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Maximum transmission unit

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In computer networking, the maximum transmission unit (MTU) of a communications protocol of a layer is the size

(in bytes) of the largestprotocol data unit that the layer can pass onwards. MTU parameters usually appear in

association with a communications interface (NIC,serial port, etc.). Standards (Ethernet, for example) can fix the size

of an MTU; or systems (such as point-to-point serial links) may decide MTU at connect time.

A larger MTU brings greater efficiency because each packet carries more user data while protocol overheads, such

as headers or underlying per-packet delays, remain fixed; the resulting higher efficiency means a slight improvement

in bulk protocol throughput. A larger MTU also means processing of fewer packets for the same amount of data. In

some systems, per-packet-processing can be a critical performance limitation.

Large packets can occupy a slow link for some time, causing greater delays to following packets and

increasing lag and minimum latency. For example, a 1500-byte packet, the largest allowed by Ethernet at the

network layer (and hence over most of the Internet), ties up a 14.4k modem for about one second.

Large packets are also problematic in the presence of communications errors. Corruption of a single bit in a packet

requires that the entire packet be retransmitted. At a given bit error rate larger packets are more likely to be

corrupted. Retransmissions of a larger packet takes longer.

[edit]Table of MTUs of common media

Note: the MTUs in this section are given as the maximum size of IP packet that can be transmitted without

fragmentation - including IP headers but excluding headers from lower levels in the protocol stack. The MTU must

not be confused with the maximum datagram size (size of reassembled packet), which has a minimum value of 576

for IPv4[1] and of 1500 for IPv6.[2]

Maximum
Media Transmission Unit Notes
(bytes)

Practical path MTUs are generally higher. All hosts must be


InternetIPv4 [3] prepared to accept datagrams of up to 576 octets (whether they
At least 576
Path MTU arrive whole or in fragments). Systems may use path MTU
discovery[4] to find the actual path MTU.

InternetIPv6 Practical path MTUs are generally higher. Systems may use path
At least 1280[5]
Path MTU MTU discovery[6] to find the actual path MTU.

Ethernet v2 1500[4] Nearly all IP over Ethernet implementations use the Ethernet V2
Ethernet
1492[4] frame format.
(802.3)

The limit varies by vendor. For correct interoperation, the whole


Ethernet
1500-9000 Ethernet network must have the same MTU. Jumbo frames are
Jumbo Frames
usually only seen in special purpose networks.

WLAN
2272[7]
(802.11)

Token Ring
4464
(802.5)

4500[4]
FDDI