Friday, October 1, 2010

IP/IPv4: Internet Protocol Overview

Posted by OurTech Team | Friday, October 1, 2010 | Category: |

The Internet Protocol (IP) is a network-layer (Layer 3) protocol in the OSI model that contains addressing information and some control information to enable packets being routed in network. IP is the primary network-layer protocol in the TCP/IP protocol suite . Along with the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP ), IP represents the heart of the Internet

protocols. IP is equally well suited for both LAN and WAN communications.
IP (Internet Protocol) has two primary responsibilities: providing connectionless, best-effort delivery of datagrams through a network; and providing fragmentation and reassembly of datagrams to support data links with different maximum-transmission unit (MTU) sizes. The IP addressing scheme is integral to the

process of routing IP datagrams through an internetwork. Each IP address has specific components and follows a basic format. These IP addresses can be subdivided and used to create addresses for subnetworks. Each computer (known as host) on a TCP/IP network is assigned an unique logical address (32-bit in IPv4) that is divided into two main parts: the network number and the host number. The network number identifies a network and must be assigned by the Internet Network Information Center (InterNIC) if the network is to be part of the Internet. An Internet Service Provider (ISP) can obtain blocks of network addresses from the InterNIC and can itself assign address space as necessary. The host number identifies a host on a network and is assigned by the local network administrator.
When you send or receive data (for example, an e-mail note or a Web page), the message gets divided into little chunks called packets. Each of these packets contains both the sender's Internet address and the receiver's address.Because a message is divided into a number of packets, each packet can, if necessary, be sent by a different route across the Internet. Packets can arrive in a different order than the order they were sent in. The Internet Protocol just delivers them. It's up to another protocol, the Transmission Control Protocol ( TCP) to put them back in the right order.
All other protocols within the TCP/IP suite, except ARP and RARP, use IP to route frames from host to host.

  • Version -the version of IP currently used.
  • IP Header Length (IHL) - datagram header length. Points to the beginning of the data. The minimum value for a correct header is 5.
  • Type-of-Service- Indicates the quality of service desired by specifying how an upper-layer protocol would like a current datagram to be handled, and assigns datagrams various levels of importance. This field is used for the assignment of Precedence, Delay, Throughput and Reliability.
  • Total Length- Specifies the length, in bytes, of the entire IP packet, including the data and header. The maximum length could be specified by this field is 65,535 bytes. Typically, hosts are prepared to accept datagrams up to 576 bytes.
  • Identification- Contains an integer that identifies the current datagram. This field is assigned by sender to help receiver to assemble the datagram fragments.
  • Flags - Consists of a 3-bit field of which the two low-order (least-significant) bits control fragmentation. The low-order bit specifies whether the packet can be fragmented. The middle bit specifies whether the packet is the last fragment in a series of fragmented packets. The third or high-order bit is not used.
  • Fragment Offset - This 13 bits field indicates the position of the fragment's data relative to the beginning of the data in the original datagram, which allows the destination IP process to properly reconstruct the original datagram.
  • Time-to-Live - It is a counter that gradually decrements down to zero, at which point the datagram is discarded. This keeps packets from looping endlessly.
  • Protocol- Indicates which upper-layer protocol receives incoming packets after IP processing is complete.
  • Header Checksum- Helps ensure IP header integrity. Since some header fields change, e.g., Time To Live, this is recomputed and verified at each point that the Internet header is processed.
  • Source Address-Specifies the sending node.
  • Destination Address-Specifies the receiving node.
  • Options- Allows IP to support various options, such as security.
  • Data - Contains upper-layer information.

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