High CPU on Cisco 4500 with MSFT NLB multicast cluster

Recently, we were alerted to higher than normal CPU on some of our core Cisco Catalyst 4507 switches running IOS 12.2. Using Cisco’s CPU troubleshooting doc, I was able to narrow down the source to the Cat4K Mgmt LoPri process. From there, issuing a “sh platform health” command found it was the K2CpuMan Review process meaning packets are being forward by the CPU. To find out which queue, we issued the “sh platform cpu packet statistics” command. That showed the L3 Fwd Queue was much higher than normal.

By creating a CPU span and monitoring the traffic with Network Monitor 3.3, we could see that all of the traffic destined for VIP’s in our 2008 NLB clusters was hitting the CPU. I checked the configuration to ensure it matched the Catalyst and MSFT NLB example on Cisco’s site which it did. We were using multicast NLB configuration as explained in the document. I setup a test NLB cluster to play with the settings to figure out why cluster bound packets were hitting the CPU. What I found was in relation to this section:

However, since the incoming packets have a unicast destination IP address and multicast destination MAC the Cisco device ignores this entry and process-switches each cluster-bound packets. In order to avoid this process switching, insert a static mac-address-table entry as given below in order to switch cluster-bound packets in hardware.

mac-address-table static 0300.5e11.1111 vlan 200 interface fa2/3 fa2/4

Note: For Cisco Catalyst 6000/6500 series switches, you must add the disable-snopping parameter. For example:

mac-address-table static 0300.5e11.1111 vlan 200 interface fa2/3 fa2/4 disable-snooping

The disable-snooping parameter is essential and applicable only for Cisco Catalyst 6000/6500 series switches. Without this statement, the behavior is not affected.

I double and triple checked that our switches had the satic mac entry for the CAM tables and they did. So, I reconfigured my test cluster from the ground up and found that cluster bound packets only hit the cpu AFTER this command was entered. By removing this command from my switches for our production, CPU dropped 30-40% instantly. This seems to contradict what Cisco has posted in their example.

There was no adverse affect or downtime from removing this command. Both cluster nodes are connected locally to the switch however, and this command may be necessary if a NLB node is connected to a down-level swtich. Furthermore, a “sh int stats” is showing that no packets are switched by the “processor.”

WLBS Causes Service Failure on Windows 2003 Server

You may receive a “One or more services failed to start” error message when booting a Windows 2003 Server installation which may or may not be accompanied by an Event ID 7000 in the system event viewer. This is caused by the WLBS service. To resolve this issue, modify the following registry key:


Change the value of Group from PNP_TDI to an emtpy string. More information regarding this regfix can be found on Microsoft’s KB: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/833375.