System Administration Guide: IP Services

Transport Layer

The TCP/IP transport layer ensures that packets arrive in sequence and without error, by swapping acknowledgments of data reception, and retransmitting lost packets. This type of communication is known as end-to-end. Transport layer protocols at this level are Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), User Datagram Protocol (UDP), and Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP). TCP and SCTP provide reliable, end-to-end service. UDP provides unreliable datagram service.

TCP Protocol

TCP enables applications to communicate with each other as though they were connected by a physical circuit. TCP sends data in a form that appears to be transmitted in a character-by-character fashion, rather than as discrete packets. This transmission consists of the following:

TCP attaches a header onto the transmitted data. This header contains many parameters that help processes on the sending system connect to peer processes on the receiving system.

TCP confirms that a packet has reached its destination by establishing an end-to-end connection between sending and receiving hosts. TCP is therefore considered a “reliable, connection-oriented” protocol.

SCTP Protocol

SCTP is a reliable, connection-oriented transport layer protocol that provides the same services to applications that are available from TCP. Moreover, SCTP can support connections between systems that have more than one address, or multihomed. The SCTP connection between sending and receiving system is called an association. Data in the association is organized in chunks. Because SCTP supports multihoming, certain applications, particularly applications used by the telecommunications industry, need to run over SCTP, rather than TCP.

UDP Protocol

UDP provides datagram delivery service. UDP does not verify connections between receiving and sending hosts. Because UDP eliminates the processes of establishing and verifying connections, applications that send small amounts of data use UDP.