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IP Routing Table

A routing table is present on all IP nodes. The routing table stores information about IP networks and how they can be reached (either directly or indirectly). Because all IP nodes perform some form of IP routing, routing tables are not exclusive to IP routers. Any node loading the TCP/IP protocol has a routing table. There are a series of default entries according to the configuration of the node and additional entries can be entered either manually through TCP/IP utilities or dynamically through interaction with routers.

When an IP packet is to be forwarded, the routing table is used to determine:

  1. The forwarding or next-hop IP address:
    For a direct delivery, the forwarding IP address is the destination IP address in the IP packet. For an indirect delivery, the forwarding IP address is the IP address of a router.

  2. The interface to be used for the forwarding:
    The interface identifies the physical or logical interface such as a network adapter that is used to forward the packet to either its destination or the next router.

IP Routing Table Entry Types

An entry in the IP routing table contains the following information in the order presented:

Network ID. The network ID or destination corresponding to the route. The network ID can be class-based, subnet, or supernet network ID, or an IP address for a host route.

Network Mask. The mask that is used to match a destination IP address to the network ID.

Next Hop. The IP address of the next hop.

Interface. An indication of which network interface is used to forward the IP packet.

Metric. A number used to indicate the cost of the route so the best route among possible multiple routes to the same destination can be selected. A common use of the metric is to indicate the number of hops (routers crossed) to the network ID.

Routing table entries can be used to store the following types of routes:

Directly Attached Network IDs. Routes for network IDs that are directly attached. For directly attached networks, the Next Hop field can be blank or contain the IP address of the interface on that network.

Remote Network IDs. Routes for network IDs that are not directly attached but are available across other routers. For remote networks, the Next Hop field is the IP address of a local router in between the forwarding node and the remote network.

Host Routes. A route to a specific IP address. Host routes allow routing to occur on a per-IP address basis. For host routes, the network ID is the IP address of the specified host and the network mask is 255.255.255.255.

Default Route. The default route is designed to be used when a more specific network ID or host route is not found. The default route network ID is 0.0.0.0 with the network mask of 0.0.0.0.

Route Determination Process

To determine which routing table entry is used for the forwarding decision, IP uses the following process:

  • For each entry in a routing table, perform a bit-wise logical AND between the destination IP address and the network mask. Compare the result with the network ID of the entry for a match.

  • The list of matching routes is compiled. The route that has the longest match (the route that matched the most amount of bits with the destination IP address) is chosen. The longest matching route is the most specific route to the destination IP address. If multiple entries with the longest match are found (multiple routes to the same network ID, for example), the router uses the lowest metric to select the best route. If multiple entries exist that are the longest match and the lowest metric, the router is free to choose which routing table entry to use.

The end result of the route determination process is the choice of a single route in the routing table. The route chosen yields a forwarding IP address (the next hop IP address) and an interface (the port). If the route determination process fails to find a route, IP declares a routing error. For the sending host, an IP routing error is internally indicated to the upper layer protocol such as TCP or UDP. For a router, an ICMP Destination Unreachable-Host Unreachable message is sent to the source host.

Example Routing Table for Windows 2000

Table 1.28 shows the default routing table for a Windows 2000–based host (not a router). The host has a single network adapter and has the IP address 157.55.27.90, subnet mask 255.255.240.0 (/20), and default gateway of 157.55.16.1.

Table 1.28 Windows   2000 Routing Table

Network Destination

Netmask

Gateway

Interface

Metric

Purpose

0.0.0.0

0.0.0.0

157.55.16.1

157.55.27.90

1

Default Route

127.0.0.0

255.0.0.0

127.0.0.1

127.0.0.1

1

Loopback Network

157.55.16.0

255.255.240.0

157.55.27.90

157.55.27.90

1

Directly Attached Network

157.55.27.90

255.255.255.255

127.0.0.1

127.0.0.1

1

Local Host

157.55.255.255

255.255.255.255

157.55.27.90

157.55.27.90

1

Network Broadcast

224.0.0.0

224.0.0.0

157.55.27.90

157.55.27.90

1

Multicast Address

255.255.255.255

255.255.255.255

157.55.27.90

157.55.27.90

1

Limited Broadcast

Default Route    The entry corresponding to the default gateway configuration is a network destination of 0.0.0.0 with a network mask (netmask) of 0.0.0.0. Any destination IP address joined with 0.0.0.0 by a logical AND results in 0.0.0.0. Therefore, for any IP address, the default route produces a match. If the default route is chosen because no better routes were found, the IP packet is forwarded to the IP address in the Gateway column using the interface corresponding to the IP address in the Interface column.

Loopback Network    The loopback network entry is designed to take any IP address of the form 127.x.y.z and forward it to the special loopback address of 127.0.0.1.

Directly Attached Network    The local network entry corresponds to the directly attached network. IP packets destined for the directly attached network are not forwarded to a router but sent directly to the destination. Note that the Gateway and Interface columns match the IP address of the node. This indicates that the packet is sent from the network adapter corresponding to the node's IP address.

Local Host    The local host entry is a host route (network mask of 255.255.255.255) corresponding to the IP address of the host. All IP datagrams to the IP address of the host are forwarded to the loopback address.

Network Broadcast    The network broadcast entry is a host route (network mask of 255.255.255.255) corresponding to the all-subnets directed broadcast address (all subnets of class B network ID 157.55.0.0). Packets addressed to the all-subnets directed broadcast are sent from the network adapter corresponding to the node's IP address.

Multicast Address    The multicast address, with its class D network mask, is used to route any multicast IP packets from the network adapter corresponding to the node's IP address.

Limited Broadcast    The limited broadcast address is a host route (network mask of 255.255.255.255). Packets addressed to the limited broadcast are sent from the network adapter corresponding to the node's IP address.

To view the IP routing table on a Windows 2000-based computer, type route print at a Windows 2000 command prompt.

When determining the forwarding or next-hop IP address from a route in the routing table:

  • If the gateway address is the same as the interface address, the forwarding IP address is set to the destination IP address of the IP packet.

  • If the gateway address is not the same as the interface address, the forwarding IP address is set to the gateway address.

For example, when traffic is sent to 157.55.16.48, the most specific route is the route for the directly attached network (157.55.16.0/20). The forwarding IP address is set to destination IP address (157.55.16.48) and the interface is the network adapter, which has been assigned the IP address 157.55.27.90.

When sending traffic to 157.20.0.79, the most specific route is the default route (0.0.0.0/0). The forwarding IP address is set to the gateway address (157.20.16.1) and the interface is the network adapter, which has been assigned the IP address 157.55.27.90.

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