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Date:   Sun, 09 Jan 2022 13:30:00 +0100
From:   Toke Høiland-Jørgensen <>
To:     Alexei Starovoitov <>
Cc:     Alexei Starovoitov <>,
        Daniel Borkmann <>,
        Andrii Nakryiko <>,
        Martin KaFai Lau <>,
        Song Liu <>, Yonghong Song <>,
        John Fastabend <>,
        KP Singh <>,
        "David S. Miller" <>,
        Jakub Kicinski <>,
        Jesper Dangaard Brouer <>,
        Network Development <>,
        bpf <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH bpf-next v7 1/3] bpf: Add "live packet" mode for XDP in

Alexei Starovoitov <> writes:

> On Sat, Jan 08, 2022 at 09:19:41PM +0100, Toke Høiland-Jørgensen wrote:
>> Sure, totally fine with documenting it. Just seems to me the most
>> obvious place to put this is in a new
>> Documentation/bpf/prog_test_run.rst file with a short introduction about
>> the general BPF_PROG_RUN mechanism, and then a subsection dedicated to
>> this facility.
> sgtm


>> > I guess it's ok-ish to get stuck with 128.
>> > It will be uapi that we cannot change though.
>> > Are you comfortable with that?
>> UAPI in what sense? I'm thinking of documenting it like:
>> "The packet data being supplied as data_in to BPF_PROG_RUN will be used
>>  for the initial run of the XDP program. However, when running the
>>  program multiple times (with repeat > 1), only the packet *bounds*
>>  (i.e., the data, data_end and data_meta pointers) will be reset on each
>>  invocation, the packet data itself won't be rewritten. The pages
>>  backing the packets are recycled, but the order depends on the path the
>>  packet takes through the kernel, making it hard to predict when a
>>  particular modified page makes it back to the XDP program. In practice,
>>  this means that if the XDP program modifies the packet payload before
>>  sending out the packet, it has to be prepared to deal with subsequent
>>  invocations seeing either the initial data or the already-modified
>>  packet, in arbitrary order."
>> I don't think this makes any promises about any particular size of the
>> page pool, so how does it constitute UAPI?
> Could you explain out-of-order scanario again?
> It's possible only if xdp_redirect is done into different netdevs.
> Then they can xmit at different times and cycle pages back into
> the loop in different order. But TX or REDIRECT into the same netdev
> will keep the pages in the same order. So the program can rely on
> that.

I left that out on purpose: I feel it's exposing an internal
implementation detail as UAPI (as you said). And I'm not convinced it
really needed (or helpful) - see below.

>> >
>> > reinit doesn't feel necessary.
>> > How one would use this interface to send N different packets?
>> > The api provides an interface for only one.
>> By having the XDP program react appropriately. E.g., here is the XDP
>> program used by the trafficgen tool to cycle through UDP ports when
>> sending out the packets - it just reads the current value and updates
>> based on that, so it doesn't matter if it sees the initial page or one
>> it already modified:
> Sure. I think there is an untapped potential here.
> With this live packet prog_run anyone can buy 10G or 100G nic equipped
> server and for free transform it into $300k+ IXIA beating machine.
> It could be a game changer. pktgen doesn't come close.
> I'm thinking about generating and consuming test TCP traffic.
> TCP blaster would xmit 1M TCP connections through this live prog_run
> into eth0 and consume the traffic returning from "server under test"
> via a different XDP program attached to eth0.
> The prog_run's xdp prog would need to send SYN, increment sequence number,
> and keep sane data in the packets. It could be HTTP request, for example.

I'm glad you see the potential :)

> To achive this IXIA beating setup the TCP blaster would need a full
> understanding of what page pool is doing with the packets.
> Just saying "in arbitrary order" is a non starter. It diminishes
> this live prog_run into pktgen equivalent which is still useful,
> but lots of potential is lost.

I don't think a detailed knowledge of how the pages are recycled is
needed to implement a TCP stream? Even if you just rely on the packets
being recycled with a fixed period of 128 pages, how does that make your
XDP program simpler? You'll still have to update the packet header for
each packet, with state kept in a map; so why is it helpful to know when
a particular page comes back?

I'll try implementing a TCP stream mode in xdp_trafficgen just to make
sure I'm not missing something. But I believe that sending out a stream
of packets that looks like a coherent TCP stream should be simple
enough, at least. Dealing with the full handshake + CWND control loop
will be harder, though, and right now I think it'll require multiple
trips back to userspace.

>> Another question seeing as the merge window is imminent: How do you feel
>> about merging this before the merge window? I can resubmit before it
>> opens with the updated selftest and documentation, and we can deal with
>> any tweaks during the -rcs; or would you rather postpone the whole
>> thing until the next cycle?
> It's already too late for this merge window, but bpf-next is always open.
> Just like it was open for the last year. So please resubmit as soon as
> the tests are green and this discussion is over.

Ah, OK. I was under the impression that the cutoff date was tomorrow;
has that changed? But no worries, I'll spend my Sunday outside instead
of coding, then, and come back to this tomorrow :)


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