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MPLS History


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The growth of the Internet has prompted the IT industry to look at mechanisms that improve the efficiency of packet forwarding. The bus architecture found within traditional routers fails to scale beyond a maximum load of about 1 Gb/s. Gigabit routers have been developed to achieve speeds far greater than this by replacing the bus architecture with a switch fabric to interconnect various components within the router. Here, the switching fabric is used as a very fast interconnect, and is essentially "hidden" from the outside world, with the IP processing functionality maintained within the interfaces to the fabric.

The term multilayer routing covers approaches to the integration of layer 3 datagram forwarding and layer 2 switching that go beyond the use of the techniques found within gigabit routing/switching. The approach uses label lookups to allow more efficient packet classification, and the potential to engineer the network and manage the impact of data flows. A number of vendor-specific approaches to multilayer routing appeared between 1994 and 1997, including

  • IP Switching,
  • Cell Switch Router (CSR),
  • ARIS,
  • Tag Switching, and

The fact that these approaches were proprietary, and produced incompatible solutions, led to the formation of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Multi Protocol Label Switching working group.





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