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TCP Overview, History and Standards
(Page 2 of 3)
Overview of TCP Characteristics and Operation
TCP is a full-featured transport
layer protocol that provides all the functions needed by a typical application
for the reliable transportation of data across an arbitrary internetwork.
It provides transport-layer addressing for application processes in
the form of TCP
ports, and allows these ports to be used
in establishing connections between machines. Once connections have
been created, data can be passed bidirectionally between two devices.
Applications can send data to TCP as a simple stream
of bytes, and TCP takes care of packaging
and sending the data as segments that are packaged into IP datagrams.
The receiving device's TCP implementation reverses the process, passing
up to the application the stream of data originally sent.
TCP includes an extensive set of
mechanisms to ensure that data gets from source to destination reliably,
consistently and in a timely fashion. The key to its operation in this
regard is the sliding
window acknowledgement system, which allows
each device to keep track of which bytes of data have been sent and
to confirm receipt of data received from the other device in the connection.
Unacknowledged data is eventually retransmitted
automatically, and the parameters of the
system can be adjusted to the needs of the devices and the connection.
This same system also provides buffering and flow
control capabilities between devices,
to handle uneven data delivery rates and other problems.
The inclusion of so many capabilities
in TCP maximizes the likelihood that just about any application requiring
connection-oriented reliable data delivery will be satisfied by the
protocol. This is a primary goal of TCP, as it means that higher-layer
applications don't individually have to provide these common functions.
TCP is the most widely used TCP/IP transport protocol, employed by the
majority of conventional message-passing applications.
Key Concept: The primary transport layer protocol in the TCP/IP suite is the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). TCP is a connection-oriented, acknowledged, reliable, fully-featured protocol designed to provide applications with a reliable way to send data using the unreliable Internet Protocol. It allows applications to send bytes of data as a stream of bytes, and automatically packages them into appropriately-sized segments for transmission. It uses a special sliding window acknowledgment system to ensure that all data is received by its recipient, to handle necessary retransmissions, and to provide flow control so each device in a connection can manage the rate at which it is sent data.
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The TCP/IP Guide (http://www.TCPIPGuide.com)
Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005
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