A guide to the configuration options of Eclipse Cyclone DDS

This document attempts to provide background information that will help in adjusting the configuration of Eclipse Cyclone DDS when the default settings do not give the desired behavior. A full listing of all settings is out of scope for this document, but can be extracted from the sources.

DDSI Concepts

The DDSI standard is intimately related to the DDS 1.2 and 1.4 standards, with a clear correspondence between the entities in DDSI and those in DCPS. However, this correspondence is not one-to-one.

In this section we give a high-level description of the concepts of the DDSI specification, with hardly any reference to the specifics of the Eclipse Cyclone DDS implementation, which are addressed in subsequent sections. This division was chosen to aid readers interested in interoperability to understand where the specification ends and the Eclipse Cyclone DDS implementation begins.

Mapping of DCPS domains to DDSI domains

In DCPS, a domain is uniquely identified by a non-negative integer, the domain id. In the UDP/IP mapping, this domain id is mapped to port numbers to be used for communicating with the peer nodes — these port numbers are particularly important for the discovery protocol — and this mapping of domain ids to UDP/IP port numbers ensures that accidental cross-domain communication is impossible with the default mapping.

DDSI does not communicate the DCPS port number in the discovery protocol; it assumes that each domain id maps to a unique port number. While it is unusual to change the mapping, the specification requires this to be possible, and this means that two different DCPS domain ids can be mapped to a single DDSI domain.

Mapping of DCPS entities to DDSI entities

Each DCPS domain participant in a domain is mirrored in DDSI as a DDSI participant. These DDSI participants drive the discovery of participants, readers and writers in DDSI via the discovery protocols. By default, each DDSI participant has a unique address on the network in the form of its own UDP/IP socket with a unique port number.

Any data reader or data writer created by a DCPS domain participant is mirrored in DDSI as a DDSI reader or writer. In this translation, some of the structure of the DCPS domain is obscured because the standardized parts of DDSI have no knowledge of DCPS Subscribers and Publishers. Instead, each DDSI reader is the combination of the corresponding DCPS data reader and the DCPS subscriber it belongs to; similarly, each DDSI writer is a combination of the corresponding DCPS data writer and DCPS publisher. This corresponds to the way the standardized DCPS built-in topics describe the DCPS data readers and data writers, as there are no standardized built-in topics for describing the DCPS subscribers and publishers either. Implementations can (and do) offer additional built-in topics for describing these entities and include them in the discovery, but these are non-standard extensions.

In addition to the application-created readers and writers (referred to as endpoints), DDSI participants have a number of DDSI built-in endpoints used for discovery and liveliness checking/asserting. The most important ones are those absolutely required for discovery: readers and writers for the discovery data concerning DDSI participants, DDSI readers and DDSI writers. Some other ones exist as well, and a DDSI implementation can leave out some of these if it has no use for them. For example, if a participant has no writers, it doesn’t strictly need the DDSI built-in endpoints for describing writers, nor the DDSI built-in endpoint for learning of readers of other participants.

Reliable communication

Best-effort communication is simply a wrapper around UDP/IP: the packet(s) containing a sample are sent to the addresses at which the readers reside. No state is maintained on the writer. If a packet is lost, the reader will simply ignore the whatever samples were contained in the lost packet and continue with the next one.

When reliable communication is used, the writer does maintain a copy of the sample, in case a reader detects it has lost packets and requests a retransmission. These copies are stored in the writer history cache (or WHC) of the DDSI writer. The DDSI writer is required to periodically send Heartbeats to its readers to ensure that all readers will learn of the presence of new samples in the WHC even when packets get lost. It is allowed to suppress these periodic Heartbeats if there is all samples in the WHC have been acknowledged by all matched readers and the Eclipse Cyclone DDS exploits this freedom.

If a reader receives a Heartbeat and detects it did not receive all samples, it requests a retransmission by sending an AckNack message to the writer. The timing of this is somewhat adjustable and it is worth remarking that a roundtrip latency longer than the Heartbeat interval easily results in multiple retransmit requests for a single sample. In addition to requesting retransmission of some samples, a reader also uses the AckNack messages to inform the writer up to what sample it has received everything, and which ones it has not yet received. Whenever the writer indicates it requires a response to a Heartbeat the readers will send an AckNack message even when no samples are missing. In this case, it becomes a pure acknowledgement.

The combination of these behaviours in principle allows the writer to remove old samples from its WHC when it fills up too far, and allows readers to always receive all data. A complication exists in the case of unresponsive readers, readers that do not respond to a Heartbeat at all, or that for some reason fail to receive some samples despite resending it. The specification leaves the way these get treated unspecified. The default behaviour of Eclipse Cyclone DDS is to never consider readers unresponsive, but it can be configured to consider them so after a certain length of time has passed at which point the participant containing the reader is undiscovered.

Note that while this Heartbeat/AckNack mechanism is very straightforward, the specification actually allows suppressing heartbeats, merging of AckNacks and retransmissions, etc. The use of these techniques is required to allow for a performant DDSI implementation, whilst avoiding the need for sending redundant messages.

DDSI-specific transient-local behaviour

The above describes the essentials of the mechanism used for samples of the volatile durability kind, but the DCPS specification also provides transient-local, transient and persistent data. Of these, the DDSI specification at present only covers transient-local, and this is the only form of durable data available when interoperating across vendors.

In DDSI, transient-local data is implemented using the WHC that is normally used for reliable communication. For transient-local data, samples are retained even when all readers have acknowledged them. With the default history setting of KEEP_LAST with history_depth = 1, this means that late-joining readers can still obtain the latest sample for each existing instance.

Naturally, once the DCPS writer is deleted (or disappears for whatever reason), the DDSI writer disappears as well, and with it, its history. For this reason, transient data is generally much to be preferred over transient-local data. Eclipse Cyclone DDS has a facility for retrieving transient data from an suitably configured OpenSplice node, but does not yet include a native service for managing transient data.

Discovery of participants & endpoints

DDSI participants discover each other by means of the Simple Participant Discovery Protocol or SPDP for short. This protocol is based on periodically sending a message containing the specifics of the participant to a set of known addresses. By default, this is a standardised multicast address (; the port number is derived from the domain id) that all DDSI implementations listen to.

Particularly important in the SPDP message are the unicast and multicast addresses at which the participant can be reached. Typically, each participant has a unique unicast address, which in practice means all participants on a node all have a different UDP/IP port number in their unicast address. In a multicast-capable network, it doesn’t matter what the actual address (including port number) is, because all participants will learn them through these SPDP messages.

The protocol does allow for unicast-based discovery, which requires listing the addresses of machines where participants may be located and ensuring each participant uses one of a small set of port numbers. Because of this, some of the port numbers are derived not only from the domain id, but also from a participant index, which is a small non-negative integer, unique to a participant within a node. (Eclipse Cyclone DDS adds an indirection and uses at most one participant index for a domain for each process, regardless of how many DCPS participants are created by the process.)

Once two participants have discovered each other and both have matched the DDSI built-in endpoints their peer is advertising in the SPDP message, the Simple Endpoint Discovery Protocol or SEDP takes over, exchanging information on the DCPS data readers and data writers (and for Eclipse Cyclone DDS, also publishers, subscribers and topics in a manner compatible with OpenSplice) in the two participants.

The SEDP data is handled as reliable, transient-local data. Therefore, the SEDP writers send Heartbeats, the SEDP readers detect they have not yet received all samples and send AckNacks requesting retransmissions, the writer responds to these and eventually receives a pure acknowledgement informing it that the reader has now received the complete set.

Note that the discovery process necessarily creates a burst of traffic each time a participant is added to the system: all existing participants respond to the SPDP message, following which all start exchanging SEDP data.

Eclipse Cyclone DDS specifics

Discovery behaviour

Proxy participants and endpoints

Eclipse Cyclone DDS is what the DDSI specification calls a stateful implementation. Writers only send data to discovered readers and readers only accept data from discovered writers. (There is one exception: the writer may choose to multicast the data, and anyone listening will be able to receive it, if a reader has already discovered the writer but not vice-versa; it may accept the data even though the connection is not fully established yet. At present, not only can such asymmetrical discovery cause data to be delivered when it was perhaps not expected, it can also cause indefinite blocking if the situation persists for a long time.) Consequently, for each remote participant and reader or writer, Eclipse Cyclone DDS internally creates a proxy participant, proxy reader or proxy writer. In the discovery process, writers are matched with proxy readers, and readers are matched with proxy writers, based on the topic and type names and the QoS settings.

Proxies have the same natural hierarchy that ‘normal’ DDSI entities have: each proxy endpoint is owned by some proxy participant, and once the proxy participant is deleted, all of its proxy endpoints are deleted as well. Participants assert their liveliness periodically (called automatic liveliness in the DCPS specification and the only mode currently supported by Eclipse Cyclone DDS), and when nothing has been heard from a participant for the lease duration published by that participant in its SPDP message, the lease becomes expired triggering a clean-up.

Under normal circumstances, deleting endpoints simply triggers disposes and unregisters in SEDP protocol, and, similarly, deleting a participant also creates special messages that allow the peers to immediately reclaim resources instead of waiting for the lease to expire.

Sharing of discovery information

As Eclipse Cyclone DDS handles any number of participants in an integrated manner, the discovery protocol as sketched earlier is rather wasteful: there is no need for each individual participant in a Eclipse Cyclone DDS process to run the full discovery protocol for itself.

Instead of implementing the protocol as suggested by the standard, Eclipse Cyclone DDS shares all discovery activities amongst the participants, allowing one to add participants on a process with only a minimal impact on the system. It is even possible to have only a single DDSI participant in a process regardless of the number of DCPS participants created by the application code in that process, which then becomes the virtual owner of all the endpoints created in that one process. (See Combining multiple participants.) In this latter mode, there is no discovery penalty at all for having many participants, but evidently, any participant-based liveliness monitoring will be affected.

Because other implementations of the DDSI specification may be written on the assumption that all participants perform their own discovery, it is possible to simulate that with Eclipse Cyclone DDS. It will not actually perform the discovery for each participant independently, but it will generate the network traffic as if it does. These are controlled by the Internal/BuiltinEndpointSet and Internal/ConservativeBuiltinReaderStartup options. However, please note that at the time of writing, we are not aware of any DDSI implementation requiring the use of these settings.)

By sharing the discovery information across all participants in a single node, each new participant or endpoint is immediately aware of the existing peers and will immediately try to communicate with these peers. This may generate some redundant network traffic if these peers take a significant amount of time for discovering this new participant or endpoint.

Lingering writers

When an application deletes a reliable DCPS data writer, there is no guarantee that all its readers have already acknowledged the correct receipt of all samples. In such a case, Eclipse Cyclone DDS lets the writer (and the owning participant if necessary) linger in the system for some time, controlled by the Internal/WriterLingerDuration option. The writer is deleted when all samples have been acknowledged by all readers or the linger duration has elapsed, whichever comes first.

Note that the writer linger duration setting is currently not applied when Eclipse Cyclone DDS is requested to terminate.

Start-up mode

A similar issue exists when starting Eclipse Cyclone DDS: DDSI discovery takes time, and when data is written immediately after the first participant was created, it is likely that the discovery process hasn’t completed yet and some remote readers have not yet been discovered. This would cause the writers to throw away samples for lack of interest, even though matching readers already existed at the time of starting. For best-effort writers, this is perhaps surprising but still acceptable; for reliable writers, however, it would be very counter-intuitive.

Hence the existence of the so-called start-up mode, during which all volatile reliable writers are treated as-if they are transient-local writers. Transient-local data is meant to ensure samples are available to late-joining readers, the start-up mode uses this same mechanism to ensure late-discovered readers will also receive the data. This treatment of volatile data as-if it were transient-local happens internally and is invisible to the outside world, other than the availability of some samples that would not otherwise be available.

Once initial discovery has been completed, any new local writers can be matched locally against already existing readers, and consequently keeps any new samples published in a writer history cache because these existing readers have not acknowledged them yet. Hence why this mode is tied to the start-up of the DDSI stack, rather than to that of an individual writer.

Unfortunately it is impossible to detect with certainty when the initial discovery process has been completed and therefore the duration of this start-up mode is controlled by an option: General/StartupModeDuration.

While in general this start-up mode is beneficial, it is not always so. There are two downsides: the first is that during the start-up period, the writer history caches can grow significantly larger than one would normally expect; the second is that it does mean large amounts of historical data may be transferred to readers discovered relatively late in the process.

Writer history QoS and throttling

The DDSI specification heavily relies on the notion of a writer history cache (WHC) within which a sequence number uniquely identifies each sample. This WHC integrates two different indices on the samples published by a writer: one is on sequence number, used for retransmitting lost samples, and one is on key value and is used for retaining the current state of each instance in the WHC.

The index on key value allows dropping samples from the index on sequence number when the state of an instance is overwritten by a new sample. For transient-local, it conversely (also) allows retaining the current state of each instance even when all readers have acknowledged a sample.

The index on sequence number is required for retransmitting old data, and is therefore needed for all reliable writers. The index on key values is always needed for transient-local data, and will be default also be used for other writers using a history setting of KEEP_LAST. (The Internal/AggressiveKeepLastWhc setting controls this behaviour.) The advantage of an index on key value in such a case is that superseded samples can be dropped aggressively, instead of having to deliver them to all readers; the disadvantage is that it is somewhat more resource-intensive.

The WHC distinguishes between history to be retained for existing readers (controlled by the writer’s history QoS setting) and the history to be retained for late-joining readers for transient-local writers (controlled by the topic’s durability-service history QoS setting). This makes it possible to create a writer that never overwrites samples for live readers while maintaining only the most recent samples for late-joining readers. Moreover, it ensures that the data that is available for late-joining readers is the same for transient-local and for transient data.

Writer throttling is based on the WHC size using a simple controller. Once the WHC contains at least high bytes in unacknowledged samples, it stalls the writer until the number of bytes in unacknowledged samples drops below Internal/Watermarks/WhcLow. The value of high is dynamically adjusted between Internal/Watermarks/WhcLow and Internal/Watermarks/WhcHigh based on transmit pressure and receive retransmit requests. The initial value of high is Internal/Watermarks/WhcHighInit and the adaptive behavior can be disabled by setting Internal/Watermarks/WhcAdaptive to false.

While the adaptive behaviour generally handles a variety of fast and slow writers and readers quite well, the introduction of a very slow reader with small buffers in an existing network that is transmitting data at high rates can cause a sudden stop while the new reader tries to recover the large amount of data stored in the writer, before things can continue at a much lower rate.

Network and discovery configuration

Networking interfaces

Eclipse Cyclone DDS uses a single network interface, the preferred interface, for transmitting its multicast packets and advertises only the address corresponding to this interface in the DDSI discovery protocol.

To determine the default network interface, the eligible interfaces are ranked by quality and then selects the interface with the highest quality. If multiple interfaces are of the highest quality, it will select the first enumerated one. Eligible interfaces are those that are up and have the right kind of address family (IPv4 or IPv6). Priority is then determined as follows:

  • interfaces with a non-link-local address are preferred over those with a link-local one;

  • multicast-capable is preferred (see also Internal/AssumeMulticastCapable), or if none is available

  • non-multicast capable but neither point-to-point, or if none is available

  • point-to-point, or if none is available

  • loopback

If this procedure doesn’t select the desired interface automatically, it can be overridden by setting General/NetworkInterfaceAddress to either the name of the interface, the IP address of the host on the desired interface, or the network portion of the IP address of the host on the desired interface. An exact match on the address is always preferred and is the only option that allows selecting the desired one when multiple addresses are tied to a single interface.

The default address family is IPv4, setting General/UseIPv6 will change this to IPv6. Currently, Eclipse Cyclone DDS does not mix IPv4 and IPv6 addressing. Consequently, all DDSI participants in the network must use the same addressing mode. When interoperating, this behaviour is the same, i.e., it will look at either IPv4 or IPv6 addresses in the advertised address information in the SPDP and SEDP discovery protocols.

IPv6 link-local addresses are considered undesirable because they need to be published and received via the discovery mechanism, but there is in general no way to determine to which interface a received link-local address is related.

If IPv6 is requested and the preferred interface has a non-link-local address, Cyclone DDS will operate in a global addressing mode and will only consider discovered non-link-local addresses. In this mode, one can select any set of interface for listening to multicasts. Note that this behaviour is essentially identical to that when using IPv4, as IPv4 does not have the formal notion of address scopes that IPv6 has. If instead only a link-local address is available, Eclipse Cyclone DDS will run in a link-local addressing mode. In this mode it will accept any address in a discovery packet, assuming that a link-local address is valid on the preferred interface. To minimise the risk involved in this assumption, it only allows the preferred interface for listening to multicasts.

When a remote participant publishes multiple addresses in its SPDP message (or in SEDP messages, for that matter), it will select a single address to use for communicating with that participant. The address chosen is the first eligible one on the same network as the locally chosen interface, else one that is on a network corresponding to any of the other local interfaces, and finally simply the first one. Eligibility is determined in the same way as for network interfaces.


Eclipse Cyclone DDS allows configuring to what extent multicast (the regular, any-source multicast as well as source-specific multicast) is to be used:

  • whether to use multicast for data communications,

  • whether to use multicast for participant discovery,

  • on which interfaces to listen for multicasts.

It is advised to allow multicasting to be used. However, if there are restrictions on the use of multicasting, or if the network reliability is dramatically different for multicast than for unicast, it may be attractive to disable multicast for normal communications. In this case, setting General/AllowMulticast to false will force the use of unicast communications for everything.

If at all possible, it is strongly advised to leave multicast-based participant discovery enabled, because that avoids having to specify a list of nodes to contact, and it furthermore reduces the network load considerably. Setting General/AllowMulticast to spdp will allow participant discovery via multicast while disabling multicast for everything else.

To disable incoming multicasts, or to control from which interfaces multicasts are to be accepted, one can use the General/MulticastRecvInterfaceAddresses setting. This allows listening on no interface, the preferred, all or a specific set of interfaces.

TCP support

The DDSI protocol is really a protocol designed for a transport providing connectionless, unreliable datagrams. However, there are times where TCP is the only practical network transport available (for example, across a WAN). Because of this, Eclipse Cyclone DDS can use TCP instead of UDP.

The differences in the model of operation between DDSI and TCP are quite large: DDSI is based on the notion of peers, whereas TCP communication is based on the notion of a session that is initiated by a ‘client’ and accepted by a ‘server’, and so TCP requires knowledge of the servers to connect to before the DDSI discovery protocol can exchange that information. The configuration of this is done in the same manner as for unicast-based UDP discovery.

TCP reliability is defined in terms of these sessions, but DDSI reliability is defined in terms of DDSI discovery and liveliness management. It is therefore possible that a TCP connection is (forcibly) closed while the remote endpoint is still considered alive. Following a reconnect the samples lost when the TCP connection was closed can be recovered via the normal DDSI reliability. This also means that the Heartbeats and AckNacks still need to be sent over a TCP connection, and consequently that DDSI flow-control occurs on top of TCP flow-control.

Another point worth noting is that connection establishment takes a potentially long time, and that giving up on a transmission to a failed or no-longer reachable host can also take a long time. These long delays can be visible at the application level at present.

TLS support

The TCP mode can be used in conjunction with TLS to provide mutual authentication and encryption. When TLS is enabled, plain TCP connections are no longer accepted or initiated.

Raw Ethernet support

As an additional option, on Linux, Eclipse Cyclone DDS can use a raw Ethernet network interface to communicate without a configured IP stack.

Discovery configuration

Discovery addresses

The DDSI discovery protocols, SPDP for the domain participants and SEDP for their endpoints, usually operate well without any explicit configuration. Indeed, the SEDP protocol never requires any configuration.

The SPDP protocol periodically sends, for each domain participant, an SPDP sample to a set of addresses, which by default contains just the multicast address, which is standardised for IPv4 ( but not for IPv6 (it uses ff02::ffff: The actual address can be overridden using the Discovery/SPDPMulticastAddress setting, which requires a valid multicast address.

In addition (or as an alternative) to the multicast-based discovery, any number of unicast addresses can be configured as addresses to be contacted by specifying peers in the Discovery/Peers section. Each time an SPDP message is sent, it is sent to all of these addresses.

Default behaviour is to include each IP address several times in the set (for participant indices 0 through MaxAutoParticipantIndex, each time with a different UDP port number (corresponding to another participant index), allowing at least several applications to be present on these hosts.

Obviously, configuring a number of peers in this way causes a large burst of packets to be sent each time an SPDP message is sent out, and each local DDSI participant causes a burst of its own. Most of the participant indices will not actually be use, making this rather wasteful behaviour.

To avoid sending large numbers of packets to each host, differing only in port number, it is also possible to add a port number to the IP address, formatted as IP:PORT, but this requires manually calculating the port number. In practice it also requires fixing the participant index using Discovery/ParticipantIndex (see the description of ‘PI’ in Controlling port numbers) to ensure that the configured port number indeed corresponds to the port number the remote DDSI implementation is listening on, and therefore is really attractive only when it is known that there is but a single DDSI process on that node.

Asymmetrical discovery

On reception of an SPDP packet, the addresses advertised in the packet are added to the set of addresses to which SPDP packets are sent periodically, allowing asymmetrical discovery. In an extreme example, if SPDP multicasting is disabled entirely, host A has the address of host B in its peer list and host B has an empty peer list, then B will eventually discover A because of an SPDP message sent by A, at which point it adds A’s address to its own set and starts sending its own SPDP message to A, allowing A to discover B. This takes a bit longer than normal multicast based discovery, though, and risks writers being blocked by unresponsive readers.

Timing of SPDP packets

The interval with which the SPDP packets are transmitted is configurable as well, using the Discovery/SPDPInterval setting. A longer interval reduces the network load, but also increases the time discovery takes, especially in the face of temporary network disconnections.

Endpoint discovery

Although the SEDP protocol never requires any configuration, network partitioning does interact with it: so-called ‘ignored partitions’ can be used to instruct Eclipse Cyclone DDS to completely ignore certain DCPS topic and partition combinations, which will prevent data for these topic/partition combinations from being forwarded to and from the network.

Combining multiple participants

If a single process creates multiple participants, these are faithfully mirrored in DDSI participants and so a single process can appear as if it is a large system with many participants. The Internal/SquashParticipants option can be used to simulate the existence of only one participant, which owns all endpoints on that node. This reduces the background messages because far fewer liveliness assertions need to be sent, but there are some downsides.

Firstly, the liveliness monitoring features that are related to domain participants will be affected if multiple DCPS domain participants are combined into a single DDSI domain participant. For the ‘automatic’ liveliness setting, this is not an issue.

Secondly, this option makes it impossible for tooling to show the actual system topology.

Thirdly, the QoS of this sole participant is simply that of the first participant created in the process. In particular, no matter what other participants specify as their ‘user data’, it will not be visible on remote nodes.

There is an alternative that sits between squashing participants and normal operation, and that is setting Internal/BuiltinEndpointSet to minimal. In the default setting, each DDSI participant handled has its own writers for built-in topics and publishes discovery data on its own entities, but when set to ‘minimal’, only the first participant has these writers and publishes data on all entities. This is not fully compatible with other implementations as it means endpoint discovery data can be received for a participant that has not yet been discovered.

Controlling port numbers

The port numbers used by by Eclipse Cyclone DDS are determined as follows, where the first two items are given by the DDSI specification and the third is unique to Eclipse Cyclone DDS as a way of serving multiple participants by a single DDSI instance:

  • 2 ‘well-known’ multicast ports: B and B+1

  • 2 unicast ports at which only this instance is listening: B+PG*PI+10 and B+PG*PI+11

  • 1 unicast port per domain participant it serves, chosen by the kernel from the anonymous ports, i.e. >= 32768


  • B is Discovery/Ports/Base (7400) + Discovery/Ports/DomainGain (250) * Domain/Id

  • PG is Discovery/Ports/ParticipantGain (2)

  • PI is Discovery/ParticipantIndex

The default values, taken from the DDSI specification, are in parentheses. There are actually even more parameters, here simply turned into constants as there is absolutely no point in ever changing these values; however, they are configurable and the interested reader is referred to the DDSI 2.1 or 2.2 specification, section 9.6.1.

PI is the most interesting, as it relates to having multiple processes in the same domain on a single node. Its configured value is either auto, none or a non-negative integer. This setting matters:

  • When it is auto, Eclipse Cyclone DDS probes UDP port numbers on start-up, starting with PI = 0, incrementing it by one each time until it finds a pair of available port numbers, or it hits the limit. The maximum PI it will ever choose is Discovery/MaxAutoParticipantIndex as a way of limiting the cost of unicast discovery.

  • When it is none (which is the default) it simply ignores the ‘participant index’ altogether and asks the kernel to pick random ports (>= 32768). This eliminates the limit on the number of standalone deployments on a single machine and works just fine with multicast discovery while complying with all other parts of the specification for interoperability. However, it is incompatible with unicast discovery.

  • When it is a non-negative integer, it is simply the value of PI in the above calculations. If multiple processes on a single machine are needed, they will need unique values for PI, and so for standalone deployments this particular alternative is hardly useful.

Clearly, to fully control port numbers, setting Discovery/ParticipantIndex (= PI) to a hard-coded value is the only possibility. By fixing PI, the port numbers needed for unicast discovery are fixed as well. This allows listing peers as IP:PORT pairs, significantly reducing traffic, as explained in the preceding subsection.

The other non-fixed ports that are used are the per-domain participant ports, the third item in the list. These are used only because there exist some DDSI implementations that assume each domain participant advertises a unique port number as part of the discovery protocol, and hence that there is never any need for including an explicit destination participant id when intending to address a single domain participant by using its unicast locator. Eclipse Cyclone DDS never makes this assumption, instead opting to send a few bytes extra to ensure the contents of a message are all that is needed. With other implementations, you will need to check.

If all DDSI implementations in the network include full addressing information in the messages like Eclipse Cyclone DDS does, then the per-domain participant ports serve no purpose at all. The default false setting of Compatibility/ManySocketsMode disables the creation of these ports.

This setting can have a few other side benefits as well, as there will may be multiple DCPS participants using the same unicast locator. This improves the chances of a single unicast sufficing even when addressing a multiple participants.

Data path configuration

Retransmit merging

A remote reader can request retransmissions whenever it receives a Heartbeat and detects samples are missing. If a sample was lost on the network for many or all readers, the next heartbeat is likely to trigger a ‘storm’ of retransmission requests. Thus, the writer should attempt merging these requests into a multicast retransmission, to avoid retransmitting the same sample over & over again to many different readers. Similarly, while readers should try to avoid requesting retransmissions too often, in an interoperable system the writers should be robust against it.

In Eclipse Cyclone DDS, upon receiving a Heartbeat that indicates samples are missing, a reader will schedule the second and following retransmission requests to be sent after Internal/NackDelay or combine it with an already scheduled request if possible. Any samples received in between receipt of the Heartbeat and the sending of the AckNack will not need to be retransmitted.

Secondly, a writer attempts to combine retransmit requests in two different ways. The first is to change messages from unicast to multicast when another retransmit request arrives while the retransmit has not yet taken place. This is particularly effective when bandwidth limiting causes a backlog of samples to be retransmitted. The behaviour of the second can be configured using the Internal/RetransmitMerging setting. Based on this setting, a retransmit request for a sample is either honoured unconditionally, or it may be suppressed (or ‘merged’) if it comes in shortly after a multicasted retransmission of that very sample, on the assumption that the second reader will likely receive the retransmit, too. The Internal/RetransmitMergingPeriod controls the length of this time window.

Retransmit backlogs

Another issue is that a reader can request retransmission of many samples at once. When the writer simply queues all these samples for retransmission, it may well result in a huge backlog of samples to be retransmitted. As a result, the ones near the end of the queue may be delayed by so much that the reader issues another retransmit request.

Therefore, Eclipse Cyclone DDS limits the number of samples queued for retransmission and ignores (those parts of) retransmission requests that would cause the retransmit queue to contain too many samples or take too much time to process. There are two settings governing the size of these queues, and the limits are applied per timed-event thread. The first is Internal/MaxQueuedRexmitMessages, which limits the number of retransmit messages, the second Internal/MaxQueuedRexmitBytes which limits the number of bytes. The latter defaults to a setting based on the combination of the allowed transmit bandwidth and the Internal/NackDelay setting, as an approximation of the likely time until the next potential retransmit request from the reader.

Controlling fragmentation

Samples in DDS can be arbitrarily large, and will not always fit within a single datagram. DDSI has facilities to fragment samples so they can fit in UDP datagrams, and similarly IP has facilities to fragment UDP datagrams to into network packets. The DDSI specification states that one must not unnecessarily fragment at the DDSI level, but Eclipse Cyclone DDS simply provides a fully configurable behaviour.

If the serialised form of a sample is at least Internal/FragmentSize, it will be fragmented using the DDSI fragmentation. All but the last fragment will be exactly this size; the last one may be smaller.

Control messages, non-fragmented samples, and sample fragments are all subject to packing into datagrams before sending it out on the network, based on various attributes such as the destination address, to reduce the number of network packets. This packing allows datagram payloads of up to Internal/MaxMessageSize, overshooting this size if the set maximum is too small to contain what must be sent as a single unit. Note that in this case, there is a real problem anyway, and it no longer matters where the data is rejected, if it is rejected at all. UDP/IP header sizes are not taken into account in this maximum message size.

The IP layer then takes this UDP datagram, possibly fragmenting it into multiple packets to stay within the maximum size the underlying network supports. A trade-off to be made is that while DDSI fragments can be retransmitted individually, the processing overhead of DDSI fragmentation is larger than that of UDP fragmentation.

Receive processing

Receiving of data is split into multiple threads:

  • A single receive thread responsible for retrieving network packets and running the protocol state machine;

  • A delivery thread dedicated to processing DDSI built-in data: participant discovery, endpoint discovery and liveliness assertions;

  • One or more delivery threads dedicated to the handling of application data: deserialisation and delivery to the DCPS data reader caches.

The receive thread is responsible for retrieving all incoming network packets, running the protocol state machine, which involves scheduling of AckNack and Heartbeat messages and queueing of samples that must be retransmitted, and for defragmenting and ordering incoming samples.

Fragmented data first enters the defragmentation stage, which is per proxy writer. The number of samples that can be defragmented simultaneously is limited, for reliable data to Internal/DefragReliableMaxSamples and for unreliable data to Internal/DefragUnreliableMaxSamples.

Samples (defragmented if necessary) received out of sequence are buffered, primarily per proxy writer, but, secondarily, per reader catching up on historical (transient-local) data. The size of the first is limited to Internal/PrimaryReorderMaxSamples, the size of the second to Internal/SecondaryReorderMaxSamples.

In between the receive thread and the delivery threads sit queues, of which the maximum size is controlled by the Internal/DeliveryQueueMaxSamples setting. Generally there is no need for these queues to be very large (unless one has very small samples in very large messages), their primary function is to smooth out the processing when batches of samples become available at once, for example following a retransmission.

When any of these receive buffers hit their size limit and it concerns application data, the receive thread of will wait for the queue to shrink (a compromise that is the lesser evil within the constraints of various other choices). However, discovery data will never block the receive thread.

Minimising receive latency

In low-latency environments, a few microseconds can be gained by processing the application data directly in the receive thread, or synchronously with respect to the incoming network traffic, instead of queueing it for asynchronous processing by a delivery thread. This happens for data transmitted with the max_latency QoS setting at most a configurable value and the transport_priority QoS setting at least a configurable value. By default, these values are inf and the maximum transport priority, effectively enabling synchronous delivery for all data.

Maximum sample size

Eclipse Cyclone DDS provides a setting, Internal/MaxSampleSize, to control the maximum size of samples that the service is willing to process. The size is the size of the (CDR) serialised payload, and the limit holds both for built-in data and for application data. The (CDR) serialised payload is never larger than the in-memory representation of the data.

On the transmitting side, samples larger than MaxSampleSize are dropped with a warning in the. Eclipse Cyclone DDS behaves as if the sample never existed.

Similarly, on the receiving side, samples large than MaxSampleSize are dropped as early as possible, immediately following the reception of a sample or fragment of one, to prevent any resources from being claimed for longer than strictly necessary. Where the transmitting side completely ignores the sample, the receiving side pretends the sample has been correctly received and, at the acknowledges reception to the writer. This allows communication to continue.

When the receiving side drops a sample, readers will get a sample lost notification at the next sample that does get delivered to those readers. This condition means that again checking the info log is ultimately the only truly reliable way of determining whether samples have been dropped or not.

While dropping samples (or fragments thereof) as early as possible is beneficial from the point of view of reducing resource usage, it can make it hard to decide whether or not dropping a particular sample has been recorded in the log already. Under normal operational circumstances, only a single message will be recorded for each sample dropped, but it may on occasion report multiple events for the same sample.

Finally, it is technically allowed to set MaxSampleSize to very small sizes, even to the point that the discovery data can’t be communicated anymore. The dropping of the discovery data will be duly reported, but the usefulness of such a configuration seems doubtful.

Network partition configuration

Network partition configuration overview

Network partitions introduce alternative multicast addresses for data. In the DDSI discovery protocol, a reader can override the default address at which it is reachable, and this feature of the discovery protocol is used to advertise alternative multicast addresses. The DDSI writers in the network will (also) multicast to such an alternative multicast address when multicasting samples or control data.

The mapping of a DCPS data reader to a network partition is indirect: first the DCPS partitions and topic are matched against a table of partition mappings, partition/topic combinations to obtain the name of a network partition, then the network partition name is used to find a addressing information.. This makes it easier to map many different partition/topic combinations to the same multicast address without having to specify the actual multicast address many times over.

If no match is found, the default multicast address is used.

Matching rules

Matching of a DCPS partition/topic combination proceeds in the order in which the partition mappings are specified in the configuration. The first matching mapping is the one that will be used. The * and ? wildcards are available for the DCPS partition/topic combination in the partition mapping.

As mentioned earlier, Eclipse Cyclone DDS can be instructed to ignore all DCPS data readers and writers for certain DCPS partition/topic combinations through the use of IgnoredPartitions. The ignored partitions use the same matching rules as normal mappings, and take precedence over the normal mappings.

Multiple matching mappings

A single DCPS data reader can be associated with a set of partitions, and each partition/topic combination can potentially map to a different network partitions. In this case, the first matching network partition will be used. This does not affect what data the reader will receive; it only affects the addressing on the network.

Thread configuration

Eclipse Cyclone DDS creates a number of threads and each of these threads has a number of properties that can be controlled individually. The properties that can be controlled are:

  • stack size,

  • scheduling class, and

  • scheduling priority.

The threads are named and the attribute Threads/Thread[@name] is used to set the properties by thread name. Any subset of threads can be given special properties; anything not specified explicitly is left at the default value.

The following threads exist:

  • gc: garbage collector, which sleeps until garbage collection is requested for an entity, at which point it starts monitoring the state of Eclipse Cyclone DDS, pushing the entity through whatever state transitions are needed once it is safe to do so, ending with the freeing of the memory.

  • recv: accepts incoming network packets from all sockets/ports, performs all protocol processing, queues (nearly) all protocol messages sent in response for handling by the timed-event thread, queues for delivery or, in special cases, delivers it directly to the data readers.

  • dq.builtins: processes all discovery data coming in from the network.

  • lease: performs internal liveliness monitoring of Eclipse Cyclone DDS.

  • tev: timed-event handling, used for all kinds of things, such as: periodic transmission of participant discovery and liveliness messages, transmission of control messages for reliable writers and readers (except those that have their own timed-event thread), retransmitting of reliable data on request (except those that have their own timed-event thread), and handling of start-up mode to normal mode transition.

and, for each defined channel:

  • dq.channel-name: deserialisation and asynchronous delivery of all user data.

  • tev.channel-name: channel-specific ‘timed-event’ handling: transmission of control messages for reliable writers and readers and retransmission of data on request. Channel-specific threads exist only if the configuration includes an element for it or if an auxiliary bandwidth limit is set for the channel.

When no channels are explicitly defined, there is one channel named user.

Reporting and tracing

Eclipse Cyclone DDS can produce highly detailed traces of all traffic and internal activities. It enables individual categories of information, as well as having a simple verbosity level that enables fixed sets of categories.

The categorisation of tracing output is incomplete and hence most of the verbosity levels and categories are not of much use in the current release. This is an ongoing process and here we describe the target situation rather than the current situation.

All fatal and error messages are written both to the trace and to the cyclonedds-error.log file; similarly all ‘warning’ messages are written to the trace and the cyclonedds-info.log file.

The Tracing element has the following sub elements:

  • Verbosity: selects a tracing level by enabled a pre-defined set of categories. The list below gives the known tracing levels, and the categories they enable:

    • none

    • severe: ‘error’ and ‘fatal’

    • warning, info: severe + ‘warning’

    • config: info + ‘config’

    • fine: config + ‘discovery’

    • finer: fine + ‘traffic’, ‘timing’ and ‘info’

    • finest: fine + ‘trace’

  • EnableCategory: a comma-separated list of keywords, each keyword enabling individual categories. The following keywords are recognised:

    • fatal: all fatal errors, errors causing immediate termination

    • error: failures probably impacting correctness but not necessarily causing immediate termination.

    • warning: abnormal situations that will likely not impact correctness.

    • config: full dump of the configuration

    • info: general informational notices

    • discovery: all discovery activity

    • data: include data content of samples in traces

    • timing: periodic reporting of CPU loads per thread

    • traffic: periodic reporting of total outgoing data

    • tcp: connection and connection cache management for the TCP support

    • throttle: throttling events where the writer stalls because its WHC hit the high-water mark

    • topic: detailed information on topic interpretation (in particular topic keys)

    • plist: dumping of parameter lists encountered in discovery and inline QoS

    • radmin: receive buffer administration

    • whc: very detailed tracing of WHC content management

In addition, the keyword trace enables everything from fatal to throttle. The topic and plist ones are useful only for particular classes of discovery failures; and radmin and whc only help in analyzing the detailed behaviour of those two components and produce very large amounts of output.

  • OutputFile: the file to write the trace to

  • AppendToFile: boolean, set to true to append to the trace instead of replacing the file.

Currently, the useful verbosity settings are config, fine and finest.

Config writes the full configuration to the trace file as well as any warnings or errors, which can be a good way to verify everything is configured and behaving as expected.

Fine additionally includes full discovery information in the trace, but nothing related to application data or protocol activities. If a system has a stable topology, this will therefore typically result in a moderate size trace.

Finest provides a detailed trace of everything that occurs and is an indispensable source of information when analysing problems; however, it also requires a significant amount of time and results in huge log files.

Whether these logging levels are set using the verbosity level or by enabling the corresponding categories is immaterial.

Compatibility and conformance

Conformance modes

Eclipse Cyclone DDS operates in one of three modes: pedantic, strict and lax; the mode is configured using the Compatibility/StandardsConformance setting. The default is lax.

The first, pedantic mode, is of such limited utility that it will be removed.

The second mode, strict, attempts to follow the intent of the specification while staying close to the letter of it. Recent developments at the OMG have resolved these issues and this mode is no longer of any value.

The default mode, lax, attempts to work around (most of) the deviations of other implementations, and generally provides good interoperability without any further settings. In lax mode, the Eclipse Cyclone DDS not only accepts some invalid messages, it will even transmit them. The consequences for interoperability of not doing this are simply too severe. It should be noted that if one configures two Eclipse Cyclone DDS processes with different compliancy modes, the one in the stricter mode will complain about messages sent by the one in the less strict mode.

Compatibility issues with RTI

In lax mode, there should be no major issues with most topic types when working across a network, but within a single host there used to be an issue with the way RTI DDS uses, or attempts to use, its shared memory transport to communicate with peers even when they clearly advertises only UDP/IP addresses. The result is an inability to reliably establish bidirectional communication between the two.

Disposing data may also cause problems, as RTI DDS leaves out the serialised key value and instead expects the reader to rely on an embedded hash of the key value. In the strict modes, Eclipse Cyclone DDS requires a proper key value to be supplied; in the relaxed mode, it is willing to accept key hash, provided it is of a form that contains the key values in an unmangled form.

If an RTI DDS data writer disposes an instance with a key of which the serialised representation may be larger than 16 bytes, this problem is likely to occur. In practice, the most likely cause is using a key as string, either unbounded, or with a maximum length larger than 11 bytes. See the DDSI specification for details.

In strict mode, there is interoperation with RTI DDS, but at the cost of incredibly high CPU and network load, caused by a Heartbeats and AckNacks going back-and-forth between a reliable RTI DDS data writer and a reliable Eclipse Cyclone DDS data reader. The problem is that once Eclipse Cyclone DDS informs the RTI writer that it has received all data (using a valid AckNack message), the RTI writer immediately publishes a message listing the range of available sequence numbers and requesting an acknowledgement, which becomes an endless loop.

There is furthermore also a difference of interpretation of the meaning of the ‘autodispose_unregistered_instances’ QoS on the writer. Eclipse Cyclone DDS aligns with OpenSplice.