Sunday, September 28, 2008

collision diameter

The CSMA/CD protocol does not allow a node to start transmitting while the wire is being used by another node (that is the carrier-sense part). However, it is possible for two nodes to start transmitting at almost the same time. The result is that the two transmissions interfere with each other and neither transmission can be properly received. The period during which a collision can occur is the time from when a node starts to transmit to when the signal actually arrives at all other nodes on the wire. This time depends on the physical distance between the furthest nodes on the wire. If this distance is too long, a node might finish transmitting a frame before it arrives at all nodes on the wire. This would make it possible for a collision to occur that the transmitting node would not detect. In order to prevent this from happening, the physical span of a shared-media Ethernet network is limited. This distance is known as the collision diameter; it is a function of the time necessary to transmit the shortest possible Ethernet frame (64 bytes). The collision diameter of a traditional Ethernet operating at 10Mbps is about two kilometers, which is plenty for most local area networks. However, the collision diameter shrinks at faster data rates, since the time it takes to transmit a frame is less. The collision diameter for Fast Ethernet, which operates at 100Mbps, is 200 meters—a limit that can be constraining in a large building. (The collision diameter for Gigabit Ethernet would be 20 meters, but because this distance is so ridiculously short, Gigabit Ethernet does not use CSMA/CD.)

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