Configuring TSN Qdiscs


The TSN control plane is implemented through the Linux* Traffic Control (TC) System. The transmission algorithms specified in the Forwarding and Queuing for Time-Sensitive Streams (FQTSS) chapter of IEEE 802.1Q-2018 are supported via TC Queuing Disciplines (qdiscs).

Linux currently provides the following qdiscs relating to TSN:

  • CBS qdisc: Implements the Credit-Based Shaper introduced by the IEEE 802.1Qav amendment.
  • TAPRIO qdisc: Implements the Enhancements for Scheduled Traffic introduced by IEEE 802.1Qbv.
  • ETF qdisc: While not an FQTSS feature, Linux also provides the Earliest TxTime First (ETF) qdisc which enables the LaunchTime feature present in some NICs, such as Intel(R) Ethernet Controller I210.

These qdiscs provide an offload option to leverage the hardware support (when supported by the NIC driver) as well as a software implementation that could be utilized as a fallback.

Note: these qdiscs enable a transmission algorithm and should be configured on transmitting end-stations (Talker systems). They are not required on the receiving end-stations (Listener systems).

Although this tutorial was tested with an Intel(R) Ethernet Controller I210, it can be used as a guide to configure any Network Interface Card (NIC). This tutorial will enable you to configure Linux Qdiscs and enable hardware offloading.

Configuring CBS Qdisc

The CBS algorithm shapes the transmission according to the bandwidth that has been reserved on a given outbound queue. This feature was introduced to IEEE 802.1Q to enable Audio/Video Bridging (AVB) on top of Local Area Networks (LANs). AVB systems rely on CBS to determine the amount of buffering required at the receiving stations. For details on how the CBS algorithm works refer to Annex L from IEEE 802.1Q-2018 spec.

Follow these steps to configure the CBS Qdisc:

Step 1: The CBS operates on a per-queue basis. To expose the hardware transmission queues use the MQPRIO qdisc. MQPRIO does more than just expose the hardware transmission queues, it also defines how Linux network priorities map into traffic classes and how traffic classes map into hardware queues. The command-line example below shows how to configure MQPRIO qdisc for Intel(R) Ethernet Controller I210 which has 4 transmission queues.

sudo tc qdisc add dev eth0 parent root handle 6666 mqprio \
        num_tc 3 \
        map 2 2 1 0 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 \
        queues 1@0 1@1 2@2 \
        hw 0

After running this command:

  • MQPRIO is installed as root qdisc oneth0 interface with handle ID 6666;
  • 3 different traffic classes are defined (from 0 to 2), where Linux priority 3 maps into traffic class 0, Linux priority 2 maps into traffic class 1, and all other Linux priorities map into traffic class 2;
  • Packets belonging to traffic class 0 go into 1 queue at offset 0 (i.e queue index 0 or Q0), packet from traffic class 1 go into 1 queue at offset 1 (i.e. queue index 1 or Q1), and packets from traffic class 2 go into 2 queues at offset 2 (i.e. queues index 2 and 3, or Q2 and Q3);
  • No hardware offload is enabled.

Note: By configuring MQPRIO, Stream Reservation (SR) Class A (Priority 3) is enqueued on Q0, the highest priority transmission queue in Intel(R) Ethernet Controller I210, while SR Class B (Priority 2) is enqueued on Q1, the second priority. All best-effort traffic goes into Q2 or Q3.

Step 2: With MQPRIO configured, now configure CBS qdisc. By default MPPRIO installs the fq_codel qdisc in each hardware queue exposed. This step involves replacing that qdisc by the CBS qdisc for Q0 and Q1.

CBS parameters come straight from the IEEE 802.1Q-2018 specification. They are the following:

  • idleSlope: rate credits are accumulated when queue isn’t transmitting;
  • sendSlope: rate credits are spent when queue is transmitting;
  • hiCredit: maximum amount of credits the queue is allowed to have;
  • loCredit: minimum amount of credits the queue is allowed to have;

Calculating those parameters can be tricky and error-prone so this tutorial provides a the helper script which takes as input TSN stream features, such as SR class, transport protocol, and payload size and outputs the CBS parameters.

For example, consider 2 AVB streams with the following features:

  • Stream A: SR class A, AVTP Compressed Video Format, H.264 profile High, 1920x1080, 30fps.
  • Stream B: SR class B, AVTP Audio Format, PCM 16-bit sample, 48 kHz, stereo, 12 frames perAVTPDU.

To calculate the CBS parameters for that set of AVB streams, run the helper script as follows: \
        --stream class=a,transport=avtp-cvf-h264,rate=8000,psize=1470 \
        --stream class=b,transport=avtp-aaf,rate=4000,psize=48

Which should produce the output:

1st priority queue: idleslope 98688 sendslope -901312 hicredit 153 locredit -1389
2nd priority queue: idleslope 3648 sendslope -996352 hicredit 12 locredit -113

With the CBS parameters, configuring the CBS qdisc is straightforward. Q0 is the first priority queue while Q1 is the second priority so the CBS qdiscs are installed as follows. The offload mode is enabled since the Intel(R) Ethernet Controller I210 supports that feature.

sudo tc qdisc replace dev eth0 parent 6666:1 cbs \
        idleslope 98688 sendslope -901312 hicredit 153 locredit -1389 \
        offload 1

sudo tc qdisc replace dev eth0 parent 6666:2 cbs \
        idleslope 3648 sendslope -996352 hicredit 12 locredit -113 \
        offload 1

For further information about MQPRIO and CBS qdiscs refer totc-mqprio(8) and tc-cbs(8) manpages.

Configuring the ETF Qdisc

Intel(R) Ethernet Controller I210 and other NICs provide the LaunchTime feature which enables frames to be transmitted at specific times. In Linux, this hardware feature is enabled through the SO_TXTIME sockopt and ETF qdisc. The SO_TXTIME socket option allows applications to configure the transmission time for each frame while the ETF qdiscs ensures frames coming from multiple sockets are sent to the hardware ordered by transmission time.

Like the CBS qdisc, the ETF qdisc operates on a per-queue basis so the MQPRIO configuration described in Configuring CBS Qdisc is required.

In the example below, the ETF qdisc is installed on Q0 and offload feature is enabled since the Intel(R) Ethernet Controller I210 driver supports the LaunchTime feature.

sudo tc qdisc add dev eth0 parent 6666:1 etf \
        clockid CLOCK_TAI \
        delta 500000 \

The clockid parameter specifies which clock is utilized to set the transmission timestamps from frames. Only CLOCK_TAI is supported. ETF requires the System clock to be in sync with the PTP Hardware Clock (PHC, refer to Synchronizing Time with Linux* PTP for more info). The delta parameter specifies the length of time before the transmission timestamp the ETF qdisc sends the frame to hardware. That value depends on multiple factors and can vary from system to system. This example uses 500us.

The value to use for the delta parameter can be estimated using cyclictest, run under similar conditions (same kind of expected system load, same kernel configuration, etc) as the application using ETF. After running cyclictest for a reasonable amount of time (1 hour for example), the maximum latency detected by cyclictest is a good aproximation of the minimum value that should be used as ETF delta. For example, running cyclictest like this:

sudo cyclictest --mlockall --smp --priority=80 --interval=200 --distance=0

Which should have output:

T: 0 (11795) P:80 I:200 C: 726864 Min:          1 Act:        2 Avg:        1 Max:           6
T: 1 (11796) P:80 I:200 C: 726861 Min:          1 Act:        1 Avg:        1 Max:          10
T: 2 (11797) P:80 I:200 C: 726858 Min:          1 Act:        1 Avg:        1 Max:          78
T: 3 (11798) P:80 I:200 C: 726855 Min:          1 Act:        1 Avg:        1 Max:          49
T: 4 (11799) P:80 I:200 C: 726852 Min:          1 Act:        1 Avg:        1 Max:          43
T: 5 (11800) P:80 I:200 C: 726831 Min:          1 Act:        1 Avg:        1 Max:          10
T: 6 (11801) P:80 I:200 C: 726846 Min:          1 Act:        2 Avg:        1 Max:          27
T: 7 (11802) P:80 I:200 C: 726843 Min:          1 Act:        1 Avg:        1 Max:           7
T: 8 (11803) P:80 I:200 C: 726840 Min:          1 Act:        2 Avg:        1 Max:          94
T: 9 (11804) P:80 I:200 C: 726838 Min:          1 Act:        1 Avg:        1 Max:          12
T:10 (11805) P:80 I:200 C: 726835 Min:          1 Act:        1 Avg:        1 Max:          14
T:11 (11806) P:80 I:200 C: 726832 Min:          1 Act:        1 Avg:        1 Max:          18

Would indicate that the minimum value of delta that can be used should be greater than 94us, and in real use cases, a safety margin should be added, making the minimum acceptable value of delta to be around 100us for this particular system and workload combination. Cyclictest is a good estimate because in nanosleep mode, it uses the same mechanisms as the ETF Qdisc to suspend execution until a given instant.For further information about ETF qdisc refer to tc-etf(8) manpage.

Configuring TAPRIO Qdisc

IEEE 802.1Q-2018 introduces the Enhancements for Scheduled Traffic (EST) feature (formerly known as Qbv) which allows transmission from each queue to be scheduled relative to a known timescale. In summary, transmission gates are associated with each queue; the state of the transmission gate determines whether queued frames can be selected for transmission (“Open” or “Closed” states). Each Port is associated with a Gate Control List (GCL) which contains an ordered list of gate operations. For further details on how this feature works, refer to section of IEEE 802.1Q-2018.

EST allows systems to be configured and participate in complex networks, similar to those envisioned by IEEE 802.1Qcc-2018. In this specification, a central entity with full knowledge of all the nodes, the traffic produced by those nodes, and their requirements, is able to produce a schedule for the whole network. This scenario is thought to enable primarily industrial use-cases, as many of the concepts are similar to other field buses.

The EST feature is supported in Linux via the TAPRIO qdisc. Similar to MQPRIO, the qdisc defines how Linux networking stack priorities map into traffic classes and how traffic classes map into hardware queues. Besides that, it also enables the user to configure the GCL for a given interface.

No NIC driver in kernel mainline currently supports the EST feature so TAPRIO hardware offload isn’t supported. However, EST can still be leveraged since TAPRIO provides a TxTime-assisted implementation (available since kernel 5.3) and a pure software implementation. In Tx-Time-assisted mode, the LaunchTime feature is used to schedule packet transmissions, emulating the EST feature. The NIC must support LaunchTime to be able to use that mode. If not, use the pure software implementation. This tutorial uses the Intel(R) Ethernet Controller I210 which supports LaunchTime, thereby setting TAPRIO up for using the TxTime-assisted mode.

For the sake of exercise, let’s say we have 3 traffic classes and we want to schedule traffic as follows:

  • The first transmission window has 300 us duration and only traffic class 0 is transmitted;
  • The second transmission window also has 300 us duration but now both traffic class 0 and 1 are transmitted;
  • Third and last window has 400 us duration and only traffic class 2 is transmitted;
  • The following schedule starts at 1,000,000,000 absolute time.

To achieve that, configure TAPRIO qdisc as shown below:

sudo tc qdisc replace dev eth0 parent root handle 100 taprio \
        num_tc 3 \
        map 2 2 1 0 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 \
        queues 1@0 1@0 1@0 \
        base-time 1000000000 \
        sched-entry S 01 300000 \
        sched-entry S 03 300000 \
        sched-entry S 04 400000 \
        flags 0x1 \
        txtime-delay 500000 \
        clockid CLOCK_TAI

The parameters num_tc, map and queues are identical to MQPRIO so refer to Configuring CBS Qdisc for details. The way TAPRIO is configured, only one hardware queue is enabled. The other parameters are described as follows. For further details on TAPRIO configuration, check tc-taprio(8) manpage.

  • base-time: specifies the start time of the schedule. If base-time is in the past, the schedule starts as soon as possible, aligning the start cycle specified by the GCL.
  • sched-entry: each of these specify one entry in the cycle, which is executed in order. Each entry has the format: <CMD> <GATE MASK> <INTERVAL>`. CMD defines the command that is executed for each interval, the commands defined are “S”: SetGates, which defines that the traffic classes defined in GATE MASK will be open for this interval “H”: Set-And-Hold-MAC, has the same meaning as SetGates, with the addition that preemption is disabled during this interval; “R”: Set-And-Release-MAC, has the same meaning as SetGates, with the addition that preemption is enabled during this interval; GATE MASK defines to which traffic classes the command is applied, specified as a bit mask, with bit 0 referring to traffic class 0 (TC 0) and bit N to traffic class N (TC N). INTERVAL defines the duration of each interval in nanoseconds.
  • flags: control which additional flags are sent to taprio, in this case, we are enabling TxTime-assisted mode.
  • txtime-delay: this argument is only used in TxTime-assisted mode, and allows to control the minimum time the transmission time of a packet is set in the future;
  • clockid: defines against which clock reference these timestamps should be considered.

When TxTime-assisted mode is enabled, install the ETF qdisc on the hardware queue exposed by TAPRIO so LaunchTime is enabled on NIC and packets are ordered by transmission time before they are delivered to the controller. The ETF qdisc can be installed as follows:

sudo tc qdisc replace dev eth0 parent 100:1 etf \
        clockid CLOCK_TAI \
        delta 500000 \
        offload \

Once both TAPRIO and ETF qdiscs are properly setup, the traffic generated by all applications running on top of eth0 interface are scheduled according to the GCL set configured.