Kernel panics with 7.2 and ANS

Glen Turner glen.turner at
Tue Nov 6 18:51:00 CST 2001

Ard van Breemen wrote:
> Are there any other options then iANS to use etherchannel or at
> least load balancing between two nics?

> Yes, it is called bonding.

I'm a network engineer and using EtherChannel for NIC
load sharing to hosts sends a chill up my spine every time.

Cisco's EtherChannel uses a hash of the two MAC addresses
to determine which port to transmit the packet.  Let's
do that calculation for a router and a large host:

   hash(mac_a, mac_b, channels) = (lowbits(mac_a) XOR lowbits(mac_b)) AND channels
   lowbits(mac) = (mac AND 3)  # Lowest two bits of MAC address


   hash(router_mac, host_mac, 2) = *the same answer every time*

so no load sharing happens on router->host traffic in the topology

   +--------+      +--------+       +------+
   |        |      |        +-------+      |
   | Router |------| Switch |       | Host |
   |        |      |        +-------+      |
   +--------+      +--------+       +------+

Cisco do this because EtherChannel is designed for switch-to-
switch interconnection.  It is important not to reorder frames, as
this can kill TCP performance.  So all frames between pairs of
hosts are sent down the same link.  These links can have differing
latencies, as is usually the case between a main and backup path.
The variety of MAC addresses leads to load sharing.

The Linux bonding driver sends the packets in a strict round-robin.
So it load shares in the topology above (in the host->router direction).
If the topology or the switch software favours one link over another
then frame reordering can occur.  It is important to test that
this is not happening.  I'd suggest using adjacent switch ports that
do not cross power-of-two boundaries (eg: 1,2 but not 4,5).
Knowing the internal structure of the switch also helps (eg: if
it has a module servicing ports 1 to 4 then use ports 1,2 and
leave idle ports 3,4).

In summary
                          MAC address hash     Round robin
Host load sharing               No                 Yes
Packets in order always         Yes                No
Differing length links          Yes                No
Strict 50:50 load               No                 Yes
Any number of links         Power-of-2             Yes

Really you need the choice of hash or round-robin in
both the switch and host so that you can select the
correct algorithm for your topology.

 Glen Turner                                 Network Engineer
 (08) 8303 3936      Australian Academic and Research Network
 glen.turner at
 The revolution will not be televised, it will be digitised

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