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Ethernet Minimum Frame Size

All Ethernet frames must carry a minimum payload of 46 bytes. The Ethernet minimum frame size is a result of the Ethernet collision detection scheme applied to a maximum-extent Ethernet network. To detect a collision, Ethernet nodes must be transmitting long enough for the signal indicating the collision to be propagated back to the sending node. The maximum extent Ethernet network consists of Ethernet segments configured using 10Base5 cabling and the IEEE 802.3 Baseband 5-4-3 rule. The IEEE 802.3 Baseband 5-4-3 rule states that there can be a maximum of five physical segments between any two nodes, with four repeaters between the nodes. However, only three of these physical segments can have connected nodes (populated physical segments). The other two physical segments can be used only to link physical segments to extend the network length. Repeaters count as a node on the physical segment. When using 10Base5 cabling, each physical segment can be up to 500 meters long. Therefore, an Ethernet networks maximum linear length is 2500 meters.

shows Ethernet Node A and Ethernet Node B at the farthest ends of a 5-4-3 network using 10Base5 cabling. When Node A begins transmitting, the signal must propagate the network length. In the worstcase collision scenario, Node B begins to transmit just before the signal for Node As frame reaches it. The collision signal of Node A and Node Bs frame must travel back to Node A for Node A to detect that a collision has occurred. The time it takes for a signal to propagate from one end of the network to the other is known as the propagation delay. In this worst-case collision scenario, the time that it takes for Node A to detect that its frame has been collided with is twice the propagation delay. Node As frame must

travel all the way to Node B, and then the collision signal must travel all the way from Node B back to Node A. This time is known as the slot time. An Ethernet node must be transmitting a frame for the slot time for a collision with that frame to be detected. This is the reason for the minimum Ethernet frame size. The propagation delay for this maximum-extent Ethernet network is 28.8 s. Therefore, the slot time is 57.6 s. To transmit for 57.6 s with a 10 Mbps bit rate, an Ethernet node must transmit 576 bits. Therefore, the entire Ethernet frame, including the Preamble field, must be a minimum size of 576 bits, or 72 bytes long. Subtracting the Preamble (8 bytes), Source Address (6 bytes), Destination Address (6 bytes), EtherType (2 bytes), and FCS (4 bytes) fields, the minimum Ethernet payload size is 46 bytes. Upper-layer PDUs smaller than 46 bytes are padded to 46 bytes, ensuring the minimum Ethernet frame size. This padding is not part of the IP datagram or the ARP message and is not included in any length indicator fields within the IP datagram or ARP message. For example, this padding is not included in the IP headers Total Length field, which indicates only the size of the IP datagram, and is used to discard the padding bytes.