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TCP/IP Architecture and the TCP/IP Model
(Page 2 of 3)
TCP/IP Model Layers
The TCP/IP model uses four layers
that logically span the equivalent of the top six layers of the OSI
reference model; this is shown in Figure 20.
(The physical layer is not covered by the TCP/IP model because the data
link layer is considered the point at which the interface occurs between
the TCP/IP stack and the underlying networking hardware.) The following
are the TCP/IP model layers, starting from the bottom.
Figure 20: OSI Reference Model and TCP/IP Model Layers
The TCP/IP architectural model has four layers that approximately match six of the seven layers in the OSI Reference Model. The TCP/IP model does not address the physical layer, which is where hardware devices reside. The next three layersnetwork interface, internet and (host-to-host) transportcorrespond to layers 2, 3 and 4 of the OSI model. The TCP/IP application layer conceptually blurs the top three OSI layers. Its also worth noting that some people consider certain aspects of the OSI session layer to be arguably part of the TCP/IP host-to-host transport layer.
Network Interface Layer
As its name suggests, this layer
represents the place where the actual TCP/IP protocols running at higher
layers interface to the local network. This layer is somewhat controversial
in that some people don't even consider it a legitimate
part of TCP/IP. This is usually because none of the core IP protocols
run at this layer. Despite this, the network interface layer is part
of the architecture. It is equivalent to the data
link layer (layer two) in the OSI Reference Model
and is also sometimes called the link layer. You may also see
the name network access layer.
On many TCP/IP networks, there is
no TCP/IP protocol running at all on this layer, because it is simply
not needed. For example, if you run TCP/IP over an Ethernet, then Ethernet
handles layer two (and layer one) functions. However, the TCP/IP standards
do define protocols for TCP/IP networks that do not have their own layer
two implementation. These protocols, the Serial
Line Internet Protocol (SLIP) and the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP),
serve to fill the gap between the network layer and the physical layer.
They are commonly used to facilitate TCP/IP over direct serial line
connections (such as dial-up telephone networking) and other technologies
that operate directly at the physical layer.
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Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005
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