A 2-level TCAM architecture for ranges

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19 Citations (Scopus)


As the demand for high-quality Internet increases, emerging network applications are spurring the need for faster, feature-rich, and cost-effective routers. Multifield packet classification in routers has been a computation-intensive data path function for software implementation. Therefore, solutions for packet classification based on hardware design, such as Ternary Content Addressable Memory (TCAM), are necessary to sustain gigabit line processing rate. Traditionally, TCAMs have been designed for storing prefixes. However, multifield packet classification usually involves two fields of arbitrary ranges that are TCP/IP layer 4 source and destination ports. Storing ranges in TCAMs relies on decomposing each individual range into multiple prefixes, which leads to range-to-prefix blowout. To reduce the total number of prefixes needed to represent all ranges, this paper proposes a 2-level TCAM architecture and two range-to-prefix conversion schemes. In the first proposed scheme, designed for disjoint ranges, the maximum number of entries needed in TCAM is 2m - 1 for m disjoint ranges. In the second proposed scheme, designed for contiguous ranges, only m TCAM entries are needed. In a general case of n arbitrary ranges, all ranges can first be converted into disjoint ranges or contiguous ranges and then the proposed algorithms can be applied. As a result, only 4n - 3 TCAM entries are needed for the disjoint ranges and only 2n + 1 TCAM entries are needed for contiguous ranges. This paper also proposes insertion and deletion algorithms to accommodate incremental changes to the range sets. The experiments made show that the proposed range-to-prefix conversion schemes perform better than the existing schemes in terms of the number of required TCAM entries and execution time for range update operations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1614-1629
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computers
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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