XDP for higher UDP performance


As of version 5.2.0, XDP support in Knot Resolver is considered experimental. The impact on overall throughput and performance may not always be beneficial.

Using XDP allows significant speedup of UDP packet processing in recent Linux kernels, especially with some network drivers that implement good support. The basic idea is that for selected packets the Linux networking stack is bypassed, and some drivers can even directly use the user-space buffers for reading and writing.



Bypassing the network stack has significant implications, such as bypassing the firewall and monitoring solutions. Make sure you’re familiar with the trade-offs before using this feature. Read more in Limitations.

  • Linux kernel 4.18+ (5.x+ is recommended for optimal performance) compiled with the CONFIG_XDP_SOCKETS=y option. XDP isn’t supported in other operating systems.

  • libknot compiled with XDP support

  • A multiqueue network card with native XDP support is highly recommended, otherwise the performance gain will be much lower and you may encounter issues due to XDP emulation. Successfully tested cards:

    • Intel series 700 (driver i40e), maximum number of queues per interface is 64.

    • Intel series 500 (driver ixgbe), maximum number of queues per interface is 64. The number of CPUs available has to be at most 64!

Set up

The server instances need additional Linux capabilities during startup. (Or you could start them as root.) Execute command

systemctl edit kresd@.service

And insert these lines:


You want the same number of kresd instances and network queues on your card; you can use ethtool -L before the services start. With XDP this is more important than with vanilla UDP, as we only support one instance per queue and unclaimed queues will fall back to vanilla UDP. Ideally you can set these numbers as high as the number of CPUs that you want kresd to use.

Modification of /etc/knot-resolver/kresd.conf may often be quite simple, for example:

net.listen('eth2', 53, { kind = 'xdp' })
net.listen('', 53, { kind = 'dns' })

Note that you want to also keep the vanilla DNS line to service TCP and possibly any fallback UDP (e.g. from unclaimed queues). XDP listening is in principle done on queues of whole network interfaces and the target addresses of incoming packets aren’t checked in any way, but you are still allowed to specify interface by an address (if it’s unambiguous at that moment):

net.listen('', 53, { kind = 'xdp' })
net.listen('', 53, { kind = 'dns' })

The default selection of queues is tailored for the usual naming convention: kresd@1.service, kresd@2.service, … but you can still specify them explicitly, e.g. the default is effectively the same as:

net.listen('eth2', 53, { kind = 'xdp', nic_queue = env.SYSTEMD_INSTANCE - 1 })


Some helpful commands:

ethtool -N <interface> rx-flow-hash udp4 sdfn
ethtool -N <interface> rx-flow-hash udp6 sdfn
ethtool -L <interface> combined <queue-number>
ethtool -G <interface> rx <ring-size> tx <ring-size>
renice -n 19 -p $(pgrep '^ksoftirqd/[0-9]*$')


  • VLAN segmentation is not supported.

  • MTU higher than 1792 bytes is not supported.

  • Multiple BPF filters per one network device are not supported.

  • Symmetrical routing is required (query source MAC/IP addresses and reply destination MAC/IP addresses are the same).

  • Systems with big-endian byte ordering require special recompilation of libknot.

  • IPv4 header and UDP checksums are not verified on received DNS messages.

  • DNS over XDP traffic is not visible to common system tools (e.g. firewall, tcpdump etc.).

  • BPF filter is not automatically unloaded from the network device. Manual filter unload:

    ip link set dev <interface> xdp off
  • Knot Resolver only supports using XDP towards clients currently (not towards upstreams).

  • When starting up an XDP socket you may get a harmless warning:

    libbpf: Kernel error message: XDP program already attached