RSVP messages are sent hop-by-hop between RSVP-capable routers as "raw" IP datagrams with protocol number 46. Raw IP datagrams are also intended to be used between an end system and the first/last hop router, although it is also possible to encapsulate RSVP messages as UDP datagrams for end-system communication, as described in Appendix C. UDP encapsulation is needed for systems that cannot do raw network I/O.
Path, PathTear, and ResvConf messages must be sent with the Router Alert IP option [RFC 2113] in their IP headers. This option may be used in the fast forwarding path of a high-speed router to detect datagrams that require special processing.
Upon the arrival of an RSVP message M that changes the state, a node must forward the state modification immediately. However, this must not trigger sending a message out the interface through which M arrived (which could happen if the implementation simply triggered an immediate refresh of all state for the session). This rule is necessary to prevent packet storms on broadcast LANs.
In this version of the spec, each RSVP message must occupy exactly one IP datagram. If it exceeds the MTU, such a datagram will be fragmented by IP and reassembled at the recipient node. This has several consequences:
Future versions of the protocol will provide solutions for these problems if they prove burdensome. The most likely direction will be to perform "semantic fragmentation", i.e., break the path or reservation state being transmitted into multiple self-contained messages, each of an acceptable size.
RSVP uses its periodic refresh mechanisms to recover from occasional packet losses. Under network overload, however, substantial losses of RSVP messages could cause a failure of resource reservations. To control the queuing delay and dropping of RSVP packets, routers should be configured to offer them a preferred class of service. If RSVP packets experience noticeable losses when crossing a congested non-RSVP cloud, a larger value can be used for the timeout factor K (see section 3.7).
Some multicast routing protocols provide for "multicast tunnels", which do IP encapsulation of multicast packets for transmission through routers that do not have multicast capability. A multicast tunnel looks like a logical outgoing interface that is mapped into some physical interface. A multicast routing protocol that supports tunnels will describe a route using a list of logical rather than physical interfaces. RSVP can operate across such multicast tunnels in the following manner:
Note that this only solves the routing problem posed by tunnels. The tunnel appears to RSVP as a non-RSVP cloud. To establish RSVP reservations within the tunnel, additional machinery will be required, to be defined in the future.