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RE: Comments On LAPS

Like most LAN people I'm not a great fan of byte stuffing however, some of
the points you make in 
items 2 and 3 seem very stretched and reduce credibility.
Frame loss effect of frame expansion - The maximum expansion of a frame is
to twice its length.
For a 1518 byte frame and a relatively bad bit error rate of 10e-9 and
assuming that errors are
uncorrelated, probability of loosing the frame due to a bit error is:
  1 - ((Pgoodbit)^bits ~ 0.0012%)
where Pgoodbit is the probability that a bit is not errored = 1 - BER
    and bits = 1518 * 8
doubling the number of bits changes this to 0.0024%. A factor of 2 is not
going to make a significant
difference to throughput and most of the time (unless someone is maliciously
creating expanding frames)
the factor is a lot less than 2.
What bothers me more is item 3. A bit hit in a frame will trash the frame
whether it creates a false 
delimiter, damages a delimiter or just changes data. This is true for all
the existing Ethernet codings. 
Once the error ends and a delimiter is received, the following frames will
be received successfully.
Since a hit on the length field of the protocol proposed for GFP by Nortel
and Lucent causes frame
sync to be lost and a bunch of frames can then be lost until sync has been
regained, it seems that
this might not be a topic you would want to introduce. It really isn't a
weakness for LAPS but a case
can be made for it as a weakness for GFP.
The point about service impacting effects does have validity at least where
the frame queuing decision
is made disconnected from the LAPS transmission time. If there is a device
with separate queues
for different service levels and it gives the LAPS a frame at a time, only
choosing the next frame
when the last one is being finished, this shouldn't produce much delay.
Worst case is for that is a 
lower service level frame delays a higher service level frame for twice the
maximum packet size because
of expansion. If, however, the queuing mechanism is disconnected from
knowledge of LAPS transmission
time, then the effect you are talking about does occur. If for instance, a
switch is feeding stream into
an Ethernet link which is then converted into a LAPS stream and the Sonet
data rate is less than twice
the Ethernet links rate, expansion can introduce as much delay as there is
FIFO provided and too much
expansion can overrun the FIFO causing packet loss.
What is our objective here?
My understanding is that the LAPS is almost sure to get approval at this
LAPS does have some weaknesses and if I was constrained to a byte stuffing
approach, I would have
done it a bit differently. 
It would be better to scramble then delimit because then the scheme would
not be subject to expansion
by unlucky decisions in applications or malicious packet content. Frankly,
the long tail of the distribution
doesn't bother me as long as packet loss due to it is sigificantly below
packet loss due to design bit
error rate. Any of these scrambled rather than block coded transmission
schemes has a distribution 
for run lengths of successive 1's or 0's which has a similar very long very
skinny tail. That distribution
can continue on to infinity but as long as the probablity of a run long
enough that the receiver makes
bit errors is low, it doesn't matter how long the tail is.
Also, I think they put the LSB of each Ethernet byte into the LSB of the
Sonet byte and Sonet sends
MSB first so they reduce the burst error protection of the CRC code - a
mistake that was also made
in 100BASE-T, so it isn't the end of the world - but flipping the byte as it
was put into Sonet would
have been preferable.
Are we trying to 
   generate comments about what should be changed to improve the LAPS spec;
   generate a justification that will cause the LAPS spec to fail to get
   propose criteria for when LAPS should be used versus GFP and 10GBASE-W;
   something else?
-----Original Message-----
From: David Martin [mailto:dwmartin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Friday, October 20, 2000 12:05 PM
To: stds-802-3-etholaps
Subject: Comments On LAPS


Some comments on LAPS (Draft X.86, April 2000) to get the ball rolling. 


LAPS is a modified version of PPP with the following similarities: 

	*       Uses the same HDLC-like frame 
*       Uses the same byte-stuffing / flag pattern delineation mechanism 
*       Supports only point-to-point Layer 2 topology (i.e. no address/label

Differences wrt PPP: 

	*       Uses a much-simpler version of Link Control Protocol (no
'Protocol' field, so no LCP frames; only 2 states instead of "16 events, 12
actions, and 11 LCP frame formats")

	*       Uses the 'Address' field to identify among IPv4, IPv6, etc.
(PPP fixes it as FF). 

The simplified LCP is laudable, but the similarities to PPP/HDLC/SDH mean
that LAPS shares the same drawbacks in throughput performance and the
service effects of flag/byte-stuffing delineation. The following elaborates
on these issues.


Packet based traffic generally requires received frames to be error-free.
Any frames lost due to bit errors within the frame payload or due to loss of
frame delineation will usually trigger a request for re-transmission at a
higher layer. The re-transmission requests will then generate more traffic.
This positive feedback mechanism makes frame loss performance an important
parameter for packet-based traffic in general.

Three aspects of throughput are discussed: deterministic versus statistical
behaviour, the effect of frame inflation on throughput, and the effect of
delineation performance on throughput.

1.      Deterministic vs Statistical Throughput 

All currently defined Ethernet physical layers provide a deterministic
throughput capacity. The throughput capacity is independent of the data
contents. This is an important attribute, since it permits predictable

For byte-oriented LAPS, frame delineation uses a simple flag mechanism: a
unique one-byte pattern is used to detect both beginning and end of each
frame. To ensure the flag pattern is unique, any occurrences of it must be
removed from the data prior to encapsulation. This is done by replacing each
occurrence of the flag pattern with a sequence of two bytes: a special
'escape' byte, followed by a slightly modified version of the flag pattern.
Because of its special meaning, the 'escape' character must also be
'escaped'. Consequently, the frame length of the payload is inflated in a
non-deterministic manner. Since two byte patterns are replaced by pairs of
bytes, the probability that a random data byte will be 'escaped' is p =

For a frame F bytes long prior to 'escaping', the average frame-length after
'escaping' will be:    F' = F + m bytes 

Where  F        is the un-escaped frame length in bytes 

	m       is the mean of the distribution of the number of bytes that
must be escaped in the original F-byte frame 

Assuming random data the number of bytes 'escaped' per F-byte frame follows
a binomial distribution with: 

probability of 'success':               p = 2/256 = 1/128 
probability of 'failure':               q = 1 - p = 127/128 
number of trials:                               n = F 
mean of the distribution is:    m (mu) = np = F*(1/128) bytes 
standard deviation is:          s (sigma) = sqrt (npq) = sqrt (F*127) / 128 

The tail of this distribution is extremely long: it reaches zero only after
a potential doubling of the frame size. 

Non-Random Data 

The assumption of random data could easily be invalidated by applications
that happen to produce the escaped octet values more frequently than a
random process would.  

Vulnerability to Emulation Attacks 

The inflation problem is aggravated by the possibility of emulation attacks.
Malicious users can generate frames with a high density of octet values
which must be 'escaped'. This definitely invalidates the assumption of
random data and skews the distribution towards the worst-case of a doubling
of frame size.  

Service-Impacting Effects of Non-Deterministic Inflation 

The non-deterministic inflation imposed by LAPS byte stuffing could make
tightly controlled frame delay variation (with acceptable absolute delays)
very difficult if not impossible to achieve. The quality of frame-based
real-time services, such as voice-over-IP, would suffer as a consequence.

2.      LAPS Frame Inflation: Effect on Throughput 

The throughput capacity of an error-free link is inversely related to the
overhead required by a given encapsulation mechanism. The inflation
introduced by LAPS reduces throughput in a non-deterministic manner, by
adding more overhead in an error-free environment.

Once errors are introduced, throughput is diminished in two ways: random
errors occurring within the frame; and frames lost through loss of

For frames on a link with given BER, the probability of errors within the
frame are a function of the frame length: the longer the frame the higher
the probability of an error occurring in the frame. As seen above, LAPS
inflation can significantly increase the frame length. This degrades the
throughput by providing a larger target for random errors to hit.

3.      LAPS Delineation Performance: Effect on Throughput 

The second factor affecting throughput on a link with non-zero BER is frame
delineation. It is also affected by choice of encapsulation. LAPS frames
rely on error-free matches to the flag pattern to indicate start and end of
frame for every frame. This leads to an unnecessarily high probability of
lost frames due to loss of delineation. This in turn contributes to a lower
absolute throughput than could be realized with a more robust delineation

More robust delineation mechanisms are possible that are designed to be
error-tolerant. This allows them to coast through random bit errors that
would defeat a flag delineation mechanism. This would reduce the number of
frames lost due to delineation failures.


Mapping approaches for Ethernet over SONET/SDH which do not use flag-based
delineation are preferable. 

David W. Martin & Tim Armstrong 
           Nortel Networks