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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Transport Layer - Layer 4 of OSI model

The Transport Layer of the OSI model is responsible for delivering messages between networked hosts. The Transport Layer should be responsible for fragmentation and reassembly.

- This layer converts the data received from the upper layers into segments and prepares them for transport.
- The Transport layer is responsible for end-to-end (source-to-destination) delivery of entire messages.
- It allows data to be transferred reliably and uses sequencing to make sure that the order of packets is maintained.
- It also provides services such as error checking and flow control.
- In case IP, lost packets arriving out of order must be reordered.
- The size and complexity of a transport protocol depends on the type of service it can get from the network layer.
- The transport layer can accept relatively large messages, but there are strict message size limits imposed by the network (or lower) layer.
- Two transport protocols, Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP), sits at the transport layer.
- TCP establishes connections between two hosts on the network through 'sockets' which are determined by the IP address and port number. It keeps a track of the packet delivery order and the packets that must be resent.
- UDP provides a low overhead transmission service, but with less error checking.
- The Transport layer protocols are either connectionless or connection-oriented.
- Connection-oriented means that a connection (a virtual link) must be established before any actual data can be exchanged. e.g. TCP.
- In Connectionless, the sender does not establish a connection before it sends data, it just sends it without guaranteeing delivery. e.g. UDP.

Data Segmentation

Data segmentation is the process by which the transport layer uniquely handles all data passed to and from different upper-level applications. For example, if a user is browsing the web and checking email at the same time, each program would be passing data and waiting for a reply on a unique port number. The Transport layer ensures that data is passed to the correct application.

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