Internet Group Management Protocol Snooping (IGMP Snooping) is a multicast constraining mechanism that runs on Layer 2 devices to manage and control multicast groups.
By listening to and analyzing IGMP messages, a Layer 2 device running IGMP Snooping establishes mappings between ports and multicast MAC addresses and forwards multicast data based on these mappings.
As shown in Figure 1, when IGMP Snooping is not running on the switch, multicast packets are broadcast to all devices at Layer 2. When IGMP Snooping is running on the switch, multicast packets for known multicast groups are multicast to the receivers, rather than broadcast to all hosts, at Layer 2.
I. IGMP Snooping related ports
As shown in Figure 2, Router A connects to the multicast source, IGMP Snooping runs on Switch A and Switch B, Host A and Host C are receiver hosts (namely, multicast group members).
Ports involved in IGMP Snooping, as shown in Figure 2, are described as follows:
l Router port: A router port is a port on the Ethernet switch that leads switch towards the Layer 3 multicast device (DR or IGMP querier). In the figure, Ethernet 1/0 of Switch A and Ethernet 1/0 of Switch B are router ports. The switch registers all its local router ports (including static and dynamic router ports) in its router port list.
l Member port: A member port is a port on the Ethernet switch that leads switch towards multicast group members. In the figure, Ethernet 1/1 and Ethernet 1/2 of Switch A and Ethernet 1/1 of Switch B are member ports. The switch registers all the member ports (including static and dynamic member ports) on the local device in its IGMP Snooping forwarding table.
l Whenever mentioned in this document, a router port is a port on the switch that leads the switch to a Layer 3 multicast device, rather than a port on a router.
l An IGMP-snooping-enabled switch deems that all its ports on which IGMP general queries with the source address other than 0.0.0.0 or PIM hello messages are received to be router ports.
II. Port aging timers in IGMP Snooping and related messages and actions
Message before expiry
Action after expiry
Router port aging timer
For each router port, the switch sets a timer initialized to the aging time of the route port.
IGMP general query of which the source address is not 0.0.0.0 or PIM hello
The switch removes this port from its router port list.
Member port aging timer
When a port joins a multicast group, the switch sets a timer for the port, which is initialized to the member port aging time.
IGMP membership report
The switch removes this port from the multicast group forwarding table.
The port aging mechanism of IGMP Snooping works only for dynamic ports; a static port will never age out.
How IGMP Snooping Works
A switch running IGMP Snooping performs different actions when it receives different IGMP messages, as follows:
I. When receiving a general query
The IGMP querier periodically sends IGMP general queries to all hosts and routers (220.127.116.11) on the local subnet to find out whether active multicast group members exist on the subnet.
Upon receiving an IGMP general query, the switch forwards it through all ports in the VLAN except the receiving port and performs the following to the receiving port:
l If the receiving port is a router port existing in its router port list, the switch resets the aging timer of this router port.
l If the receiving port is not a router port existing in its router port list, the switch adds it into its router port list and sets an aging timer for this router port.
II. When receiving a membership report
A host sends an IGMP report to the multicast router in the following circumstances:
l Upon receiving an IGMP query, a multicast group member host responds with an IGMP report.
l When intended to join a multicast group, a host sends an IGMP report to the multicast router to announce that it is interested in the multicast information addressed to that group.
Upon receiving an IGMP report, the switch forwards it through all the router ports in the VLAN, resolves the address of the reported multicast group, and performs the following:
l If no forwarding table entry exists for the reported group, the switch creates an entry, adds the port as member port to the outgoing port list, and starts a member port aging timer for that port.
l If a forwarding table entry exists for the reported group, but the port is not included in the outgoing port list for that group, the switch adds the port as a member port to the outgoing port list, and starts a member port aging timer for that port.
l If a forwarding table entry exists for the reported group and the port is included in the outgoing port list, which means that this port is already a member port, the switch resets the member port aging timer for that port.
A switch does not forward an IGMP report through a non-router port. The reason is as follows: Due to the IGMP report suppression mechanism, if the switch forwards a report message through a member port, all the attached hosts listening to the reported multicast address will suppress their own reports upon hearing this report, and this will prevent the switch from knowing whether any hosts attached to that port are still active members of the reported multicast group.
III. When receiving a leave group message
When an IGMPv1 host leaves a multicast group, the host does not send an IGMP leave group message, so the switch cannot know immediately that the host has left the multicast group. However, as the host stops sending IGMP reports as soon as it leaves a multicast group, the switch deletes the forwarding entry for the member port corresponding to the host from the forwarding table when its aging timer expires.
When an IGMPv2 or IGMPv3 host leaves a multicast group, the host sends an IGMP leave group message to the multicast router.
When the switch hears a group-specific IGMP leave group message on a member port, it first checks whether a forwarding table entry for that group exists, and, if one exists, whether its outgoing port list contains that port.
l If the forwarding table entry does not exist or if its outgoing port list does not contain the port, the switch discards the IGMP leave group message instead of forwarding it to any port.
l If the forwarding table entry exists and its outgoing port list contains the port, the switch forwards the leave group message to all router ports in the VLAN. Because the switch does not know whether any other hosts attached to the port are still listening to that group address, the switch does not immediately removes the port from the outgoing port list of the forwarding table entry for that group; instead, it resets the member port aging timer for the port.
Upon receiving the IGMP leave group message from a host, the IGMP querier resolves from the message the address of the multicast group that the host just left and sends an IGMP group-specific query to that multicast group through the port that received the leave group message. Upon hearing the IGMP group-specific query, the switch forwards it through all its router ports in the VLAN and all member ports for that multicast group, and performs the following:
l If any IGMP report in response to the group-specific query is heard on a member port before its aging timer expires, this means that some host attached to the port is receiving or expecting to receive multicast data for that multicast group. The switch resets the aging timer of the member port.
l If no IGMP report in response to the group-specific query is heard on a member port before its aging timer expires, this means that no hosts attached to the port are still listening to that group address: the switch removes the port from the outgoing port list of the forwarding table entry for that multicast group when the aging timer expires.
With Layer 3 multicast routing enabled, an IGMP Snooping switch processes multicast protocol messages differently under different conditions, specifically as follows:
1) If only IGMP is enabled, or both IGMP and PIM are enabled on the switch, the switch handles multicast protocol messages in the normal way.
2) In only PIM is enabled on the switch:
l The switch broadcasts IGMP messages as unknown messages in the VLAN.
l Upon receiving a PIM hello message, the switch will maintain the corresponding router port.
3) When IGMP is disabled on the switch, or when IGMP forwarding entries are cleared (by using the reset igmp group command):
l If PIM is disabled, the switch clears all its Layer 2 multicast entries and router ports.
l If PIM is enabled, the switch clears only its Layer 2 multicast entries without deleting its router ports.
4) When PIM is disabled on the switch:
l If IGMP is disabled, the switch clears all its router ports.
l If IGMP is enabled, the switch maintains all its Layer 2 multicast entries and router ports.
IGMP Snooping is documented in:
l RFC 4541: Considerations for Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) and Multicast Listener Discovery (MLD) Snooping Switches