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8.2 Collision Resolution and Loop Detection Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
8.2 Collision Resolution and Loop Detection

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8.2 Collision Resolution and Loop Detection

8.2 Collision Resolution and Loop Detection

Although the probability of SSRC identifier collision is low, all RTP implementations must be prepared to detect collisions and take the appropriate actions to resolve them. If a source discovers at any time that another source is using the same SSRC identifier as its own, it must send an RTCP BYE packet for the old identifier and choose another random one. If a receiver discovers that two other sources are colliding, it may keep the packets from one and discard the packets from the other when this can be detected by different source transport addresses or CNAMEs. The two sources are expected to resolve the collision so that the situation doesn't last.

Because the random identifiers are kept globally unique for each RTP session, they can also be used to detect loops that may be introduced by mixers or translators. A loop causes duplication of data and control information, either unmodified or possibly mixed, as in the following examples:

  • A translator may incorrectly forward a packet to the same multicast group from which it has received the packet, either directly or through a chain of translators. In that case, the same packet appears several times, originating from different network sources.

  • Two translators incorrectly set up in parallel, i.e., with the same multicast groups on both sides, would both forward packets from one multicast group to the other. Unidirectional translators would produce two copies; bidirectional translators would form a loop.

  • A mixer can close a loop by sending to the same transport destination upon which it receives packets, either directly or through another mixer or translator. In this case a source might show up both as an SSRC on a data packet and a CSRC in a mixed data packet.

A source may discover that its own packets are being looped, or that packets from another source are being looped (a third-party loop).

Both loops and collisions in the random selection of a source identifier result in packets arriving with the same SSRC identifier but a different source transport address, which may be that of the end system originating the packet or an intermediate system. Consequently, if a source changes its source transport address, it must also choose a new SSRC identifier to avoid being interpreted as a looped source. Loops or collisions occurring on the far side of a translator or mixer cannot be detected using the source transport address if all copies of the packets go through the translator or mixer, however collisions may still be detected when chunks from two RTCP SDES packets contain the same SSRC identifier but different CNAMEs.

To detect and resolve these conflicts, an RTP implementation must include an algorithm similar to the one described below. It ignores packets from a new source or loop that collide with an established source. It resolves collisions with the participant's own SSRC identifier by sending an RTCP BYE for the old identifier and choosing a new one. However, when the collision was induced by a loop of the participant's own packets, the algorithm will choose a new identifier only once and thereafter ignore packets from the looping source transport address. This is required to avoid a flood of BYE packets.

This algorithm depends upon the source transport address being the same for both RTP and RTCP packets from a source. The algorithm would require modifications to support applications that don't meet this constraint.

This algorithm requires keeping a table indexed by source identifiers and containing the source transport address from which the identifier was (first) received, along with other state for that source. Each SSRC or CSRC identifier received in a data or control packet is looked up in this table in order to process that data or control information. For control packets, each element with its own SSRC, for example an SDES chunk, requires a separate lookup. (The SSRC in a reception report block is an exception.) If the SSRC or CSRC is not found, a new entry is created. These table entries are removed when an RTCP BYE packet is received with the corresponding SSRC, or after no packets have arrived for a relatively long time (see Section 6.2.1).

In order to track loops of the participant's own data packets, it is also necessary to keep a separate list of source transport addresses (not identifiers) that have been found to be conflicting. Note that this should be a short list, usually empty. Each element in this list stores the source address plus the time when the most recent conflicting packet was received. An element may be removed from the list when no conflicting packet has arrived from that source for a time on the order of 10 RTCP report intervals (see Section 6.2).

For the algorithm as shown, it is assumed that the participant's own source identifier and state are included in the source identifier table. The algorithm could be restructured to first make a separate comparison against the participant's own source identifier.

       IF the SSRC or CSRC identifier is not found in the source
          identifier table:
       THEN create a new entry storing the source transport address
            and the SSRC or CSRC along with other state.
            CONTINUE with normal processing.

       (identifier is found in the table)

       IF the source transport address from the packet matches
          the one saved in the table entry for this identifier:
       THEN CONTINUE with normal processing.

       (an identifier collision or a loop is indicated)

       IF the source identifier is not the participant's own:
       THEN IF the source identifier is from an RTCP SDES chunk
               containing a CNAME item that differs from the CNAME
               in the table entry:
            THEN (optionally) count a third-party collision.
            ELSE (optionally) count a third-party loop.
            ABORT processing of data packet or control element.

       (a collision or loop of the participant's own data)

       IF the source transport address is found in the list of
         conflicting addresses:
       THEN IF the source identifier is not from an RTCP SDES chunk
               containing a CNAME item OR if that CNAME is the
               participant's own:
            THEN (optionally) count occurrence of own traffic looped.
                 mark current time in conflicting address list entry.
                 ABORT processing of data packet or control element.
       log occurrence of a collision.
       create a new entry in the conflicting address list and
       mark current time.
       send an RTCP BYE packet with the old SSRC identifier.
       choose a new identifier.
       create a new entry in the source identifier table with the
         old SSRC plus the source transport address from the packet
         being processed.
       CONTINUE with normal processing.

In this algorithm, packets from a newly conflicting source address will be ignored and packets from the original source will be kept. (If the original source was through a mixer and later the same source is received directly, the receiver may be well advised to switch unless other sources in the mix would be lost.) If no packets arrive from the original source for an extended period, the table entry will be timed out and the new source will be able to take over. This might occur if the original source detects the collision and moves to a new source identifier, but in the usual case an RTCP BYE packet will be received from the original source to delete the state without having to wait for a timeout.

When a new SSRC identifier is chosen due to a collision, the candidate identifier should first be looked up in the source identifier table to see if it was already in use by some other source. If so, another candidate should be generated and the process repeated.

A loop of data packets to a multicast destination can cause severe network flooding. All mixers and translators are required to implement a loop detection algorithm like the one here so that they can break loops. This should limit the excess traffic to no more than one duplicate copy of the original traffic, which may allow the session to continue so that the cause of the loop can be found and fixed. However, in extreme cases where a mixer or translator does not properly break the loop and high traffic levels result, it may be necessary for end systems to cease transmitting data or control packets entirely. This decision may depend upon the application. An error condition should be indicated as appropriate. Transmission might be attempted again periodically after a long, random time (on the order of minutes).


Next: 9. Security

Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
8.2 Collision Resolution and Loop Detection

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