ATM: Asynchronous Transfer Mode Protocol


ATM: Asynchronous Transfer Mode Protocol
The Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) composes a protocol suite which establishes a mechanism to carry all traffic on a stream of fixed 53-byte packets (cells). A fixed-size packet can ensure that the switching and multiplexing function could be carried out quickly and easily. ATM is a connection-oriented technology, i.e.; two systems on the network should inform all intermediate switches about their service requirements and traffic parameters in order to establish communication. 


The ATM reference model, which has two forms - one for the user-to-network interface (UNI) and the other for the network-to-node interface (NNI), is divided into three layers: the ATM adaptation layer (AAL), the ATM layer, and the physical layer. The AAL interfaces the higher layer protocols to the ATM Layer, which relays ATM cells both from the upper layers to the ATM Layer and vice versa. When relaying information received from the higher layers, the AAL segments the data into ATM cells. When relaying information received from the ATM Layer, the AAL must reassemble the payloads into a format the higher layers can understand. This is called Segmentation and Reassembly (SAR). Different AALs are defined in supporting different types of traffic or service expected to be used on ATM networks.

The ATM layer is responsible for relaying cells from the AAL to the physical layer for transmission and from the physical layer to the AAL for use at the end systems, it determines where the incoming cells should be forwarded to, resets the corresponding connection identifiers and forwards the cells to the next link, as well as buffers cells, and handles various traffic management functions such as cell loss priority marking, congestion indication, and generic flow control access. It also monitors the transmission rate and conformance to the service contract (traffic policing).
The physical layer of ATM defines the bit timing and other characteristics for encoding and decoding the data into suitable electrical/optical waveforms for transmission and reception on the specific physical media used. In addition, it also provides frame adaptation function, which includes cell delineation, header error check (HEC) generation and processing, performance monitoring, and payload rate matching of the different transport formats used at this layer. SONET , DS3, Fiber, twisted-pair are few media often used at the physical layer.



Protocol Structure - ATM: Asynchronous Transfer Mode Protocol 

ATM Cell Format: 


H
E
A
D
E
R
GFC or VPI
VPI
VPI
VCI
VCI
VCI
PT (3 Bit)
CLP
HEC
IE
Cell Payload (48 Bytes)
  • Header — (5 Bytes) Generic flow control, VPI/VCI, and other control header.
  • IE — (48 Bytes) Cell Payload.
Physical Layer Specification – Private UNI:

Frame Format
Bit Rate/Line Rate
Media
Cell Stream
25.6 Mbps/ 32 Mbaud
UTP-3
STS-1
51.84 Mbps
UTP-3
FDDI
100 Mbps/ 125 Mbaud
Multimode Fiber
STS-3c, STM-1
155.52 Mbps
UTP-5
STS-3c, STM-1
155.52 Mbps
Single-Mode Fiber, Multimode Fiber, Coax pair
Cell Stream
155.52 Mbps/ 194.4Mbaud
Multimode Fiber, STP
STS-3c, STM-1
155.52 Mbps
UTP-3
STS-12, STM-4
622.08 Mbps
SMF, MMF

Physical Layer Specification – Public UNI: 

Frame Format 
 Bit Rate/Line Rate
Media
DS1
1.544 Mbps
Twisted pair
DS3
44.736 Mbps
Coax pair
STS-3c, STM-1
155.520 Mbps
Single-mode Fiber
E1
2.048 Mbps
Twisted pair, Coax pair
E3
34.368 Mbps
Coax pair
J2
6.312 Mbps
Coax pair
N × T1
N × 1.544 Mbps 
Twisted pair


The ATM protocol reference model is based on standards developed by the ITU.
http://www.atmforum.com/standards/approved.html : ATM Forum approved specifications

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