IPv6 multicast forwarding in RPL-based wireless sensor networks

In wireless sensor deployments, network layer multicast can be used to improve the bandwidth and energy efficiency for a variety of applications, such as service discovery or network management. However, despite efforts to adopt IPv6 in networks of constrained devices, multicast has been somewhat overlooked. The Multicast Forwarding Using Trickle (Trickle Multicast) internet draft is one of the most noteworthy efforts. The specification of the IPv6 routing protocol for low power and lossy networks (RPL) also attempts to address the area but leaves many questions unanswered. In this paper we highlight our concerns about both these approaches. Subsequently, we present our alternative mechanism, called stateless multicast RPL forwarding algorithm (SMRF), which addresses the aforementioned drawbacks. Having extended the TCP/IP engine of the Contiki embedded operating system to support both trickle multicast (TM) and SMRF, we present an in-depth comparison, backed by simulated evaluation as well as by experiments conducted on a multi-hop hardware testbed. Results demonstrate that SMRF achieves significant delay and energy efficiency improvements at the cost of a small increase in packet loss. The outcome of our hardware experiments show that simulation results were realistic. Lastly, we evaluate both algorithms in terms of code size and memory requirements, highlighting SMRF's low implementation complexity. Both implementations have been made available to the community for adoption.