System Administration Guide: IP Services

Transport Layer

The TCP/IP transport layer protocols ensure 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) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP).

TCP Protocol

TCP enables applications to communicate with each other as though 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 a starting point, which opens the connection, the entire transmission in byte order, and an ending point, which closes the connection.

TCP attaches a header onto the transmitted data. This header contains a large number of parameters that help processes on the sending machine connect to peer processes on the receiving machine.

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.

UDP Protocol

UDP, the other transport layer protocol, 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 rather than TCP.