This document discusses buffer misses and failures on the Routing Processor (RP).
There are no specific requirements for this document.
This document is not restricted to specific software and hardware versions.
The information in this document was created from the devices in a specific lab environment. All of the devices used in this document started with a cleared (default) configuration. If your network is live, make sure that you understand the potential impact of any command.
Refer to Cisco Technical Tips Conventions for more information on document conventions.
The RP divides its processor memory into pools. Each pool contains a number of memory blocks of equal size. These memory blocks are called buffers.
There are six buffer pools:
For example, if an interface processor needs to pass a 20 byte packet to the RP, it “asks” for a Small buffer. If an interface processor needs to pass a 500 byte packet to the RP, it asks for a Middle buffer, and so forth.
Note: The interface processor must ask for a buffer of a certain size.
When the interface processor asks for a buffer, this occurs:
If a free buffer exists within the requested pool, the buffer is granted. Otherwise, the request generates a “miss” and the buffer algorithm tries to “create” more buffers for that pool .
When IOS fails to get a Small buffer, it does not drop the packet. It increments the failed counter and falls through to the next level buffer, which is the Middle buffer and requests a buffer there. If it fails to get a Middle buffer, it requests the next level buffer, which is a Big buffer. This process continues until it hits the Huge buffer pool. If it fails to get a Huge buffer, then it drops the packet.
When you use the IBM feature set, a miss almost always generates a failure.
Although the IBM features may be process-switched, the code to get a buffer to pass a packet from an interface to the RP executes at interrupt level.
Buffers can not be created at interrupt level; consequently, a miss queues its request for more buffers to the RP.
Because an additional buffer can not be created on the spot, the buffer request fails, and the packet is dropped.
Buffer failures are one of the most common reasons for packet drops. When packet drops occur because of buffer failure, this occurs:
After a buffer failure, the RP has an outstanding request to create more buffers of the appropriate size for the particular pool.
While the RP is servicing the create buffers request, there may be additional failures in the pool.
The RP may even fail to create more buffers, because of memory constraints in the system when the extra buffers are required.
Essentially, the create buffers operation could take several microseconds, in which packets are continually dropped because of the buffer shortage.
In addition, if buffers are used as quickly as they are created, the RP could be forced to spend more time on buffer creation than on packet processing.
This may cause the RP to begin to drop packets so quickly that performance degrades and sessions are lost.
Fortunately, as this document discusses, buffer failure problems are not difficult to identify and resolve. This show buffers command output shows the current state of the router’s buffer pools:
500 in free list (500 max allowed)
2370 hits, 0 misses, 0 created
Public buffer pools:
Small buffers, 104 bytes (total 16, permanent 10):
11 in free list (0 min, 10 max allowed)
1770 hits, 33 misses, 22 trims, 28 created
9 failures (0 no memory)
Middle buffers, 600 bytes (total 90, permanent 90):
89 in free list (10 min, 200 max allowed)
590 hits, 0 misses, 0 trims, 0 created
0 failures (0 no memory)
Big buffers, 1524 bytes (total 90, permanent 90):
90 in free list (5 min, 300 max allowed)
126 hits, 0 misses, 0 trims, 0 created
0 failures (0 no memory)
VeryBig buffers, 4520 bytes (total 10, permanent 10):
10 in free list (0 min, 300 max allowed)
50 hits, 0 misses, 0 trims, 0 created
0 failures (0 no memory)
Large buffers, 5024 bytes (total 10, permanent 10):
10 in free list (0 min, 30 max allowed)
0 hits, 0 misses, 0 trims, 0 created
0 failures (0 no memory)
Huge buffers, 18024 bytes (total 2, permanent 0):
0 in free list (0 min, 13 max allowed)
2 hits, 2 misses, 0 trims, 2 created
0 failures (0 no memory)
In the show buffers output:
Total identifies the total number of buffers in the pool, which include used and unused buffers.
Permanent identifies the permanent number of allocated buffers in the pool. These buffers are always in the pool and can not be trimmed away.
In free list identifies the number of buffers currently in the pool that are available for use.
Min identifies the minimum number of buffers that the RP should attempt to keep in the free list:
The min parameter is used to anticipate demand for buffers from the pool at any given time.
If the number of buffers in free list falls below the min value, the RP attempts to create more buffers for that pool.
Max-allowed identifies the maximum number of buffers that are allowed in the free list:
The max-allowed parameter prevents a pool from monopolizing buffers that it does not need anymore. It also frees this memory back to the system for further use.
If the number of buffers in the free list is greater than the max-allowed value, the RP should attempt to trim buffers from the pool.
Hits identifies the number of buffers that have been requested from the pool. The hits counter provides a mechanism to determine which pool must meet the highest demand for buffers.
Misses identifies the number of times that a buffer has been requested and the RP detected in which pool additional buffers were required. In other words, the number of buffers in the free list has dropped below min level. The misses counter represents the number of times the RP has been forced to create additional buffers.
Trims identifies the number of buffers that the RP has trimmed from the pool, when the number of buffers in the free list exceeded the number of max-allowed buffers.
Created identifies the number of buffers that have been created in the pool. The RP creates buffers in these situations:
When demand for buffers has increased until the number of buffers in the free list is less than the min buffers.
A miss occurs because there are no buffers in the free list.
Both of the previous situations.
Failures identifies when IOS fails to get a Small buffer, it does not drop the packet. It increments the failed counter and falls through to the next level buffer, which is the Middle buffer and requests a buffer there. If it fails to get a middle buffer, it requests the next level buffer, which is a Big buffer. This process continues until it hits the Huge buffer pool. If it fails to get a Huge buffer, then it drops the packet.
No memory identifies the number of failures caused by insufficient memory to create additional buffers.
You can can examine the characteristics of each pool, to determine which pools (if any) are encountering problems. The parameters for a pool can be tuned to allow the router to be better prepared to handle the load, if the pool seems to exhibit these characteristics:
The number of misses and creates increment at a high rate (as a percentage of hits).
There is a consistently low number of buffers in the free list.
The number of failures or no memory increment.
With the buffers configuration command, you can tune these parameters for each buffer pool:
initial—Temporary buffers that are allocated at system reload.
max-free—Maximum number of free buffers.
min-free—Minimum number of free buffers.
permanent—Number of permanent buffers.
Tune initial buffers to accommodate the burst of session-establishment traffic after router reload.
buffers small initial 250
These buffers are eventually “trimmed” and returned to the system.
The initial buffers are designed to handle session establishment, which is always process-switched.
During session establishment, the fastswitching cache (used by other route protocols) is populated; process-switched buffers are no longer required and may be returned to the system.
To tune initial buffers may not be the correct solution for the IBM feature set, because almost all packets (after session establishment) are process-switched and require the additional buffering anyway.
Note: For the IBM process-switched features, you should tune permanent buffers rather than tune the temporary initial buffers.
Tune max-free buffers so that the value is equal to or greater than the permanent buffers. If all permanent buffers are in the free list, then the RP should not try to trim permanent buffers. Max-free can be used to ensure that unused buffers that are created during irregular bursts are returned to the system memory.
buffers small max-free 175
buffers small permanent 125
Tune min-free buffers so that the value represents the estimated minimum number of buffers required at any time. Min-free can be used to anticipate buffer shortage conditions and to ensure that a minimum number of buffers are always available.
buffers small min-free 50
Tune permanent buffers so that the value represents the estimated number of buffers required for normal processing.
buffers small permanent 125
Permanent buffers are used to accommodate the normal buffer requirements (including frequent bursts) of the router. Determination of the normal buffer requirements is an interactive process, where the show buffer output should show the total buffers used in a pool at a given time. Permanent buffers should be tuned with regard to the consistent "total" buffers required. When you tune permanent buffers, you should focus on the reduction of creates and the elimination of misses and failures.
There are two other show commands that you can use to identify problems with buffer allocation:
This show interfaces interface-identifier sample command output includes a counter for no buffer:
dspu-7k#show interfaces channel 4/2
Channel4/2 is up, line protocol is up
Hardware is cxBus IBM Channel
MTU 4472 bytes, BW 98304 Kbit, DLY 100 usec, rely 255/255, load 1/255
Encapsulation CHANNEL, loopback not set, keepalive not set
Last input 0:00:04, output 0:00:04, output hang never
Last clearing of "show interface" counters never
Output queue 0/40, 0 drops; input queue 0/75, 8 drops
5 minute input rate 0 bits/sec, 0 packets/sec
5 minute output rate 0 bits/sec, 0 packets/sec
646 packets input, 27760 bytes, 8 no buffer
Received 0 broadcasts, 0 runts, 0 giants
0 input errors, 0 CRC, 0 frame, 0 overrun, 0 ignored, 0 abort
328 packets output, 16959 bytes, 0 underruns
0 output errors, 0 collisions, 0 interface resets, 0 restarts
0 output buffer failures, 0 output buffers swapped out
In the show interfaces interface-identifier command output:
The no buffer counter increments when the interface fails to obtain a buffer for an inbound packet.
Both the no buffer and drops (input queue) counters increment when the interface fails to obtain a buffer for an inbound packet.
A no buffer counter that increments in the show interfaces output correlates to the misses counter that increments in the show buffers output. The appropriate buffer pool may be tuned.
This show source-bridge sample command output includes an interface counter for throttles, when source-route bridging (SRB) is configured for the interface:
Local Interfaces: receive transmit
srn bn trn r p s n max hops cnt:bytes cnt:bytes drops
Ch4/2 666 1 99 * f 7 7 7 652:26020 6:266 0
Global RSRB Parameters:
TCP Queue Length maximum: 100
Ring Group 99:
This TCP peer: 220.127.116.11
Maximum output TCP queue length, per peer: 100
Peers: state bg lv pkts_rx pkts_tx expl_gn drops TCP
TCP 18.104.22.168 open *3 261 266 0 0 0
TCP 22.214.171.124 - *3 0 0 0 0 0
bn: 1 rn: 888 locvrt ma: 4000.7000.fff1 Buff Ring888 fwd: 0
bn: 1 RN: 666 local ma: 4000.0c48.2e80 Channel4/2 fwd: 261
bn: 1 RN: 88 remote ma: 4000.4000.fff1 TCP 126.96.36.199 fwd: 322
bn: 1 RN: 250 remote ma: 4000.300f.7c09 TCP 188.8.131.52 fwd: 0
Explorers: ------- input ------- ------- output -------
spanning all-rings total spanning all-rings total
Ch4/2 0 0 0 0 1 1
Local: fastswitched 0 flushed 0 max Bps 256000
rings inputs bursts throttles output drops
Ch4/2 0 0 8 0
In the show source-bridge command output:
The throttles counter increments when the interface fails to obtain a buffer for an inbound packet.
The throttles counter that increments in the show interfaces command output correlates to a misses counter that increments in the show buffers command output. The appropriate buffer pool may be tuned.