An efficient IP address lookup algorithm based on a small balanced tree using entry reduction

Hyuntae Park, Hyejeong Hong, Sungho Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Due to a tremendous increase in internet traffic, backbone routers must have the capability to forward massive incoming packets at several gigabits per second. IP address lookup is one of the most challenging tasks for high-speed packet forwarding. Some high-end routers have been implemented with hardware parallelism using ternary content addressable memory (TCAM). However, TCAM is much more expensive in terms of circuit complexity as well as power consumption. Therefore, efficient algorithmic solutions are essentially required to be implemented using network processors as low cost solutions. Among the state-of-the-art algorithms for IP address lookup, a binary search based on a balanced tree is effective in providing a low-cost solution. In order to construct a balanced search tree, the prefixes with the nesting relationship should be converted into completely disjointed prefixes. A leaf-pushing technique is very useful to eliminate the nesting relationship among prefixes [V. Srinivasan, G. Varghese, Fast address lookups using controlled prefix expansion, ACM Transactions on Computer Systems 17 (1) (1999) 1-40]. However, it creates duplicate prefixes, thus expanding the search tree. This paper proposes an efficient IP address lookup algorithm based on a small balanced tree using entry reduction. The leaf-pushing technique is used for creating the completely disjointed entries. In the leaf-pushed prefixes, there are numerous pairs of adjacent prefixes with similarities in prefix strings and output ports. The number of entries can be significantly reduced by the use of a new entry reduction method which merges pairs with these similar prefixes. After sorting the reduced disjointed entries, a small balanced tree is constructed with a very small node size. Based on this small balanced tree, a native binary search can be effectively used in address lookup issue. In addition, we propose a new multi-way search algorithm to improve a binary search for IPv4 address lookup. As a result, the proposed algorithms offer excellent lookup performance along with reduced memory requirements. Besides, these provide good scalability for large amounts of routing data and for the address migration toward IPv6. Using both various IPv4 and IPv6 routing data, the performance evaluation results demonstrate that the proposed algorithms have better performance in terms of lookup speed, memory requirement and scalability for the growth of entries and IPv6, as compared with other algorithms based on a binary search.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-243
Number of pages13
JournalComputer Networks
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jan 12

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications


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