The destination MAC lookup for {VLAN 10, MAC A} also returns a miss, causing the forwarding engine to flood the frame in VLAN 10 as an unknown unicast. Any additional edge ports in VLAN 10 on S300 receive the frame. In addition, S300 must select a multidestination tree on which to flood the frame.

9. Assume that S300 selects multidestination Tree 1) to forward the unknown unicast frame. Having selected Tree 1, S300 performs a multidestination lookup for Tree 1 to determine on which interfaces the frame must be flooded. Tree 1 on S300 consists of four interfaces, po10, po20, po30, and po40. Therefore, S300 floods the original unknown unicast frame on those links, encapsulated in a new FabricPath header. Figure 23 shows multidestination Tree 1 on S300, showing which interface is used to reach each FabricPath switch in the domain on Tree 1.

Figure 23. FabricPath Multidestination Forwarding Tree (Tree 1) on S300
S300# show fabricpath multicast trees ftag 1
(ftag/1, topo/0, Switch-id 10), uptime: 19:35:36, isis
Outgoing interface list: (count: 1, '*' is the preferred interface)
* Interface port-channel10, [admin distance/115] uptime: 19:35:36, isis
(ftag/1, topo/0, Switch-id 20), uptime: 19:35:36, isis
Outgoing interface list: (count: 1, '*' is the preferred interface)
* Interface port-channel20, [admin distance/115] uptime: 19:35:36, isis
(ftag/1, topo/0, Switch-id 30), uptime: 19:35:36, isis
Outgoing interface list: (count: 1, '*' is the preferred interface)
* Interface port-channel30, [admin distance/115] uptime: 19:35:36, isis
(ftag/1, topo/0, Switch-id 40), uptime: 19:35:36, isis
Outgoing interface list: (count: 1, '*' is the preferred interface)
* Interface port-channel40, [admin distance/115] uptime: 19:35:36, isis
(ftag/1, topo/0, Switch-id 100), uptime: 19:35:36, isis
Outgoing interface list: (count: 1, '*' is the preferred interface)
* Interface port-channel10, [admin distance/115] uptime: 19:35:36, isis
(ftag/1, topo/0, Switch-id 200), uptime: 19:35:36, isis
Outgoing interface list: (count: 1, '*' is the preferred interface)
* Interface port-channel10, [admin distance/115] uptime: 19:35:36, isis
Found total 6 route(s)
S300#

The FabricPath header for the frame consists of the following parameters:

Outer DA: The outer DA for an unknown unicast frame uses a reserved multicast MAC address (010F.FFC1.01C0, sometimes called MC1).

Outer SA: The outer SA identifies the FabricPath source switch ID (SID), sub-switch ID (sSID), and port ID (or local ID, LID). In this example, the SID is 300, the sSID is 0, and the LID is 64 (a locally unique value associated with e2/29 on S300).

FabricPath Tag: The EtherType is FabricPath (0x8903), the Forwarding Tag (FTAG) is 1 (identifying multidestination Tree 1), and the TTL is 32 (default).

10. The FabricPath-encapsulated frames reach the neighboring switches (S10, S20, S30, and S40) which perform a lookup for the frame. Each switch uses the values in the FabricPath header to make a forwarding decision. Because the frame is unknown unicast, these switches use the FTAG value already populated by S300 to identify which multidestination tree the frame is traversing.

On S20, S30, and S40, no interfaces other than the one on which the frame was received belong to multidestination Tree 1, and no FabricPath edge ports exist in VLAN 10 on these switches. Therefore, these three switches discard the frame. Note that no MAC learning occurs on these switches based on these actions.

On S10, two additional links belong to Tree 1, po100 (connected to S100) and po200 (connected to S200). S10 decrements the TTL and floods the frame on those links. Note that no MAC learning occurs on S10 based on this action.

11. S100 and S200 receive the FabricPath-encapsulated frame and perform a lookup. On S200, no additional interfaces belong to Tree 1. If any FabricPath edge ports in VLAN 10 exist, this switch removes the FabricPath header and floods the original unicast Ethernet frame on those ports. Note that no MAC learning occurs on S200 based on these actions.

12. On S100, no additional links belong to Tree 1. However, because there are FabricPath edge ports in VLAN 10, S100 removes the FabricPath header and floods the original unicast Ethernet frame on those ports. On each egress forwarding engine, MAC lookups determine whether the DMAC is a known local MAC address; if so, the SMAC is learned as a remote MAC entry, using the values in the outer SA to populate the entry.

On the forwarding engine ASIC where Host A is attached, since the inner DMAC (MAC A) is already known as a local MAC entry, the inner SMAC (MAC B) is learned, with a SID/sSID/LID of 300.0.64. Figure 24 shows the output of the MAC address table after S100 learns MAC B. Note that no MAC learning occurs on any of the other forwarding engines in the switch.

Figure 24. MAC Address Table on S100 After Unicast ARP Reply from Host B
S100# show mac address-table dynamic
Legend:
* - primary entry, G - Gateway MAC, (R) - Routed MAC, O - Overlay MAC
age - seconds since last seen,+ - primary entry using vPC Peer-Link
VLAN MAC Address Type age Secure NTFY Ports/SWID.SSID.LID
---------+-----------------+--------+---------+------+----+------------------
* 10 0000.0000.000a dynamic 240 F F Eth1/13
10 0000.0000.000b dynamic 30 F F 300.0.64
S100#

At this point, the unicast ARP reply from Host B to Host A is received by Host A, with MAC A learned on S100 and MAC B learned on both S100 and S300.

7.1.3 Unicast Data

Figure 25 shows the network topology and steps for this section.

Figure 25. Network Topology and Steps: Unicast Data

13. Having received a unicast ARP reply from Host B, Host A can now transmit a unicast data frame to Host B. This frame is a standard Ethernet frame with a source MAC (SMAC) address of Host A and a unicast destination MAC of Host B.

14. S100 receives the frame on a FabricPath edge port in FabricPath-mode VLAN 10. S100 performs both a source and destination MAC address table lookup in VLAN 10 for the frame.

The source MAC lookup for {VLAN 10, MAC A} returns a hit, causing the forwarding engine on S100 to update the aging timer of the local entry for MAC A.

The destination MAC lookup for {VLAN 10, MAC B} also returns a hit, returning the SID, sSID, and LID associated with MAC B (300.0.64).

15. The forwarding engine performs a routing lookup for switch 300. S100 has four next-hop interfaces through which S300 is reachable, since there are four equal-cost paths available (through S10, S20, S30, and S40). Therefore, the forwarding engine on S100 uses a hash function (default is source and destination IP plus Layer 4 ports) to select one of the available paths. Figure 26 shows the FabricPath routing table for S300 on S100.

Figure 26. FabricPath Routing Table on S100 for S300
S100# show fabricpath route topology 0 switchid 300
FabricPath Unicast Route Table
'a/b/c' denotes ftag/switch-id/subswitch-id
'[x/y]' denotes [admin distance/metric]
ftag 0 is local ftag
subswitch-id 0 is default subswitch-id
FabricPath Unicast Route Table for Topology-Default
1/300/0, number of next-hops: 4
via Po10, [115/40], 0 day/s 19:07:39, isis_fabricpath-default
via Po20, [115/40], 0 day/s 19:07:40, isis_fabricpath-default
via Po30, [115/40], 0 day/s 19:07:40, isis_fabricpath-default
via Po40, [115/40], 0 day/s 19:07:40, isis_fabricpath-default
S100#

Suppose that the hash result for S300 on S100 returns interface po30, the port-channel interface connected to S30. S100 forwards the frame on po30, encapsulated in a new FabricPath header. The FabricPath header consists of the following parameters:

Outer DA: The outer DA for a known unicast frame uses the FabricPath destination SID, sSID, and LID returned from the MAC address table lookup for MAC B (in this case, 300.0.64).

Outer SA: The outer SA identifies the FabricPath source SID, sSID, and LID of the frame (in this case, 100.0.12).

FabricPath Tag: The EtherType is FabricPath (0x8903), the FTAG is 1 (identifying FabricPath topology 1), and the TTL is 32 (default).

16. S30 receives the FabricPath-encapsulated frame and performs a routing lookup based on the destination SID contained in the outer DA (300 in this case). S30 has a single next-hop interface for S300, interface po300, as shown in Figure 27.

Figure 27. FabricPath Routing Table on S30 for S300
S30# show fabricpath route topology 0 switchid 300
FabricPath Unicast Route Table
'a/b/c' denotes ftag/switch-id/subswitch-id
'[x/y]' denotes [admin distance/metric]
ftag 0 is local ftag
subswitch-id 0 is default subswitch-id
FabricPath Unicast Route Table for Topology-Default
1/300/0, number of next-hops: 1
via Po300, [115/20], 0 day/s 02:27:14, isis_fabricpath-default
S30#

S30 decrements the TTL in the FabricPath header and forwards the frame on interface po300. Note that no MAC learning occurs on S30 based on this action.

17. S300 receives the FabricPath-encapsulated frame and performs a routing lookup based on the destination SID contained in the outer DA - the lookup indicates that S300 is the egress FabricPath switch. Depending on the software version, S300 uses either the LID in the FabricPath header, or a MAC address table lookup, to determine on which physical edge interface the frame should be forwarded (in this case, either the LID value of 64, or the egress MAC table result, indicates the frame should be sent on interface e2/29).

18. On the forwarding engine ASIC where Host B is attached, since the inner DMAC (MAC B) is already known as a local MAC entry, the inner SMAC (MAC A) is learned, with a SID/sSID/LID of 100.0.12. Figure 28 shows the output of the MAC address table after S300 learns MAC A.

Figure 28. MAC Address Table on S300 After Unicast Data from Host A
S300# show mac address-table dynamic
Legend:
* - primary entry, G - Gateway MAC, (R) - Routed MAC, O - Overlay MAC
age - seconds since last seen,+ - primary entry using vPC Peer-Link
VLAN MAC Address Type age Secure NTFY Ports/SWID.SSID.LID
---------+-----------------+--------+---------+------+----+------------------
10 0000.0000.000a dynamic 0 F F 100.0.12
* 10 0000.0000.000b dynamic 150 F F Eth2/29
S300#

At this point, the unicast data from Host A to Host B is received by Host B, with both MAC A and MAC B learned on both S100 and S300. No other switches in the FabricPath fabric have learned either MAC address.

7.2 Known Unicast Forwarding

Many details of FabricPath forwarding behavior for known unicast frames are covered in Section 7.1, “Packet Flow Example”, on page 23. In brief, for known unicast frames, FabricPath edge switches use a MAC-address table lookup to determine whether the destination MAC address is local or remote. In the case of a remote destination MAC, the destination SID returned by the MAC table lookup triggers a switch ID table (routing) lookup to determine the next-hop interface on which the frame should be forwarded, encapsulated in a FabricPath header.

7.2.1 Equal-Cost Multipath Forwarding

FabricPath switches support equal-cost multipath (ECMP) forwarding for known unicast frames - if the destination SID can be reached through more than one output interface with equal cost, the forwarding engine uses a hash function to pick one of the interfaces. The hash function is per flow, using a symmetric hash input combining both Layer 3 (source and destination IP) and Layer 4 (source and destination TCP/UDP port numbers, if present) information, along with the VLAN ID by default. The hash input for unicast frames is configurable, and includes the following options:

layer-3 - Include only Layer 3 input (source or destination IP)

layer-4 - Include only Layer 4 input (source or destination TCP/UDP ports, if available)

mixed - Include both Layer 3 and Layer 4 input (default)

source - Use only source parameters (layer-3, layer-4, or mixed)

destination - Use only destination parameters (layer-3, layer-4, or mixed)

source-destination - Use both source and destination parameters (layer-3, layer-4, or mixed)

symmetric - Source and destination tuples are sorted before being input to the hash function (source→destination and destination→source flows hash identically) (default)

xor - Exclusive OR of source and destination tuples taken before being input to the hash function

include-vlan - Option to include the VLAN ID of the frame (default)

rotate-amount - Specifies number of bytes to rotate the hash string before being input to the hash function

In order to avoid hash polarization, each FabricPath switch automatically rotates the hash input some number of bytes (influenced by the VDC MAC address of the FabricPath switch) to ensure that otherwise identical hash input values return different hash results on different FabricPath switches.

7.3 VLAN Membership and FabricPath Forwarding

When a frame is carried across a FabricPath core port, the frame always includes an IEEE 802.1Q tag with the original VLAN ID of the frame (regardless of whether the FabricPath edge port it arrived on was an access port or an 802.1Q trunk). Therefore, FabricPath core ports behave as 802.1Q trunks, and VLAN ID is still used inside the FabricPath core to control forwarding and flooding behavior, very much as it is in CE networks.

Note however that FabricPath trunks carry traffic only for FabricPath-mode VLANs; CE-mode VLANs cannot be carried over a FabricPath core port. In addition, instead of using “VLAN allowed lists” to control which VLANs are carried on a core port, the act of mapping VLAN IDs to a FabricPath topology, and the corresponding assignment of core ports to that topology, controls which VLANs are carried on which FabricPath trunks. In NX-OS releases prior to6.2(2), only a single default topology is supported and all FabricPath core ports carry all FabricPath-mode VLANs configured on the switch. Beginning in NX-OS release 6.2(2), you can configure multiple topologies and map different FabricPath VLANs to each topology to control on which core ports the switch sends VLAN traffic.

While conceptually every FabricPath VLAN is carried on every core port belonging to the topology to which that VLAN is mapped, in practice, the presence or absence of a particular VLAN ID in the VLAN database of a particular switch can influence whether traffic for a particular VLAN will traverse a particular FabricPath switch. In fact, each FabricPath switch explicitly advertises its interest in each VLAN configured on the switch. The advertising of VLAN interest mimics the mechanism used to constrain IP multicast traffic, as described in Section5.5, “IP Multicast Routing”, on page 15.

When a switch advertises its interest in a VLAN, it floods a Group Membership LSP (GM-LSP) through the FabricPath domain, advertising its interest to other switches. Other FabricPath switches build forwarding state for multidestination frames on a per-VLAN basis, constraining multidestination traffic to only those core ports that need it, helping to conserve link bandwidth in the fabric.

Prior to NX-OS release 6.2(2), a switch advertises interest in a VLAN based on whether that VLAN exists on that switch. If the VLAN exists, the switch will advertise interest and neighbor switches will forward multidestination frames for that VLAN. If the VLAN does not exist, the switch does not advertise interest, and neighboring switches will not forward multidestination frames for that VLAN on core ports connected to that switch.

Use care in using this behavior to control where VLAN traffic propagates, as VLAN traffic will not transit a particular FabricPath switch if either the VLAN does not exist or the VLAN is not configured for FabricPath mode.

Beginning in NX-OS release 6.2(2), you can further refine the advertisement of switch interest in multidestination traffic for a VLAN. Use the vlan-pruning configuration command (under FabricPath domain configuration mode) to base VLAN interest not just on the existence of the VLAN in the VLAN database, but also based on the STP forwarding state of the CE edge ports in that VLAN. If no edge ports are in the forwarding state for a given VLAN, the switch withdraws interest in that VLAN, preventing other switches from sending multidestination frames for that VLAN toward the switch. This enhancement reduces unnecessary flood traffic on edge switches without requiring changes to the VLAN database on those switches.

7.4 Multidestination Traffic Forwarding

This section discusses how multidestination frames, other than IP multicast, are forwarded in FP. Note that many details of multidestination traffic forwarding behavior have already been covered in Section 7.1, “Packet Flow Example”, on page 23. Forwarding for IP multicast is discussed in Section 7.5, “IP Multicast Forwarding”, on page34.

7.4.1 Data Plane Tree Selection

When a FabricPath edge switch receives a multidestination frame on a FabricPath edge port, it selects one of the available multidestination trees to forward the frame based on a hash function. In a VPC+ environment, a VPC+ peer switch still uses a hash function to select a multidestination tree, but only trees for which that peer switch has an affinity are used. (Note that on F1 I/O modules, broadcast, unknown unicast, and non-IP multicast always use Tree 1, except in the case of VPC+.)

Once the switch determines which multidestination tree a frame will traverse, it encapsulates the frame in a FabricPath header, populating the outer SA and DA with the appropriate values and populating the FTAG field in the FabricPath tag with the unique value associated with that multidestination tree.

In a generic sense, the frame is then flooded on any FabricPath interfaces that belong to that tree, and other FabricPath switches receiving the frame will further flood the frame based on the topology of that multidestination tree.

More specifically, FabricPath IS-IS maintains flooding state for two specific cases in order to optimize frame delivery and limit unnecessary flooding.

For all flood frames, each switch advertises its interest in FabricPath VLANs - if a switch has not advertised interest, flood traffic for that VLAN is not forwarded to it.

For IP multicast, the IGMP snooping database on FabricPath edge switches is provided to IS-IS and group interest is advertised in FabricPath IS-IS, ensuring that IP multicast data only reaches those switches with interested receivers.

7.4.2 Unknown Unicast Forwarding

Many details of FabricPath forwarding behavior for unknown unicast frames are covered in Section 7.1.2, “Unicast ARP Response”, on page 26. In brief, FabricPath edge switches use a hash function to select a multidestination tree to forward unknown unicast frames (note that F1 I/O modules always use Tree 1 for unknown unicast, except in the case of VPC+).

When a destination MAC-address table lookup returns a miss, a FabricPath edge switch triggers a lookup to determine which interfaces belong to the selected multidestination tree. The frame is then flooded to any other FabricPath edge ports in the same VLAN, as well as flooded on any FabricPath core ports belonging to the selected multidestination tree, encapsulated in a FabricPath header.

Unlike known unicast, where the outer DA is populated with the destination SID, sSID, and LID, in the case of unknown unicast the outer DA is a reserved multicast MAC address known as “MC1” (010F.FFC1.01C0). FabricPath switches receiving frames with an outer DA of MC1 perform a multidestination tree lookup to determine on which interfaces to flood the frame. In other words, the ingress FabricPath switch determines which multidestination tree the frame will traverse, and other FabricPath switches simply flood the frame on any interfaces belonging to that tree.

FabricPath edge switches do not perform MAC learning based on unknown unicast frames.

7.4.3 Broadcast Forwarding

Many details of FabricPath forwarding behavior for broadcast frames are covered in Section 7.1.7.1.1, “‎Broadcast ARP Request”, on page 23. In brief, FabricPath edge switches use a hash function to select a multidestination tree to forward broadcast frames (note that F1 I/O modules always use Tree 1 for broadcast, except in the case of VPC+).

When a destination MAC-address table lookup determines the DMAC is broadcast, a FabricPath edge switch triggers a lookup to determine which interfaces belong to the selected multidestination tree. The frame is then flooded to any other FabricPath edge ports in the same VLAN, as well as flooded on any FabricPath core ports belonging to the selected multidestination tree, encapsulated in a FabricPath header.

For broadcast frames, the outer DA remains the all-ones broadcast address (FFFF.FFFF.FFFF). FabricPath switches receiving frames destined to the broadcast MAC perform a multidestination tree lookup to determine on which interfaces to flood the frame. In other words, the ingress FabricPath switch determines which multidestination tree the frame will traverse, and other FabricPath switches simply flood the frame on any interfaces belonging to that tree.

FabricPath edge switches do not perform MAC learning based on broadcast frames.

7.4.4 Non-IP Multicast Forwarding

Non-IP multicast forwarding behavior is identical to broadcast forwarding in virtually every respect. The outer DA of a FabricPath frame carrying a non-IP multicast frame remains the same as the inner destination MAC address.

One key difference between broadcast and non-IP multicast forwarding however is that FabricPath edge switches do perform remote MAC learning based on non-IP multicast frames.

7.5 IP Multicast Forwarding

As with other multidestination frames, FabricPath edge switches use a hash function to determine which multidestination tree IP multicast packets (those packets with a Class D destination IP address) should traverse. While FabricPath frames are forwarded at Layer 2, Nexus 7000 F-Series I/O modules use Layer 3 and Layer 4 information from the packet as input to the hash, and forwarding is based on the group IP address.

7.5.1 IP Multicast Load-Sharing Hash

When a FabricPath edge switch receives an IP multicast frame, it uses a hash function to pick one of the available multidestination trees. The hash function is per-flow, using a symmetric hash input combining both Layer 3 (source and destination IP) and Layer 4 (source and destination TCP/UDP port numbers, if present) information, as well as VLAN ID. The hash input for multicast frames is configurable, and includes the following options:

source - Use only Layer 3 and Layer 4 source parameters

destination - Use only Layer 3 and Layer 4 destination parameters

source-destination - Use both Layer 3 and Layer 4 source and destination parameters

symmetric - Source and destination tuples are sorted before being input to the hash function (source→destination and destination→source flows hash identically) (default)

xor - Exclusive OR of source and destination tuples taken before being input to the hash function

include-vlan - Option to include the VLAN ID of the frame (default)

rotate-amount - Specifies number of bytes to rotate the hash string before being input to the hash function

Note that for IP multicast on F1 modules, the Layer 4 ports, if present, are always used as input to the hash.

7.5.2 IP Multicast Forwarding Packet Flow

F-series I/O modules make IP multicast forwarding decisions based on (*,G) IP address lookups, on a per-tree and a per-VLAN basis. While IP multicast forwarding decisions use a hash function to select a multidestination tree, multicast packets do not necessarily traverse every core port in the selected tree. Which core ports forward a multicast frame depends on where the multicast receivers and routers are located relative to the switch making a forwarding decision.

In other words, FabricPath IS-IS on each switch creates a “pruned tree” to constrain multicast data frames to just those FabricPath switches that have either interested receivers, or a multicast router (or both), connected. More details on the multicast control plane in FabricPath are discussed in Section 5.5, “IP Multicast Routing”, on page15. Once multicast state is established, data-plane multicast forwarding occurs entirely in hardware.

Figure 29 shows the network topology and steps for data-plane multicast forwarding for Group G1 when Tree 1 is selected.

1. Host A, a multicast source for IP Group G1, begins sending IP multicast data on a FabricPath edge port on S300 in FabricPath-mode VLAN 10. This frame is a standard Ethernet frame with a source MAC (SMAC) address of Host A and an IP multicast destination MAC (for this example, assume the DMAC is 0100.5E11.1111).

2. S300 receives the frame on a FabricPath edge port in FabricPath-mode VLAN 10. S300 performs both a source and destination MAC address table lookup in VLAN 10 for the frame.

The source MAC lookup triggers an unconditional new learn or updates an existing entry for MAC A. The destination MAC lookup indicates the frame is IP multicast, causing the forwarding engine to use a hash function to select a multidestination tree on which to forward the frame.

Suppose the hash function selects Tree 1. The forwarding engine next performs a (*,G) IP-based lookup for the frame for Tree 1 in VLAN 10. Recall from Section 5.5, “IP Multicast Routing”, on page 15, that this forwarding entry will contain an output interface list (OIL) that combines:

Any edge ports with interested receivers or multicast routers (learned via IGMP snooping)

Any FabricPath core ports in Tree 1 through which other edge switches with interested receivers or multicast routers may be reached

In this case, there are two output interfaces (OIFs) in the OIL - the edge port with the multicast router attached, and the FabricPath core port in Tree 1 through which S100 may be reached.

3. S300 forwards the IP multicast frame on all the OIFs returned by the forwarding engine lookup. On the FabricPath edge port connected to the multicast router, S300 transmits a standard Ethernet frame. On the FabricPath core port connected to S20, S300 transmits the original multicast frame encapsulated in a new FabricPath header. The FabricPath header for the frame consists of the following parameters:

Outer DA: The outer DA for an IP multicast frame uses the same MAC address as the inner frame (in this case, 0100.5E11.1111).

Outer SA: The outer SA identifies the FabricPath source switch ID (SID), sub-switch ID (sSID), and port ID (or local ID, LID). In this example, the SID is 300, the sSID is 0, and the LID is 29 (a locally significant value associated with e2/30 on S300).

FabricPath Tag: The EtherType is FabricPath (0x8903), the Forwarding Tag (FTAG) is 1 (identifying multidestination Tree 1), and the TTL is 32 (default).

4. The FabricPath-encapsulated frame reaches the neighboring switch, S20, which performs a lookup for the frame. S20 uses the values in the FabricPath header to make a forwarding decision.

Because the frame is IP multicast, the switch uses the FTAG value already populated by S300 to identify which multidestination tree the frame is traversing (Tree 1). S20 performs a (*,G) IP-based lookup for the frame for Tree 1 in VLAN 10. In this case, there is a single OIF, the FabricPath core port in Tree 1 through which S100 may be reached. S20 decrements the TTL and forwards the otherwise unchanged frame.

Notice that S20 does not forward the frame on the FabricPath core port connected to S200, even though that port is part of Tree 1. This illustrates how for each IP multicast group, FabricPath IS-IS maintains a pruned forwarding tree consisting of just those core ports through which switches with interested receivers may be reached. Since S200 does not have a receiver for Group G1, that core port is pruned from the G1 forwarding tree.

5. Forwarding continues along Tree 1 until the FabricPath-encapsulated frame arrives at S100. S100 performs a lookup for the frame, using the values in the FabricPath header to make a forwarding decision. Because the frame is IP multicast, the switch uses the FTAG value in the frame to identify which multidestination tree the frame is traversing (Tree 1). S100 performs a (*,G) IP-based lookup for the frame for Tree 1 in VLAN 10.

6. In this case, there is a single OIF, the FabricPath edge port with the multicast receiver for G1 attached. S100 strips off the FabricPath encapsulation and forwards the original multicast frame as a standard Ethernet frame on the FabricPath edge port.

Figure 30 shows the same network topology as the previous example, but illustrates the steps for data-plane multicast forwarding for Group G1 when Tree 2 is selected.

Figure 30. Multicast Forwarding for Group G1

7. As in the previous example, Host A sends IP multicast data for G1 on a FabricPath edge port on S300 in FabricPath-mode VLAN 10.

8. S300 receives the frame, but in this case the hash function selects Tree 2. The forwarding engine performs a (*,G) IP-based lookup for the frame for Tree 2 in VLAN 10. As in the previous example, there are two output interfaces (OIFs), but in this case the FabricPath core port through which S100 may be reached is the core port in Tree 2.

9. S300 forwards the IP multicast frame on all the OIFs returned by the forwarding engine lookup, including the multicast router port and the FabricPath core port connected to S40. The FabricPath header for the frame transmitted to S40 consists of the following parameters:

Outer DA: The outer DA for an IP multicast frame uses the same MAC address as the inner frame (in this case, 0100.5E11.1111).

Outer SA: The outer SA identifies the FabricPath source switch ID (SID), sub-switch ID (sSID), and port ID (or local ID, LID). In this example, the SID is 300, the sSID is 0, and the LID is 29 (a locally significant value associated with e2/30 on S300).

FabricPath Tag: The EtherType is FabricPath (0x8903), the Forwarding Tag (FTAG) is 2 (identifying multidestination Tree 2), and the TTL is 32 (default).

10. The FabricPath-encapsulated frame reaches the neighboring switch, S40, which performs a lookup for the frame. S40 uses the values in the FabricPath header to make a forwarding decision.

Because the frame is IP multicast, the switch uses the FTAG value already populated by S300 to identify which multidestination tree the frame is traversing (Tree 2). S40 performs a (*,G) IP-based lookup for the frame for Tree 2 in VLAN 10. In this case, there is a single OIF, the FabricPath core port in Tree 2 through which S100 may be reached. S40 decrements the TTL and forwards the otherwise unchanged frame.

11. Forwarding continues along Tree 2 until the FabricPath-encapsulated frame arrives at S100. S100 performs a lookup for the frame, using the values in the FabricPath header to make a forwarding decision. Because the frame is IP multicast, the switch uses the FTAG value in the frame to identify which multidestination tree the frame is traversing (Tree 2). S100 performs a (*,G) IP-based lookup for the frame for Tree 2 in VLAN 10.

12. In this case, there is a single OIF, the FabricPath edge port with the multicast receiver for G1 attached. S100 strips off the FabricPath encapsulation and forwards the original multicast frame as a standard Ethernet frame on the FabricPath edge port.

Notice that S100 does not forward the frame on the FabricPath core port connected to S10, even though that port is part of Tree 2. This illustrates how for each IP multicast group, FabricPath IS-IS maintains a pruned forwarding tree consisting of just those core ports through which switches with interested receivers may be reached. Since S10, S20, and S200 do not have a receiver for Group G1, the core port connected to S10 is pruned from the G1 forwarding tree.

8. FabricPath Interaction with Spanning Tree

FabricPath supports not only direct Classic Ethernet host connections but also connection of traditional Spanning-Tree switches to FabricPath edge ports. By default, FabricPath switches transmit and process STP BPDUs on FabricPath edge ports (you can modify this behavior using features such as BPDU guard and BPDU filter), and therefore participate in building the STP forwarding topology in each connected STP domain.

However, BPDUs, including TCNs, are not transmitted on FabricPath core ports and no BPDUs are forwarded or tunneled through the FabricPath domain by default (a configuration option to forward TCNs through FabricPath is discussed in Section 8.1, “Forwarding TCNs”, on page 39). Therefore, FabricPath isolates each STP domain and topology changes in one STP domain are not propagated to other domains connected to the same FabricPath fabric.

This isolation is accomplished by having the entire FabricPath domain appear as a single STP bridge to any connected STP domains, as shown in Figure 31. In order to appear as one STP bridge, all FabricPath bridges share a common bridge ID, or BID (C84C.75FA.6000). This BID is statically defined and is not user-configurable.

Figure 31. FabricPath Domain Appears as One Logical Bridge to Each STP Domain

Each FabricPath edge switch must be configured as root for all FabricPath VLANs. If you are connecting STP devices to the FabricPath fabric, make sure you configure all edge switches as STP root by using the spanning‑tree vlan x root primary command (or manually configure the bridge priority on each switch to force the switch to be root). Additionally, if multiple FabricPath edge switches connect to the same STP domain, make sure that those edge switches use the same bridge priority value.

In order to ensure the FabricPath fabric acts as STP root, all FabricPath edge ports have the STP root-guard function enabled implicitly - if a superior BPDU is received on a FabricPath edge port, the port is placed in the “L2 Gateway Inconsistent” state until the condition is cleared (that is, superior BPDUs are no longer being received). Asyslog is also generated when this condition occurs:

%STP-2-L2GW_BACKBONE_BLOCK: L2 Gateway Backbone port inconsistency blocking port port-channel100 on VLAN0010.

8.1 Forwarding TCNs

By default, STP BPDUs are not carried through the FabricPath core, and topology change events are constrained to the individual STP domain in which they occur. However, a configuration option is available to enable FabricPath edge switches to forward TCNs through the FabricPath cloud in order to support certain topologies. Figure 32 illustrates why TCNs must be carried through the FabricPath core in some cases in order to optimize reconvergence on a switch or interface failure.

Figure 32. TCNs are not Forwarded into FabricPath by Default

In this example, because S2 does not propagate the TCN into the FabricPath core, S1 will not flush its MAC table and will continue to forward frames destined for MAC A toward the STP bridge rather than through S2 via the FabricPath core.

To optimize reconvergence when connecting extended STP domains to a FabricPath core, assign a STP domain ID to the FabricPath edge switches using the spanning-tree domain id global configuration command. Assign the same domain ID to FabricPath edge switches interconnected through a STP topology. Figure 33 illustrates a FabricPath network with two STP domains connected.

Suppose a TCN is generated in STP domain 1. Other FabricPath edge switches connected to the same STP domain should receive the TCN through the FabricPath core in order to flush their MAC tables. In addition, those edge switches must propagate the TCN back into the STP domain to facilitate reconvergence on other STP switches. For example, in Figure 33, if S2 receives a TCN from an edge port, it should forward the TCN into FabricPath so that S1 can flush its MAC entries and also forward the TCN back into the STP domain.

At the same time, FabricPath edge switches connected to other STP domains also need to receive the TCN so they can flush any entries associated with the originating STP domain, but there is no need to forward such TCNs into their own STP domains. For example, in Figure 33, if S3 receives a TCN from STP domain 1, it should flush its MAC entries for S1 and S2 but it should not forward the TCN into STP domain 2. Because the TCN flooded into FabricPath from S2 originated from a different STP domain ID, S3 and S4 will not propagate the TCN into STP domain 2.

9. VPC+

FabricPath extends the benefits of Virtual Port-Channel (VPC) to a FabricPath environment with the introduction of VPC+. Just like VPC, VPC+ provides active-active uplink capability for dual-homed hosts as well as for traditional CE network infrastructure such as STP switches, routers, and services (such as firewalls and load balancers). As long as the connected device supports port-channels (also known as EtherChannel, link aggregation [LAG], etc.), the device can benefit from VPC+. VPC+ supports both dynamic (negotiated through LACP) and static (‘nailing up’) port-channels that connect from a single CE device to a pair of FabricPath switches.

9.1 Basics of VPC+

The hardware and software configuration for VPC+ is virtually identical to that of traditional VPC. There are only a few key differences:

You must configure a FabricPath switch ID (SID) under the VPC domain (fabricpath switch-id x) - This SID acts as a virtual switch that the VPC+ peers present to the network (more details below).

You must use F-Series interfaces as the VPC+ peer link

The VPC+ peer link must be configured as a FabricPath core port (switchport mode fabricpath)

Figure 34 illustrates how VPC+ introduces a virtual switch into the FabricPath network.

Figure 34. VPC+ Introduces a Virtual Switch into the FabricPath Topology

S1 and S2 are the VPC+ peer switches. Both a peer link and a keepalive link are required between these switches (just as in VPC). The VPC+ peer link must consist of interfaces on F-Series I/O modules and must be configured as a FabricPath core port. Options for the VPC+ peer keepalive link are described in Section 9.2, “VPC+ Peer Keepalive Configuration”, on page 42.

The VPC+ virtual SID you configure under the VPC domain must be unique in the FabricPath domain - no other physical switch should use that SID, and no other VPC domain should use the same virtual SID.

The virtual SID is used by the VPC+ peers to populate the outer-SA SID field in all FabricPath-encapsulated frames originating from a VPC+ port-channel. In addition, by default, a VPC+-domain specific sub-switch ID (sSID) identifies the specific originating VPC+ port-channel. The port ID (or local ID, LID) associated with MAC addresses originating from a VPC+ port-channel is set to a value shared by both VPC+ peer switches. Figure 35 illustrates how the FabricPath outer-SA fields are populated in a VPC+ environment.

Figure 35. Outer-SA Fields in VPC+

Notice that the VPC+ virtual SID (4) and the shared LID value (4513) are the same in the outer-SA field for frames sourced from either VPC+-attached switch. However, the sSID differs, since this field uniquely identifies each VPC+ port-channel interface in the VPC+ domain. Once other FabricPath switches learn MAC A and MAC B as remote MAC entries, any frames forwarded back toward the VPC+ domain use the virtual SID as the destination. When the frames arrive at either VPC+ peer switch (S1 or S2), the sSID value identifies on which output VPC+ port-channel the frame should be forwarded.

Because the sSID field is 8 bits, using the sSID to uniquely identify VPC+ port-channels imposes a limit of roughly 244 VPC+ port-channels per VPC+ switch pair. Beginning in NX-OS release 6.1(2), use the no port-channel limit command in VPC domain configuration mode to remove the 244 VPC+ port-channel limit for F2/F2E modules (note that F1 modules do not support this configuration option and are limited to a maximum of 244 VPC+ port-channels).

When you configure this option, the switch uses the local MAC addresses synchronized to the FabricPath core ports, instead of the sSID in the FabricPath encapsulation, to select the destination VPC+ port-channel, removing the need to populate or carry the sSID in the FabricPath encapsulation. For more details on the synchronization of local MAC address entries to FabricPath core ports, see section 6.5, “Changes in Local MAC Learning.”

9.2 VPC+ Peer Keepalive Configuration

The VPC+ peer keepalive link can use any of the usual methods for keepalive connectivity (direct connection, supervisor mgmt0 interface, etc.). For direct connections, you can use M-Series I/O module interfaces, if you have M-Series modules in the VDC, or you can use F-Series I/O module interfaces.

When using direct connections on M-Series or F2/F2E interfaces, configure IP addresses on each end of the connection and if possible define a separate dedicated VRF for the peer keepalive connectivity (note that VRF configuration requires a Layer 3 Enterprise Services license).

When using direct connections on F1 interfaces, define a dedicated VLAN ID for peer-keepalive connectivity, then define a VLAN interface (SVI) on each switch and configure an IP address and, if possible, a dedicated VRF. Additionally, make sure to add the management configuration command under the SVIs to allow the SVI to remain in the up state even if no M-Series I/O modules are present. Figure 36 shows a topology that uses F1 I/O module interfaces for the peer keepalive link, while Figure 37 shows the peer keepalive-specific configuration on each VPC+ peer.

Figure 36. Using F1 Interfaces for VPC+ Peer Keepalive Connectivity

hostname S1
vrf context pka
!
interface Ethernet1/1
switchport mode trunk
switchport access vlan 10
spanning-tree port type edge
no shutdown
!
interface Vlan10
no shutdown
management
vrf member pka
ip address 10.1.1.1/30
!
vpc domain 1
peer-keepalive destination 10.1.1.2 source 10.1.1.1 vrf pka
*****
hostname S2
vrf context pka
!
interface Ethernet2/1
switchport mode trunk
switchport access vlan 10
spanning-tree port type edge
no shutdown
!
interface Vlan10
no shutdown
management
vrf member pka
ip address 10.1.1.2/30
!
vpc domain 1
peer-keepalive destination 10.1.1.1 source 10.1.1.2 vrf pka

Whether using M-Series or F-Series I/O module interfaces for the peer keepalive, use caution if you are unable to isolate the interfaces using a dedicated VRF (for example, no Layer 3 license is installed). Without a dedicated VRF configuration, the switch treats the Layer 3 interface or SVI used for the peer keepalive as any other interface, and may route traffic over it, which is probably not desirable.

9.3 Active/Active HSRP Forwarding

As with traditional VPC, VPC+ offers active/active HSRP forwarding when the VPC+ peers have formed an HSRP active/standby relationship. That is, either VPC+ peer switch will perform Layer 3 forwarding for traffic destined to the HSRP virtual MAC (VMAC) address.

The VPC+ peer with the active HSRP control-plane instance transmits HSRP hellos, sourced from the HSRP VMAC and destined to the all-HSRP-routers address. When these hellos are sent on FabricPath core ports, the outer-SA field contains the VPC+ virtual SID, causing FabricPath edge switches to learn the HSRP VMAC as a remote MAC using the VPC+ virtual SID and not the SID of the particular VPC+ peer switch. CE switches connected behind VPC+ port-channels learn the VMAC on the port-channel interface connecting to the VPC+ peers.

Figure 38 illustrates the physical and logical topology of a VPC+ configuration.

Figure 38. Active/Active HSRP with VPC+

This technique enables all devices, regardless of whether they are connected through VPC+ port-channels or native FabricPath ports, to leverage the active/active HSRP forwarding function of VPC+, and to use multiple paths toward the default gateway. When a FabricPath edge switch needs to send a frame to the HSRP VMAC, the MAC address table lookup returns the VPC+ virtual SID as the destination switch. When a CE device connected to a VPC+ port-channel needs to send a frame to the HSRP VMAC, the traffic can take any physical link in the port-channel, arriving at either VPC+ peer switch, either of which can route the packet.

10. Anycast HSRP

Anycast HSRP, introduced in NX-OS release 6.2(2), provides an n-way active gateway function for FabricPath, allowing multiple switches to perform interVLAN and Layer 3 exit routing for devices in the FabricPath domain. Anycast (AC) HSRP requires no direct connection between AC switches and requires no VPC domain configuration whatsoever.

AC HSRP uses the following mechanisms to implement the n-way active gateway function:

All AC HSRP switches share a virtual gateway IP address for each VLAN/SVI, exactly as in traditional HSRP

All AC HSRP switches share a virtual gateway MAC address for one or more VLANs/SVIs, exactly as in traditional HSRP

All AC HSRP switches advertise reachability to an Anycast SID (ASID), a virtual SID shared by all the AC HSRP switches

In the control plane, one of the AC HSRP switches assumes the Active state, one the Standby state, and any others the Listen state, as shown in Figure 39.

Figure 39. Anycast HSRP Control Plane State

The Active switch processes all ARP requests for the virtual gateway IP address, responding with the virtual MAC address. In addition, the Active switch sources HSRP Hello packets from the ASID so that the virtual MAC is learned by other switches as connected to the ASID, as shown in Figure 40.

Figure 40. Anycast HSRP Hellos

Other FabricPath switches treat the ASID as they do any other SID - they install a route and can forward traffic destined to the ASID using multiple parallel paths (ECMP) if available. Figure 41 illustrates the resulting state in other FabricPath switches in an Anycast HSRP environment - for example, edge switch S100 has 4-way ECMP toward the ASID and will load share traffic destined to the HSRP virtual MAC across all four paths.

Figure 41. ECMP for the Anycast SID

AC HSRP delivers a significant advantage with respect to failure detection because the availability of a given AC HSRP switch is based on FabricPath IS-IS reachability, not expiring HSRP dead timers. For example, if an AC HSRP switch fails, the IS-IS adjacencies are immediately lost on neighbor switches and reachability of the ASID through those switches is withdrawn and the remaining AC HSRP switches can transition state immediately as necessary.

11. Conclusion

As illustrated in this document, the FabricPath technology available on Nexus 7000 Series switches running NX-OS software introduces new control-plane and data-plane capabilities that allow network operators to create Ethernet fabrics that increase maximize bandwidth availability, provide design flexibility, and simplify and cost-reduce network and application deployment and operation.

Additional information about FabricPath is available online at: http://www.cisco.com/go/fabricpath.