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Segment (TCP)

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Note: Many topics at this site are reduced versions of the text in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications." Search results will not be as extensive as a search of the book's CD-ROM.

A segment is the unit of end-to-end transmission in the TCP protocol. In general discussion about transmitting information from one node to another, the term "packet" is used loosely to refer to a piece of data. However, the specific packet of data formed by TCP in the transport layer is called a "segment."

When an application needs to send information to another network-attached computer, it forms a message. The message is passed to TCP (assuming a reliable protocol is needed; otherwise, it is sent to UDP), where it is encapsulated into a segment. The segment is sent to IP where it is encapsulated into a datagram. The datagram is sent to the data link layer where it is encapsulated into frames. See "Network Architecture" for more information about this process. Also see "TCP (Transmission Control Protocol)."

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