27. PointToPoint NetDevice

This is the introduction to PointToPoint NetDevice chapter, to complement the PointToPoint model doxygen.

27.1. Overview of the PointToPoint model

The ns-3 point-to-point model is of a very simple point to point data link connecting exactly two PointToPointNetDevice devices over an PointToPointChannel. This can be viewed as equivalent to a full duplex RS-232 or RS-422 link with null modem and no handshaking.

Data is encapsulated in the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP – RFC 1661), however the Link Control Protocol (LCP) and associated state machine is not implemented. The PPP link is assumed to be established and authenticated at all times.

Data is not framed, therefore Address and Control fields will not be found. Since the data is not framed, there is no need to provide Flag Sequence and Control Escape octets, nor is a Frame Check Sequence appended. All that is required to implement non-framed PPP is to prepend the PPP protocol number for IP Version 4 which is the sixteen-bit number 0x21 (see http://www.iana.org/assignments/ppp-numbers).

The PointToPointNetDevice provides following Attributes:

  • Address: The ns3::Mac48Address of the device (if desired);

  • DataRate: The data rate (ns3::DataRate) of the device;

  • TxQueue: The transmit queue (ns3::Queue) used by the device;

  • InterframeGap: The optional ns3::Time to wait between “frames”;

  • Rx: A trace source for received packets;

  • Drop: A trace source for dropped packets.

The PointToPointNetDevice models a transmitter section that puts bits on a corresponding channel “wire.” The DataRate attribute specifies the number of bits per second that the device will simulate sending over the channel. In reality no bits are sent, but an event is scheduled for an elapsed time consistent with the number of bits in each packet and the specified DataRate. The implication here is that the receiving device models a receiver section that can receive any any data rate. Therefore there is no need, nor way to set a receive data rate in this model. By setting the DataRate on the transmitter of both devices connected to a given PointToPointChannel one can model a symmetric channel; or by setting different DataRates one can model an asymmetric channel (e.g., ADSL).

The PointToPointNetDevice supports the assignment of a “receive error model.” This is an ErrorModel object that is used to simulate data corruption on the link.

27.2. Point-to-Point Channel Model

The point to point net devices are connected via an PointToPointChannel. This channel models two wires transmitting bits at the data rate specified by the source net device. There is no overhead beyond the eight bits per byte of the packet sent. That is, we do not model Flag Sequences, Frame Check Sequences nor do we “escape” any data.

The PointToPointChannel provides following Attributes:

  • Delay: An ns3::Time specifying the propagation delay for the channel.

27.3. Using the PointToPointNetDevice

The PointToPoint net devices and channels are typically created and configured using the associated PointToPointHelper object. The various ns3 device helpers generally work in a similar way, and their use is seen in many of our example programs and is also covered in the ns-3 tutorial.

The conceptual model of interest is that of a bare computer “husk” into which you plug net devices. The bare computers are created using a NodeContainer helper. You just ask this helper to create as many computers (we call them Nodes) as you need on your network:

NodeContainer nodes;

Once you have your nodes, you need to instantiate a PointToPointHelper and set any attributes you may want to change. Note that since this is a point-to-point(as compared to a point-to-multipoint) there may only be two nodes with associated net devices connected by a PointToPointChannel.:

PointToPointHelper pointToPoint;
pointToPoint.SetDeviceAttribute("DataRate", StringValue("5Mbps"));
pointToPoint.SetChannelAttribute("Delay", StringValue("2ms"));

Once the attributes are set, all that remains is to create the devices and install them on the required nodes, and to connect the devices together using a PointToPoint channel. When we create the net devices, we add them to a container to allow you to use them in the future. This all takes just one line of code.:

NetDeviceContainer devices = pointToPoint.Install(nodes);

27.4. PointToPoint Tracing

Like all ns-3 devices, the Point-to-Point Model provides a number of trace sources. These trace sources can be hooked using your own custom trace code, or you can use our helper functions to arrange for tracing to be enabled on devices you specify.

27.4.1. Upper-Level (MAC) Hooks

From the point of view of tracing in the net device, there are several interesting points to insert trace hooks. A convention inherited from other simulators is that packets destined for transmission onto attached networks pass through a single “transmit queue” in the net device. We provide trace hooks at this point in packet flow, which corresponds (abstractly) only to a transition from the network to data link layer, and call them collectively the device MAC hooks.

When a packet is sent to the Point-to-Point net device for transmission it always passes through the transmit queue. The transmit queue in the PointToPointNetDevice inherits from Queue, and therefore inherits three trace sources:

  • An Enqueue operation source (see ns3::Queue::m_traceEnqueue);

  • A Dequeue operation source (see ns3::Queue::m_traceDequeue);

  • A Drop operation source (see ns3::Queue::m_traceDrop).

The upper-level (MAC) trace hooks for the PointToPointNetDevice are, in fact, exactly these three trace sources on the single transmit queue of the device.

The m_traceEnqueue event is triggered when a packet is placed on the transmit queue. This happens at the time that ns3::PointtoPointNetDevice::Send or ns3::PointToPointNetDevice::SendFrom is called by a higher layer to queue a packet for transmission. An Enqueue trace event firing should be interpreted as only indicating that a higher level protocol has sent a packet to the device.

The m_traceDequeue event is triggered when a packet is removed from the transmit queue. Dequeues from the transmit queue can happen in two situations: 1) If the underlying channel is idle when PointToPointNetDevice::Send is called, a packet is dequeued from the transmit queue and immediately transmitted; 2) a packet may be dequeued and immediately transmitted in an internal TransmitCompleteEvent that functions much like a transmit complete interrupt service routine. An Dequeue trace event firing may be viewed as indicating that the PointToPointNetDevice has begun transmitting a packet.

27.4.2. Lower-Level (PHY) Hooks

Similar to the upper level trace hooks, there are trace hooks available at the lower levels of the net device. We call these the PHY hooks. These events fire from the device methods that talk directly to the PointToPointChannel.

The trace source m_dropTrace is called to indicate a packet that is dropped by the device. This happens when a packet is discarded as corrupt due to a receive error model indication (see ns3::ErrorModel and the associated attribute “ReceiveErrorModel”).

The other low-level trace source fires on reception of a packet (see ns3::PointToPointNetDevice::m_rxTrace) from the PointToPointChannel.