Performance Comparison of Two On-demand Routing Protocols for Mobile Ad Hoc Networks

Tinghuai Wang Department of Signals, Sensors and Systems Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm, Sweden

A number of different routing protocols proposed for use in ad hoc networks are based in whole or in part on what can be described as on-demand behavior. By on-demand behavior, we mean approaches based only on reaction to the offered traffic being handled by the routing protocol. We compare the performance of two prominent on-demand routing protocols for mobile ad hoc networks—Dynamic Source Routing (DSR) and Ad Hoc On-Demand Distance Vector Routing (AODV). In this report, the prior related works using varying network load, mobility and network size are reviewed and the special situation case of multiple sources nodes to single destination is proposed. Meanwhile, some improvements to reduce the rate of stale route removal process of AODV are given.

Ad hoc networks, wireless networks, mobile networks, routing protocols, simulation, performance evaluation.

Wireless mobile networks without fixed infrastructure consist of mobile hosts that move randomly in and out of each other communication range resulting in frequent connection breaks and topology varies stochastically. The rate of topology change, and thus the rate of routing protocol reaction, may be quite dramatic in some ad hoc networks.

Traditional table-driven routing protocols cannot perform in such environment resulting in development of on-demand routing protocols for ad hoc networks. By on-demand behavior, we mean approaches based only on reaction to the presence of data packets. The two prominent on-demand routing protocols are AODV [3][4] and DSR [2]. The routing mechanics of DSR and AODV differs though they share the on-demand behavior [5] in that they initiate routing activities only when data packets present. In particular, DSR uses source routing, but AODV uses a table-driven routing framework and destination sequence numbers. DSR does not rely on any timer-based activities, but AODV does to a certain extent. The rest of the paper is organized as follows. In the following section, we briefly review the DSR and AODV protocols. In Section III, the simulation environment is given. In Section IV, the simulation schemes of related works, as well as the constraint environment we proposed, are described. The simulation results of the above schemes are shown in Section V, and the results analysis is given in Section VI. Finally, the conclusions are drawn in Section VII.


This protocol has two mechanismsRoute Discovery and Route Maintenance.

The node also checks if the packet could be routed via itself to gain a shorter route. RREQ and RREP packets are also source routed. Such a node replies to the RREQ with a route reply (RREP) packet that is routed back to the original source. The data packets carry the source route in the packet header. This fact. Finally. DSR makes very aggressive use of source routing and route caching. or nodes that know a route to the destination. The key advantage of source routing is that intermediate nodes do not need to maintain up-to-date routing information in order to route the packets they forward. which can maintain multiple route cache entries per destination. To handle the case in which a route does not exist or the query or reply packets are lost. one entry per destination. No special mechanism to detect routing loops is needed. the neighbors rebroadcast the route query packet. At that time. The source node is notified using a route error (RERR) packet. The RREQ builds up the path traversed so far. unless it is the destination or it has a route to the destination in its route cache. Gratuitous Route Repair: A source node receiving a RERR packet piggybacks the RERR in the following RREQ. the source node broadcasts a route query packet to its neighbors. During a route discovery process. each node receives a RREQ. The route carried back by the RREP packet is cached at the source for future use. The Route Discovery process is used to dynamically determine a route when a node in the ad hoc network attempts to send a data packet to a destination for which it does not already know the route. A new route discovery process must be initiated by the source. 2. rebroadcasts it. since the packets themselves already contain all the routing decisions.Source routing is used [2] with each packet to be routed carrying in its header the complete. This helps clean up the caches of other nodes in the network that may have the failed link in one of the cached source routes. Several additional optimization rules to DSR [2] have also been proposed in [5]: 1. otherwise. The RREP routes itself back to the source by traversing this path backwards. Salvaging: If an intermediate node discovers that the next hop in the source route is unreachable. 3. It uses traditional routing tables. it can replace the source route in the data packets with a route from its own cache. This is a departure from DSR. B. If any of the neighbors has a route to the destination. if this route is still needed. These routes are stored in a route cache. Promiscuous Listening: When a node overhears a packet that is addressed to another node. some query packets reach the destination. eliminates the need for the periodic route advertisement and neighbor detection packets present in other protocols. ordered list of nodes through which the packet must pass. including the last known sequence number for that destination [3]. AODV This protocol performs Route Discovery using control messages route request (RREQ) and route reply (RREP) whenever node wishes to send packet to destination [3]. a reply packet is produced and transmitted tracing back the route traversed by the query packet. coupled with the on-demand nature of the protocol. the source node . with each cache entry storing one specific route from the source to a destination. The source removes any route using this link from its cache. if any link on a source route is broken. it adds the source route information into its own route caches. By flooding the network with route request (RREQ) packets. it replies to the query with a route reply packet.

For packets sent over multiple hops. the OPNET Modeler is used. Alternatively. mobility and network size [1][6] and new mobility models [8]. The 802. for example. A signal is sent to the routing layer when the MAC layer fails to deliver a unicast packet to the next hop. and varying network load. which retransmits the packet a limited number of times until this ACK is received. retransmission delays at the MAC. The simulation environments of work we reviewed are mainly the same ns-2-based ones [10]. SIMULATION ENVIRONMENT Several efforts are related to this work. but they are not preceded by an RTS/CTS and are not acknowledged by their recipients. RREP. The link layer of ns-2 implements the complete IEEE 802. RERR and data packets are all unicast packets with a specified neighbor as the MAC destination. Delay: It includes all possible delays caused by buffering during route discovery latency. the AODV specification briefly suggests that a node may use physical layer or link layer methods to detect link breakages to nodes that it considers neighbors [4]. Broadcast packets are sent only when virtual and physical carrier sense indicate that the medium is clear. All packets sent by the routing layer are queued at the interface queue until the MAC layer can transmit them. Both AODV and DSR maintain a send buffer of 64 packets [1]. Metrics Packet delivery ratio: The ratio between the number of packets originated by the “application layer” CBR sources and the number of packets received by the CBR sink at the final destination. When we propose the special situation case of multiple sources nodes to single destination. AODV normally requires that each node periodically transmit a HELLO message [3].rebroadcasts the query packet if no reply is received by the source after a time-out.. but no reply has arrived yet. Thoughput: It represents the combined “received” throughput at the destinations of the data sources. Failure to receive three consecutive HELLO messages from a neighbor is taken as an indication that the link to the neighbor in question is down. packets are dropped if they wait in the send buffer for more than 30 sec. are used to analyze the performance differentials of these two protocols. by failure to receive CTS after an RTS. or absence of an ACK following data transmission. Both protocols detect link breakage using feedback from the MAC layer. In order to maintain routes. queuing at the interface queue. It buffers all data packets waiting for a route. with a default rate of once per second. each transmission of the packet (each hop) counts as one transmission. Routing overhead/load: The total number of routing packets transmitted during the simulation.11 DCF uses Request-to-send (RTS) and Clear-to-Send (CTS) control packets [1] for “unicast” data transmission to a neighboring node. . This is indicated. propagation and transfer times. To prevent buffering of packets indefinitely. The RREQ packets are treated as broadcast packets in the MAC. III. Path optimality: The difference between the number of hops a packet took to reach its destination and the length of the shortest path that physically existed through the network when the packet was originated.11 standard [9] Medium Access Control (MAC) protocol Distributed Coordination Function (DCF) in order to accurately model the contention of nodes for the wireless medium. Each correctly received unicast packet is followed by an Acknowledgment (ACK) to the sender.

300. 20. SIMULATION SCHEMES SCHEME A. [6] Movement and Communication Models # Mobile Nodes Field Simulation Time Way Point Pause Time Movement Patterns Traffic Source Node Speed Packet Delivery Ratio Routing Overhead Path Optimality 50 1500 × 300 (m) 900 (s) Random 0. . [8] # Mobile Nodes Field Simulation Time Way Point Pause Time Movement and Communication Models Traffic Source 50 1000 × 1000 (m) 250 (s) Random 1 (s) Rates: A. Node Speed Metrics Simulation Environment Delay Routing Overhead Throughput ns2 The AODV model used hello messages for neighborhood detection in addition to the link layer feedback. instead only link layer feedback from 802. The DSR model did not use promiscuous listening. 5 packets/sec (CBR) B. 5-20 packets/sec (CBR) # Source nodes:15 Packet size: 64 Bytes New mobility metric [8] is introduced that measures mobility in terms of relative speeds of the nodes rather than absolute speeds and pause times. 60. 600 (s) 70 .IV. 10 for each pause time Rates: 4 packets/sec (CBR) # Source nodes:10.11 as in DSR is used in this AODV SCHEME B. 30. 120. 30 Packet size: 64 Bytes 20m/s and 1m/s Metrics Simulation Environment ns2 Standard AODV HELLO mechanism is eliminated.

20. 30. [1] Movement and Communication Models # Mobile Nodes Field Simulation Time Way Point Pause Time Traffic Source Varying mobility and Varying offered load number of sources 50 100 1500 × 300 (m) 2200 × 600 900 (s) 500 Random 0:100:900 (s) 0 #Source nodes: #Source nodes: 10.40 10. 40 Rates(CBR): slowly increased until 4 packets/sec for 10.20 the throughput saturates and 30 source nodes 3 packets/sec for 40 source nodes Packet size: 512 Bytes Metrics Simulation Environment Packet Delivery Ratio Delay Routing Load Throughput ns2 SCHEME D.SCHEME C. (Proposed) Varying mobility and number of sources # Mobile Nodes Field Simulation Time Way Point 50 1000 × 1000 (m) 900 (s) Single Destination #Source nodes: 49 Rates(CBR): 5 packets/sec Packet size: 128 Bytes Pause Time Active time out AODV Parameters (A and B) TTL Start TTL Increment TTL Threshold 3 (s) 1 (s) 2 (s) 7 (s) 5 (s) 10 (s) 4 (s) 5 (s) 15 (s) Movement and Communication Models Traffic Source Metrics Simulation Environment Total Packet Dropped OPNET .

SIMULATION RESULTS SCHEME A. with no statistically significant change in optimality of routing with respect to node mobility rate. DSR becomes more expensive than AODV. Both protocols exhibit the desirable property that the incremental cost of additional sources decreases as sources are added. AODV. since the protocol can use information learned from one route discovery to complete a subsequent route discovery. 2. DSR becomes more expensive than AODV. but also delivers more packets than DSR AODV has a more robust byte overhead than DSR at higher loads Delay Routing Overhead DSR was more effective at low loads with varied mobility Similar Decreases only slightly for AODV and DSR with increased mobility AODV better Throughput If routing overhead is measured in bytes and includes the bytes of the source route header that DSR places in each packet.V. on the other hand. 20 and 30 (With Node Speed of 20m/s) similar DSR better (By a factor of up to 5) 20 (With Node Speed of 1m/s) similar DSR better (By a factor of up to 10) DSR does very well regardless of pause time. If routing overhead is measured in bytes and includes the bytes of the source route header that DSR places in each packet. shows a significant difference with respect to pause time in the length of the routes they use relative to the shortest possible routes. (in [6]) #Source Nodes Metrics Packet Delivery Fractions Routing Overhead Path Optimality 10. (in [8]) Packet Rates: Metrics 5 packets/sec (CBR) Varied Mobility DSR better 5-20 packets/sec (CBR) Varied Load Both protocols exhibit higher delays with increased load. 1. AODV shows a higher delay. Additional Observations SCHEME B. .

. (Proposed) Metrics AODV Parameters Sets A B Total Much improved in AODV. and is still delay than DSR higher than DSR Throughput AODV outperforms DSR Much improved in AODV.. but much higher at high loads DSR again has a much higher delay compared to AODV except at a very low load. 3. indicating high cache hit ratio). AODV around 300 Kbits/sec and DSR around 150 Kbits/sec. however. Throughput 1.e. significantly more packets were dropped due to the interface queue being full.g. Routing Load D better D better by a factor of up to 5. SCHEME D.SCHEME C. and is higher than DSR . if routing load is presented in terms of packet counts DSR’s throughput saturates much earlier than AODV’s. and is Packet DSR better than AODV similar with DSR Dropped Delay AODV shows a higher average Much improved in AODV. AODV outperforms DSR except under low load (i. when the number of sources is low) for the application-oriented metrics (delivery fraction Observations and delay). AODV:700 Kbits/sec) Both AODV and DSR now saturate much earlier. The delays for both protocols increase with 40 sources with very low mobility 2. (DSR: 325 Kbits/sec. A much smaller number of packets were dropped in DSR for lack of route (e. (in [1]) Metrics Varying mobility and number of sources 10 and 20 similar 30 and 40 AODV outperform s DSR AODV better Varying offered load #Source Nodes 10 40 Packet Delivery Fractions DSR better Delay The average delay with DSR is much smaller at low load.

This fact. the criterion for picking up a route in the source is not based on any freshness criterion but the route length. as well as in the special situation we proposed. coupled with the characteristic of route caching. These routes can always be the stale routes. AODV sends route error of finding new route through source which will result in packet drops eventually resulting in degradation of packet delivery ratio. as shown in figure 1 and figure 2. (ii) possible pollution of caches in other nodes.The average total packets dropped in AODV using the original parameters under the special situation In AODV. RESULTS ANALYSIS Based on the simulation results from both the related works and our simulation under the special scenario. We categorize and discuss them in this section. the route caching is used aggressively in DSR [2]. AODV outperforms DSR for the application-oriented metrics such as delivery fraction (or throughput) in more “stressful” situations (i. sources and/or higher mobility). in which the alternative routes are limited due to fact that protocol keeps only the active routes and removes the stale ones. and with higher loads the extent of caching is deemed too large to benefit performance. when faced with multiple . when lack of alternative routes. In case of AODV [3]. the alternative routes are limited due to fact that protocol keeps only the active routes and removes the stale ones..VI. there are more alternative routes to the single destination in the special environment than AODV. Thus.e. Figure 1. DSR performed better in less stressful situations. This situation will result to localized congestion. The data packets carry the source route in the packet header in DSR. larger number of nodes. which causes two problems [1] – (i) consumption of additional network bandwidth and interface queue slots even though the packet is eventually dropped or delayed. When faced with multiple choices. when intermediate nodes are unable to send the data packets. A.The average total packets dropped in DSR under the special situation Figure 2. Packet delivery As shown in scheme A and C ([6]. As in this case. we can conclude several important characteristic differences in the two on-demand protocols. the congestion on routes to single destination triggers route recovery provisions of AODV. it turns to source node for route discovery. In the special situation case of multiple sources nodes to single destination. [1]). Additionally. That is. However. eliminates the need for the periodic route advertisement and neighbor detection packets present in other protocols.

DSR almost always has a lower routing load than AODV. it will broadcast a second RREQ with hop limit count increased [11] ). DSR does very well regardless of pause time. on the other hand. shown in figure 3. with AODV requiring about 5 times the overhead of DSR when there is constant node motion (pause time 0) [6]. So. In contrast. As a result. was dominated by RREP packets. By incrementing the value of parameters in AODV. if routing load is presented in terms of packet counts. the fresher route (based on destination sequence numbers) is always chosen. However DSR generates significantly less RREQ packets than AODV. Even though DSR generated much fewer routing packets overall. however. DSR limits the scope and overhead of RREQ packets by using caching from forwarded and promiscuously overheard packets and using non-propagating RREQ (the node will first broadcast a non-propagating RREQ with hop limit count set to 0. However. similar with DSR). Since each route discoveries of AODV typically propagates to every node in the network. do not use any additional MAC control packets and thus have much less overhead.The comparison of the average total packets dropped in AODV using the different parameters under the special situation B. It is possible to expire valid routes this way. Route Overhead The same phenomenon is observed both in scheme A and C (in [6] [1] and [12]) that DSR and AODV have almost identically shaped curves of routing overhead with the variation of pause time. As a result. primarily due to multiple replies from destination. for they share the similar basic mechanism of on-demand. It is because that RREPs and RERRs use the RTS/CTS/Data/ACK exchanges in the 802. As a result. DSR was found to generate about as much overall network load as AODV. The difference of routing overhead in terms of packet counts between them is mainly because of their different route discovery mechanisms. with no statistically significant change . if no RREP receives. on the other hand. C.choices for routes. this entry is expired. when the MAC overhead was factored in. Figure 3. Thus. less impressive (at most about 20%) [1]. Presenting routing loads in terms of bytes is. even in the scenarios where DSR was doing particularly better than AODV [1]. routing table entry is survived during a longer time. if unused beyond an expiry time [3]. Path Optimality As observed from scheme A in [6]. if a routing table entry is not used recently. especially the TTL field of the data packets.11 MAC layer we used. the routing load was dominated by RREQ packets (often as much as 90% of all routing pack. it generated more unicast routing packets which were expensive in the 802. which are more than AODV. we can find that the total packets dropped are dramatically improved (about 50%. in [1]). a large saving on RREQ of DSR differentiates the routing load of DSR from AODV [1] [6].11 MAC. RREQs. DSR’s routing load.

DSR always has a shorter average path length compared to AODV. CONCLUSION In this report. and takes up to 4 or more hops longer than optimal for some packets. which in turn causes a longer delay. i. higher mobility. throughput saturates too early with increasing offered load (in [1]). shows a significant difference with respect to pause time in the length of the routes they use relative to the shortest possible routes. The average total throughput in DSR. This automatically favors the least congested route instead of the shortest route. D. where the multiple sources nodes to single destination. Delay As concluded above. for the more alternative routes to a single destination. as the improved parameters. Figure 4. we first reviewed several . However. AODV and the improved AODV VII. for choosing routes in such a way that the data traffic can be more evenly distributed in the network [1]. though inverse when smaller number of nodes and lower load and/or mobility as well as the special scenario we proposed. DSR replies to all RREQs. C.e. additionally. With the growing load and more unicast routing packets. DSR again performs poorly relative to AODV. C (in [8]. observations from scheme B.. Meanwhile. Neither protocol has any mechanism for load balancing. AODV. in the scenario of 40 sources [1]. it uses routes that are significantly closer to the shortest possible routes than when nodes are moving. as discussed optimality of routing with respect to node mobility rate. as the destination replies only to the first arriving RREQ. In our special case. the congestion on routes to single destination makes AODV has a larger delay than DSR which has multiple paths to the single destination.C (in [8]. the AODV shows a much better throughput when compared with DSR. higher mobility. [1]) and D (in Figure 5) show that throughput decreases only slightly for AODV and DSR with increased mobility. the delays for both protocols increase which is due to a high level of network congestion and multiple access interferences at certain regions of the ad hoc network. When node mobility is very low. AODV has a somewhat better technique in this regard. on the other hand. When in the scenarios with more loads. making it difficult to determine the least congested route. AODV and the improved AODV Figure 5. Throughput Both the observations from scheme B. When in the special scenario we proposed. [1]) and D (in Figure 4) show that AODV has less delay than DSR in the scenarios with more load. The average total delay in DSR.

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