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10.6 UDP Characteristics
UDP Characteristics Section 10: Understanding TCP/IP Transport Layer UDP is a core protocol in the TCP/IP protocol site. Applications leverage the connectionless services of UDP to provide highperformance, lowoverhead data communications between hosts. UDP includes a number of features that provide for low latency data transmission. UDP is a simple protocol that provides basic transport layer functions: UDP operates at the transport layer of the TCP/IP stack (OSI Layer 4). UDP provides applications with access to the network layer without the overhead of reliability mechanisms. UDP is a connectionless protocol in which a oneway datagram is sent to a destination without advance notification to the destination device. UDP performs only limited error checking. A UDP datagram includes an optional checksum value, which the receiving device can use to test the integrity of the data. UDP provides service on a besteffort basis and does not guarantee data delivery, because packets can be misdirected, duplicated, or lost on the way to their destination. UDP does not provide any special features that recover lost or corrupted packets. UDP relies on applications that are using its transport services to provide recovery. Because of its low overhead, UDP is ideal for applications like DNS and NTP, where there is a simple requestandresponse transaction. An easy way to think of UDP is to use a postal service analogy. You are going to host a threefamily garage sale next weekend, and you would like to send postcards that notify neighbors about the event, including the day, time, and location. You address each postcard with the name and address of your neighbors within a 6.2mile (10km) radius. The postal service delivers each postcard by any truck and any route. You have the option of paying additional postage for a delivery confirmation, but you decide that this additional expense is unnecessary because it is not important if a postcard is lost in transit, or if a neighbor acknowledges receipt of the message. The low overhead of UDP is evident when you review the UDP header length of only 64 bits (8 bytes). This is a significant savings compared with the TCP minimum header length of 20 bytes. The following list describes the field definitions in the UDP segment: Source Port: Number of the calling port (16 bits) Destination Port: Number of the called port (16 bits) Length: Length of UDP header and UDP data (16 bits) Checksum: Calculated checksum of the header and data fields (16 bits) Data: ULP data (varies in size) UDP Characteristics 16Bit Source Port 16Bit Destination Port 16Bit UDP Length 16Bit UDP Checksum Data Application layer protocols that use UDP include DNS, SNMP, DHCP, RIP, TFTP, NFS, online games, and streaming media. Up Next: TCP/IP Applications