Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia Route Cache

Up: Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
Up: Requests For Comments
Up: RFC 1122
Up: 3.3.1 Routing Outbound Datagrams
Prev: Gateway Selection
Next: Dead Gateway Detection Route Cache Route Cache

Each route cache entry needs to include the following fields:

  1. Local IP address (for a multihomed host)

  2. Destination IP address

  3. Type(s)-of-Service

  4. Next-hop gateway IP address

Field (2) MAY be the full IP address of the destination host, or only the destination network number. Field (3), the TOS, SHOULD be included.

See Section for a discussion of the implications of multihoming for the lookup procedure in this cache.


Including the Type-of-Service field in the route cache and considering it in the host route algorithm will provide the necessary mechanism for the future when Type-of-Service routing is commonly used in the Internet. See Section

Each route cache entry defines the endpoints of an Internet path. Although the connecting path may change dynamically in an arbitrary way, the transmission characteristics of the path tend to remain approximately constant over a time period longer than a single typical host-host transport connection. Therefore, a route cache entry is a natural place to cache data on the properties of the path. Examples of such properties might be the maximum unfragmented datagram size (see Section 3.3.3), or the average round-trip delay measured by a transport protocol. This data will generally be both gathered and used by a higher layer protocol, e.g., by TCP, or by an application using UDP. Experiments are currently in progress on caching path properties in this manner.

There is no consensus on whether the route cache should be keyed on destination host addresses alone, or allow both host and network addresses. Those who favor the use of only host addresses argue that:

  1. As required in Section, Redirect messages will generally result in entries keyed on destination host addresses; the simplest and most general scheme would be to use host addresses always.

  2. The IP layer may not always know the address mask for a network address in a complex subnetted environment.

  3. The use of only host addresses allows the destination address to be used as a pure 32-bit number, which may allow the Internet architecture to be more easily extended in the future without any change to the hosts.

The opposing view is that allowing a mixture of destination hosts and networks in the route cache:

  1. Saves memory space.

  2. Leads to a simpler data structure, easily combining the cache with the tables of default and static routes (see below).

  3. Provides a more useful place to cache path properties, as discussed earlier.


The cache needs to be large enough to include entries for the maximum number of destination hosts that may be in use at one time.

A route cache entry may also include control information used to choose an entry for replacement. This might take the form of a "recently used" bit, a use count, or a last-used timestamp, for example. It is recommended that it include the time of last modification of the entry, for diagnostic purposes.

An implementation may wish to reduce the overhead of scanning the route cache for every datagram to be transmitted. This may be accomplished with a hash table to speed the lookup, or by giving a connection- oriented transport protocol a "hint" or temporary handle on the appropriate cache entry, to be passed to the IP layer with each subsequent datagram.

Although we have described the route cache, the lists of default gateways, and a table of static routes as conceptually distinct, in practice they may be combined into a single "routing table" data structure.

Next: Dead Gateway Detection

Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia Route Cache