Tag: MTU

MTU and TCP MSS

UPDATE on 20 Aug 2018:
Johannes – @webernetz from blog.webernetz.net pointed to some inconsistency in my numbers considering the Ethernet frame size in this article.

It was mentioned that Ethernet MTU is by default 1522 bytes and further on that the Ethernet MTU is 1500 bytes. The article is now corrected into stating that Ethernet frame is usually 1522 bytes long if VLAN tagging is used or 1518 bytes long without 802.1Q tag. That leaves a maximum of 1500 bytes for the payload which is effectively Ethernet MTU.

thanks, Johannes

sorry
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Intro

The largest chunk of bytes that a transport protocol can forward across specific medium is called MTU – Maximum Transmission Unit. If we speak about Ethernet, which is today the most common, he has by default a frame size of 1522 bytes with the payload of 1500 bytes which is the amount of useful data he can carry in a single frame.

The story about MTU is that the MTU of specific protocol basically defines how much payload (or highest protocols headers + their payload) it can carry in its biggest packet, not counting his own headers. Putting more payload into a single packet than the MTU allows will result in fragmentation, the process of slicing the frame into more smaller frames so that they can get through the path.

Ethernet frame

So if we look at the wire and catch a standard Ethernet frame, we will see that he is able to carry 1500 bytes of data (Ethernet default MTU of 1500 bytes) and additional Ethernet header which is 18 bytes (14 bytes in header and 4 bytes in trailer) or 22 bytes when it has 802.1q VLAN tag added inside.

Different MTUs: Interface MTU, IP MTU and TCP MSS

Interface MTU (Ethernet MTU)

The image above is showing different MTU types. It is important for to note that Interface MTU (Ethernet MTU) is the maximum MTU size that a specific hardware port on our network device can forward. In the case of Ethernet (IEEE 802.3) the maximum frame size is 1522 bytes which was raised from 1518 bytes to allow VLAN tagging using 802.1q. Minimum Ethernet frame size can be 64 bytes. After some time, when Gigabit and faster ethernet ports started to appear, jumbo frames were introduced with the ability to increase the interface MTU to 9000 bytes for performance reasons (slightly less header overhead).

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