Enable TSN in Kata Containers

Background

Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) is a set of standards developed by the IEEE 802.1 Working Group (WG) with the aim of guaranteeing determinism in delivering time-sensitive traffic with low and bounded latency, while allowing non-time-sensitive traffic to be carried through the same network.

As a cloud infrastructure software stack for the edge, TSN is a very important feature for StarlingX as the deterministic low latency is required by edge applications in industrial IOT, video delivery and other ultra-low latency use cases. Furthermore, because StarlingX is a cloud-native platform, TSN support in containers naturally becomes a requirement for StarlingX.

A challenge is that some TSN features are only available on Linux kernel version 4.19 or higher. StarlingX is built on top of CentOS. The StarlingX 3.0 release (currently available) is based on CentOS 7, which provides a Linux 3.10 kernel with some backported patches. (The StarlingX team plans to upgrade to CentOS 8 in a future release.)

Generic containers share the same kernel as the host. However, a Kata Container has its own kernel, which does not depend on the kernel of the host. Fortunately, StarlingX already supports Kata Containers on the master branch, and it will become an officially supported feature in the StarlingX 4.0 release. Therefore, TSN support in containers on StarlingX begins with Kata Containers.

Kata Containers is an open source project to build a secure container runtime with lightweight virtual machines that feel and perform like containers, but provide stronger workload isolation using hardware virtualization technology as a second layer of defense.

Build a Linux kernel with TSN support for Kata Containers

As of writing this article, the latest Kata release is Kata 1.11.0. This release includes a Linux 5.4.32 kernel image with Kata patches. Though the kernel version is high enough, TSN features are not fully enabled in the kernel build, so you must build a customized kernel image. The following steps describe how to build a customized kernel image for Kata.

  1. Get the packaging repository of Kata Containers:

    git clone https://github.com/kata-containers/packaging.git
    
  2. Prepare the build environment by executing this command in the directory packaging/kernel:

    ./build-kernel.sh -v 5.4.32 -f -d setup
    
  3. Prepare a kernel configuration file, stx.conf, with TSN-related options enabled as shown below. Put it in the directory ~/go/src/github.com/kata-containers/packaging/kernel/configs/fragments/x86_64:

    # qdisc for tsn
    CONFIG_NET_SCH_TAPRIO=y
    CONFIG_NET_SCH_ETF=y
    # I210 adapter driver
    CONFIG_IGB=y
    # ptp
    CONFIG_NET_PTP_CLASSIFY=y
    CONFIG_NETWORK_PHY_TIMESTAMPING=y
    CONFIG_PTP_1588_CLOCK=y
    # vlan
    CONFIG_VLAN_8021Q=y
    
  4. Re-run the setup command to update stx.conf to the desired configuration:

    ./build-kernel.sh -v 5.4.32 -f -d setup
    
  5. Build the kernel image:

    ./build-kernel.sh -v 5.4.32 -f -d build
    
  6. Install the built kernel images to the destination directory:

    sudo ./build-kernel.sh -v 5.4.32 -f -d install
    

When these commands are done, two built kernel images, vmlinux.container and vmlinuz.container, will be available in the directory /usr/share/kata-containers. Save the two files for later use.

Build a container image with TSN stack

Certain packages are required to build the TSN stack. For example, LinuxPTP is an implementation of the Precision Time Protocol (PTP) according to IEEE standard 1588 for Linux.

The example below shows the dockerfile used to build the container image. Ubuntu 20.04 was chosen as the base image for packages with newer versions. python3-dateutil, python3-numpy, and python3-matplotlib were installed for performance testing. The built container image was named kata_tsn_image.

From ubuntu:20.04
RUN apt-get update
RUN apt-get install -y iproute2 net-tools pciutils ethtool \
    linuxptp vlan libjansson4 python3-dateutil python3-numpy \
    python3-matplotlib

Set up an experimental TSN network

The experimental TSN network shown in Figure 1 was used to verify the TSN functionality in Kata Containers. The network was composed of a switch with TSN capability and four hosts.

../_images/stx_tsn_network_diagram.png

Figure 1: Experimental TSN network

  1. The TSN switch used a generic PC with a TSN switch card PCIe-0400-TSN inserted. Please refer to the PCIe-0400-TSN User Guide for detailed configuration options.

  2. Check the Kontron documentation about the kernel drivers that are provided. The TSN switch has to run the recommended OS (the OS for which there are Kontron drivers). The TSN switch must run a RT kernel too. The Kontron card has drivers for kernel 4.9.11 as of kontron-tsn-starter-kit-r6 driver package.

  3. After installing the required OS that matches the version of the drivers for the Kontron card you must install the packages recommended in the Kontron manual. After properly installing the drivers for the Kontron card there should be 7 new Ethernet interfaces. These network interfaces have to be configured to use network and not NetworkManager. Use the configuration files listed below. Besides the 7 interfaces belonging to the Kontron card, the main network interface should also be configured (listed here as eth0).

    sudo systemctl stop NetworkManager
    sudo systemctl disable NetworkManager
    sudo systemctl enable network
    # Add the following network scripts
    # /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-deipce0
    DEVICE=deipce0
    TYPE=bridge
    ONBOOT=yes
    BOOTPROTO=none
    ZONE=trusted
    IPV6INT="no"
    NM_CONTROLLED="no"
    # /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0
    DEVICE=eth0
    TYPE=Ethernet
    ONBOOT=yes
    BOOTPROTO=none
    ZONE=trusted
    IPV6INT="no"
    NM_CONTROLLED="no"
    # /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-SE01
    DEVICE=SE01
    TYPE=Ethernet
    ONBOOT=yes
    BOOTPROTO=none
    ZONE=trusted
    IPV6INT="no"
    NM_CONTROLLED="no"# /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-CE01
    # /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-CE02
    # /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-CE03
    # /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-CE04
    # /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-IE01
    # take CE01 as an example, other ports are similar
    # you need to add 4 more configs for ifcfg-CE02, ifcfg-CE03, ifcfg-CE04 and ifcfg-IE01
    DEVICE=CE01
    TYPE=Ethernet
    BRIDGE=deipce0
    ONBOOT=yes
    BOOTPROTO=none
    ZONE=trusted
    IPV6INT="no"
    NM_CONTROLLED="no"
    
  4. The hosts are four Intel Hades Canyon NUC which were equipped with two NICs each. One of the two NICs is the Intel Ethernet Controller I210 series which has TSN support.

    • Node 1 used the latest StarlingX built from the master branch which supports Kata containers. Node 1 was used as the data sender in the tests in this guide. When installing StarlingX it is recommended that ovs-dpdk is not enabled. Current Kata container (version 1.11.0) may have conflict with the vfio device created by dpdk.

    • Node 2, Node 3, and Node 4 were all installed with Ubuntu 18.04. Node 2 additionally installed LinuxPTP which was used as the data receiver. Node 3 and Node 4 were used to send/receive best-effort traffic to stress the TSN network.

Enable and verify TSN functionality

Preparation is complete and you can enable and verify the TSN functionality in Kata Containers. The whole process can be summarized in three steps:

  1. Perform time synchronization across the whole TSN network.

  2. Launch a Kata Container with a physical NIC passed in.

  3. Make necessary configuration changes to the Kata Container and the TSN switch to enable TSN functionality. After that, run tests to verify the TSN functionality.

Step 1. Perform time synchronization across the TSN network

Two programs from the LinuxPTP project, ptp4l and phc2sys, were used to do time synchronization on the TSN network.

../_images/time_sync_topology.png

Figure 2: Time synchronization topology

  1. Configure NTP servers on the TSN switch and on Node 1 (StarlingX) to synchronize their system clocks with the external clock. A usable NTP server is a server that you can access on the network you are in. Failure to setup a reachable NTP server can result in failure of testing TSN capability.

  2. Launch phc2sys on the TSN switch to synchronize its PTP clock from its system clock.

    # ptp1 is the ptp clock of the TSN interface. We could get this index
    # by "ethtool -T <tsn_interface>".
    sudo phc2sys -c /dev/ptp1 -s CLOCK_REALTIME -w -O 0 &
    

    Use syslog whenever you want to check the status of phc2sys or ptp4l.

  3. Launch ptp4l on both the TSN switch and Node 2 (Ubuntu) to synchronize their PTP clocks. The TSN switch’s PTP clock was set as the master clock by default.

    # For TSN switch
    sudo ptp4l -f /etc/ptp4l-switch.cfg &
    
    # For Ubuntu node
    sudo ptp4l -f /etc/ptp4l-node.cfg &
    

    The content of ptp4l-switch.cfg is shown below.

    # "gmCapable" is "1" for switch node, and "0" for all other nodes.
    [global]
    gmCapable               1
    priority1               128
    priority2               128
    logAnnounceInterval     1
    logSyncInterval         -3
    syncReceiptTimeout      3
    neighborPropDelayThresh 800
    min_neighbor_prop_delay -20000000
    assume_two_step         1
    path_trace_enabled      1
    follow_up_info          1
    
    # Generic MAC to broadcast L2 PTP to many NICs (ie. diff MACs)
    ptp_dst_mac             01:1B:19:00:00:00
    network_transport       L2
    delay_mechanism         P2P
    
    # Additional Config Parameters
    tx_timestamp_timeout    100
    summary_interval        0
    
    [CE01]
    transportSpecific 0x1
    
    [CE02]
    transportSpecific 0x1
    
    [CE03]
    transportSpecific 0x1
    
    [CE04]
    transportSpecific 0x1
    

    The content of ptp4l-node.cfg is shown below.

    # enp5s0 is the tsn interface in the node. Please update it if per your environment.
    [global]
    gmCapable               0
    priority1               128
    priority2               128
    logAnnounceInterval     1
    logSyncInterval         -3
    syncReceiptTimeout      3
    neighborPropDelayThresh 800
    min_neighbor_prop_delay -20000000
    assume_two_step         1
    path_trace_enabled      1
    follow_up_info          0
    
    # Generic MAC to broadcast L2 PTP to many NICs (ie. diff MACs)
    ptp_dst_mac             01:1B:19:00:00:00
    network_transport       L2
    delay_mechanism         P2P
    
    # Additional Config Parameters
    tx_timestamp_timeout    100
    summary_interval        0
    
    [enp5s0]
    transportSpecific 0x1
    
  4. Launch phc2sys on Node 2 (Ubuntu) to synchronize its system clock from its PTP clock.

    # enp5s0 is the tsn interface in the node.
    sudo phc2sys -s enp5s0 -c CLOCK_REALTIME -w -O 0 &
    

Time synchronization on the Kata Container is done later in this process.

You do not need to set up time synchronization on Node 3 and Node 4 since they were used to send/receive best-effort traffic in the experiment.

The Ubuntu node and the StarlingX container must be configured to have vlan interfaces. Before setting up anything else, you must run the commands below on the Ubuntu node (the StarlingX container is configured later on in Case 2):

# INTERFACE is the name of the I210 network card (the TSN network card)
INTERFACE=enp5s0
ip link add link $INTERFACE name ${INTERFACE}.3 type vlan id 3
ifconfig $INTERFACE up
ip link set ${INTERFACE}.3 up

Step 2. Launch a Kata Container with a physical NIC passed in

Before creating a Kata Container, copy the two kernel images vmlinux.container and vmlinuz.container to the directory /usr/share/kata-containers/ of Node 1 (StarlingX).

The Intel Ethernet Controller I210 on the host must be passed into a Kata Container by completing the following steps. More details can be found at How To Pass a Physical NIC Into a Kata Container.

  1. Configure the Kata Container:

    # Find the PCI address of the I210 NIC. Here the PCI address is
    # "0000:05:00.0" and the ID is "8086:157b" which are used in the
    # following steps.
    lspci -nn -D | grep Ethernet
    0000:00:1f.6 Ethernet controller [0200]: Intel Corporation Ethernet Connection (2) I219-LM [8086:15b7] (rev 31)
    0000:05:00.0 Ethernet controller [0200]: Intel Corporation I210 Gigabit Network Connection [8086:157b] (rev 03)
    
    export BDF="0000:05:00.0"
    
    readlink -e /sys/bus/pci/devices/$BDF/iommu_group
    /sys/kernel/iommu_groups/16
    
    echo $BDF | sudo tee /sys/bus/pci/devices/$BDF/driver/unbind
    
    sudo modprobe vfio-pci
    
    echo 8086 157b | sudo tee /sys/bus/pci/drivers/vfio-pci/new_id
    
    echo $BDF | sudo tee --append /sys/bus/pci/drivers/vfio-pci/bind
    
    ls -l /dev/vfio
    total 0
    crw------- 1 root root  241,  0 May 18 15:38 16
    crw-rw-rw- 1 root root  10, 196 May 18 15:37 vfio
    # There should be only one vfio device there, the device that has been passed through.
    
    # Edit the /usr/share/defaults/kata-containers/configuration.toml file to
    # set `hotplug_vfio_on_root_bus` to true.
    
  2. Configure Docker to support Kata Container:

    sudo mkdir -p /etc/systemd/system/docker.service.d/
    cat <<EOF | sudo tee /etc/systemd/system/docker.service.d/kata-containers.conf
    [Service]
    ExecStart=
    ExecStart=/usr/bin/dockerd -D --add-runtime kata-runtime=/usr/bin/kata-runtime
    EOF
    sudo systemctl daemon-reload
    sudo systemctl restart docker
    
  3. Create a Kata Container with the Intel Ethernet Controller I210 passed in. In this example, the name of the container image was kata_tsn_image.

    # 2 cpus are needed. 1 dedicated for send or receive data.
    sudo docker run -it -d --runtime=kata-runtime --cpus 2 --rm --device \
          /dev/vfio/16 -v /dev:/dev --cap-add SYS_NICE --cap-add SYS_TIME --cap-add NET_ADMIN \
          --name tsn kata_tsn_image /bin/bash
    

    When completed, the I210 NIC should be shown in the created container with the name eth1.

Step 3. Config and test TSN performance

The sample application sample-app-taprio was used in the test. Minor changes were made on the code to format the output to adapt to the two tools (nl-calc and nl-report) provided by the netlatency project and plot the result.

Three test cases were defined in the experiment. For all three test cases, sample-app-taprio was running in the Kata Container as the data sender and running on Node 2 as the data receiver. Common configurations for sample-app-taprio are listed here.

Table 1: Configuration of sample-app-taprio

Option

Value

Cycle Time

2ms

Packet Number

1 packet/cycle

VLAN ID

3

VLAN Priority code point

6

SO_PRIORITY

6

During the test, three performance indicators were measured.

Table 2: Performance indicators

Indicator

Meaning

Scheduled times

Time from the beginning of a cycle to when the NIC receives the packet

RT application latency

Time from the beginning of a cycle to when the send function is called

TSN Network jitter

Jitter of scheduled times

  • Case 1: TSN not enabled.

    sample-app-taprio sent a packet at the beginning of each cycle.

    Before sample-app-taprio was executed, time synchronization was performed on the Kata Container.

# Launch PTP programs, ptp4l and phc2sys, to synchronize the PTP clock and
# the system clock.
ptp4l -f /etc/ptp4l.cfg -m &
phc2sys -s eth1 -c CLOCK_REALTIME -w -O 0 -m &

# The content of ptp4l.cfg is shown below.
[global]
gmCapable               0
priority1               128
priority2               128
logAnnounceInterval     1
logSyncInterval         -3
syncReceiptTimeout      3
neighborPropDelayThresh 800
min_neighbor_prop_delay -20000000
assume_two_step         1
path_trace_enabled      1
follow_up_info          0
ptp_dst_mac             01:1B:19:00:00:00
network_transport       L2
delay_mechanism         P2P
tx_timestamp_timeout    100
summary_interval        0

[eth1]
transportSpecific 0x1
../_images/tsn_case1_noetf.png

Figure 3: Case 1 performance report

As shown in Figure 3, the RT application latency indicator ranged from 28.184us to 1259.387us, due to the following reasons:

  1. Standard kernels instead of real-time kernels were used for both StarlingX platform and the Kata Container. (Kata Containers supports the standard kernel.)

  2. sample-app-taprio was running on the Kata Container instead of the host.

Since TSN features were not enabled, there were no controls on Scheduled times, and its behavior depended on the RT application latency indicator and the behavior of the whole network. As shown in the figure, it ranged from 69.824us to 2487.357us, and the measured jitter reached 1ms.

  • Case 2: Enable two qdiscs on the Kata Container.

    TAPRIO and ETF were used. sample-app-taprio had additional configuration settings as shown in Table 3. Considering the large variance of RT application latency in Case 1, the transmitting time was set at 1250us.

Table 3: Case 2 configuration

Option

Value

Transmit Window

[1200us, 1300us]

Offset in Window

50us

Make necessary configuration changes on the Kata Container before executing sample-app-taprio.

# Change the number of multi-purpose channels
ethtool -L eth1 combined 4

# Delete existing qdiscs
tc qdisc del dev eth1 root

# Enable taprio qdisc, SO_PRIORITY 6 was mapped to traffic class 1.
tc -d qdisc replace dev eth1 parent root handle 100 taprio num_tc 4 \
      map 3 3 3 3 3 3 1 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 \
      queues 1@0 1@1 1@2 1@3 \
      base-time 1588076872000000000 \
      sched-entry S 01 200000 \
      sched-entry S 02 100000 \
      sched-entry S 04 100000 \
      sched-entry S 08 100000 \
      sched-entry S 01 200000 \
      sched-entry S 02 100000 \
      sched-entry S 04 100000 \
      sched-entry S 08 100000 \
      clockid CLOCK_TAI

# Enable etf qdisc on queue 1 which corresponds to traffic class 1
tc qdisc replace dev eth1 parent 100:2 etf clockid CLOCK_TAI \
      delta 5000000 offload

# Create vlan interface and set egress map.
ip link add link eth1 name eth1.3 type vlan id 3
vconfig set_egress_map eth1.3 6 6
ifconfig eth1 up
ip link set eth1.3 up

# Launch PTP programs, ptp4l and phc2sys, to synchronize the PTP clock and
# the system clock.
ptp4l -f /etc/ptp4l.cfg -m &
phc2sys -s eth1 -c CLOCK_REALTIME -w -O 0 -m &
../_images/tsn_case2_etf.png

Figure 4: Case 2 performance report

In this test, RT Application latency showed similar results to Case 1. This was expected, since there were no optimizations made. Scheduled times was well controlled (ranged from 1253.188us to 1253.343us), which indicates the TSN feature was functional. The measured TSN Network jitter also proves TSN was functional.

  • Case 3: Stress test.

    This scenario used the Case 2 settings and enabled 802.1qbv support on the TSN switch. Also, iperf3 was used on Node 3 and Node 4 for massive best-effort traffic to stress the overall network communication.

# iperf3 -c 192.168.1.2 -b 0 -u -l 1448 -t 86400
Connecting to host 192.168.1.2, port 5201
[  5] local 192.168.1.3 port 43752 connected to 192.168.1.2 port 5201
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bitrate         Total Datagrams
[  5]   0.00-1.00   sec   114 MBytes   956 Mbits/sec  82570
[  5]   1.00-2.00   sec   114 MBytes   956 Mbits/sec  82550
[  5]   2.00-3.00   sec   114 MBytes   957 Mbits/sec  82580
[  5]   3.00-4.00   sec   114 MBytes   956 Mbits/sec  82560
[  5]   4.00-5.00   sec   114 MBytes   956 Mbits/sec  82560
[  5]   5.00-6.00   sec   114 MBytes   956 Mbits/sec  82560
[  5]   6.00-7.00   sec   114 MBytes   957 Mbits/sec  82570
[  5]   7.00-8.00   sec   114 MBytes   956 Mbits/sec  82560
# iperf3 -s
-----------------------------------------------------------
Server listening on 5201
-----------------------------------------------------------
Accepted connection from 192.168.1.3, port 48494
[  5] local 192.168.1.2 port 5201 connected to 192.168.1.3 port 50593
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bitrate         Jitter    Lost/Total Datagrams
[  5]   0.00-1.00   sec  42.1 MBytes   353 Mbits/sec  0.055 ms  48060/78512 (61%)
[  5]   1.00-2.00   sec  44.2 MBytes   371 Mbits/sec  0.066 ms  50532/82531 (61%)
[  5]   2.00-3.00   sec  44.2 MBytes   371 Mbits/sec  0.063 ms  50593/82592 (61%)
[  5]   3.00-4.00   sec  44.2 MBytes   371 Mbits/sec  0.059 ms  50534/82534 (61%)
[  5]   4.00-5.00   sec  44.2 MBytes   371 Mbits/sec  0.060 ms  50619/82619 (61%)
[  5]   5.00-6.00   sec  44.2 MBytes   371 Mbits/sec  0.062 ms  50506/82504 (61%)
[  5]   6.00-7.00   sec  44.2 MBytes   371 Mbits/sec  0.059 ms  50563/82563 (61%)
../_images/tsn_case3_etf_heavytraffic.png

Figure 5: Case 3 performance report

The results were very similar to Case 2. The test demonstrated that even when a large amount of best-effort traffic was sent to the TSN network, the time-sensitive packets sent from sample-app-taprio were not impacted. The determinism was still guaranteed.

Summary

In this guide, we introduced how to enable TSN support in Kata Containers on the StarlingX platform. The experimental results demonstrated the capability of TSN in Kata Containers. Currently, the cycle time (2ms) is not low enough for some critical use cases. In the future, optimizations could be made to achieve better performance, such as replacing the standard kernel with a real-time kernel.