• BPF_MAP_TYPE_XSKMAP was introduced in kernel version 4.18

The BPF_MAP_TYPE_XSKMAP is used as a backend map for XDP BPF helper call bpf_redirect_map() and XDP_REDIRECT action, like ‘devmap’ and ‘cpumap’. This map type redirects raw XDP frames to AF_XDP sockets (XSKs), a new type of address family in the kernel that allows redirection of frames from a driver to user space without having to traverse the full network stack. An AF_XDP socket binds to a single netdev queue. A mapping of XSKs to queues is shown below:

|     xsk A      |     xsk B       |      xsk C     |<---+ User space
|    Queue 0     |     Queue 1     |     Queue 2    |    |  Kernel
+---------------------------------------------------+    |
|                  Netdev eth0                      |    |
+---------------------------------------------------+    |
|                            +=============+        |    |
|                            | key |  xsk  |        |    |
|  +---------+               +=============+        |    |
|  |         |               |  0  | xsk A |        |    |
|  |         |               +-------------+        |    |
|  |         |               |  1  | xsk B |        |    |
|  | BPF     |-- redirect -->+-------------+-------------+
|  | prog    |               |  2  | xsk C |        |
|  |         |               +-------------+        |
|  |         |                                      |
|  |         |                                      |
|  +---------+                                      |
|                                                   |


An AF_XDP socket that is bound to a certain <netdev/queue_id> will only accept XDP frames from that <netdev/queue_id>. If an XDP program tries to redirect from a <netdev/queue_id> other than what the socket is bound to, the frame will not be received on the socket.

Typically an XSKMAP is created per netdev. This map contains an array of XSK File Descriptors (FDs). The number of array elements is typically set or adjusted using the max_entries map parameter. For AF_XDP max_entries is equal to the number of queues supported by the netdev.


Both the map key and map value size must be 4 bytes.


Kernel BPF


long bpf_redirect_map(struct bpf_map *map, u32 key, u64 flags)

Redirect the packet to the endpoint referenced by map at index key. For BPF_MAP_TYPE_XSKMAP this map contains references to XSK FDs for sockets attached to a netdev’s queues.


If the map is empty at an index, the packet is dropped. This means that it is necessary to have an XDP program loaded with at least one XSK in the XSKMAP to be able to get any traffic to user space through the socket.


void *bpf_map_lookup_elem(struct bpf_map *map, const void *key)

XSK entry references of type struct xdp_sock * can be retrieved using the bpf_map_lookup_elem() helper.

User space


XSK entries can only be updated/deleted from user space and not from a BPF program. Trying to call these functions from a kernel BPF program will result in the program failing to load and a verifier warning.


int bpf_map_update_elem(int fd, const void *key, const void *value, __u64 flags)

XSK entries can be added or updated using the bpf_map_update_elem() helper. The key parameter is equal to the queue_id of the queue the XSK is attaching to. And the value parameter is the FD value of that socket.

Under the hood, the XSKMAP update function uses the XSK FD value to retrieve the associated struct xdp_sock instance.

The flags argument can be one of the following:

  • BPF_ANY: Create a new element or update an existing element.

  • BPF_NOEXIST: Create a new element only if it did not exist.

  • BPF_EXIST: Update an existing element.


int bpf_map_lookup_elem(int fd, const void *key, void *value)

Returns struct xdp_sock * or negative error in case of failure.


int bpf_map_delete_elem(int fd, const void *key)

XSK entries can be deleted using the bpf_map_delete_elem() helper. This helper will return 0 on success, or negative error in case of failure.


When libxdp deletes an XSK it also removes the associated socket entry from the XSKMAP.



The following code snippet shows how to declare a BPF_MAP_TYPE_XSKMAP called xsks_map and how to redirect packets to an XSK.

struct {
        __uint(type, BPF_MAP_TYPE_XSKMAP);
        __type(key, __u32);
        __type(value, __u32);
        __uint(max_entries, 64);
} xsks_map SEC(".maps");

int xsk_redir_prog(struct xdp_md *ctx)
        __u32 index = ctx->rx_queue_index;

        if (bpf_map_lookup_elem(&xsks_map, &index))
                return bpf_redirect_map(&xsks_map, index, 0);
        return XDP_PASS;

User space

The following code snippet shows how to update an XSKMAP with an XSK entry.

int update_xsks_map(struct bpf_map *xsks_map, int queue_id, int xsk_fd)
        int ret;

        ret = bpf_map_update_elem(bpf_map__fd(xsks_map), &queue_id, &xsk_fd, 0);
        if (ret < 0)
                fprintf(stderr, "Failed to update xsks_map: %s\n", strerror(errno));

        return ret;

For an example on how create AF_XDP sockets, please see the AF_XDP-example and AF_XDP-forwarding programs in the bpf-examples directory in the libxdp repository. For a detailed explanation of the AF_XDP interface please see:


The most comprehensive resource for using XSKMAPs and AF_XDP is libxdp.