Testing environment

Every benchmark was executed on a computer with the following specs:

  • Intel Core i7-2670QM(2.20Hz)
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM (1333 MHz)
  • Linux mint 17 - 64bits, kernel 3.13.0
  • Compiler - gcc 4.8.2

Tested libraries

Benchmarks were executed using the following libraries:

If you want to reproduce the benchmarks, you can download the benchmark project on github.

Note that the libtins, libcrafter and libpcap test cases were compiled using C++11(using the -std=c++11 gcc switch).

Note: the scapy benchmarks look like it takes almost the same time as the impacket ones, but it actually doesn't. In fact, it takes so much time that the maximum Y-axis value had to be restricted. Otherwise the rest of the bars couldn't almost be seen. If you hover over each bar, you will see the actual times in seconds.

Benchmark #1 - Interpreting TCP

In this first benchmark, I generated a pcap file containing 500000 packets generated, using the following template:

EthernetII packet = EthernetII() / IP() / TCP() / RawPDU(std::string(742, 'A'));

That means the pcap file will contain 500000 packets, all of them will have an Ethernet II frame, an IP datagrams, a TCP segment, and a payload of 742 bytes at the end of the PDU chain.

The test case developed for every library basically opens the generated pcap file and interprets each of the packets. Here "interprets" means creating a the corresponding Ethernet object for each library, and all of the following PDUs.

The libpcap test is used as a base case; it simply reads the pcap file and counts the number of packets in it. No library that interprets packets should be faster than libpcap, since all of them use it implicitly to read the pcap file.

The benchmark results were the following:

Library Time taken(seconds) Packets per second
libpcap 0.141 3546099
libtins 0.312 1602564
dpkt 8.132 61485
libcrafter 12.209 40953
impacket 18.5 27027
scapy 187.082 2672

The first column indicates the library tested. The second column indicates the time taken for that library to parse the entire file, and the last one how many packets per second did the library interpret.

Benchmark #2 - Interpreting TCP + TCP Options

This benchmark is very similar to the one above, but in this one, I added TCP options to the TCP segment. This is the code that generates each packet:

EthernetII packet = EthernetII() / IP() / TCP() / RawPDU(std::string(742, 'A'));
// Search for the TCP PDU
TCP &tcp = packet.rfind_pdu<TCP>();
// Add several options
tcp.sack({ 1234, 5678, 91011 });
tcp.timestamp(1, 2);

The results of this benchmark were the following:

Library Time taken(seconds) Packets per second
libpcap 0.145 3448275
libtins 0.48 1041666
dpkt 8.508 58768
libcrafter 20.199 24753
impacket 44.491 11238
scapy 194.543 2570

Benchmark #3 - Interpreting DNS responses

This benchmark measures the speed at which each library can parse DNS packets. The input pcap file consists of 500000 copies of the following packet:

DNS packet

As you can see, there are three domain names present and two of them use compression. For this test case, the codes used not only parse the packet and construct the appropriate DNS object when required, but also iterate over both the question and answer records so as to force the libraries to parse the domain names included in them.

The results of this benchmark were the following:

Library Time taken(seconds) Packets per second
libpcap 0.036 13888888
libtins 0.377 1326259
libcrafter 13.524 36971
dpkt 23.319 21441
impacket 36.487 13703
scapy 374.637 1334


As you can see, libtins is quite faster at interpreting packets than the rest of the libraries tested. Moreover, it has very little overhead compared to libpcap, which does not perform any packet interpretation at all.

More benchmarks will be added soon.