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Framing in Computer Networks

Last Updated on July 14, 2023 by Mayank Dham

In computer networks, the data is transferred from one device to another user using various technologies and protocols. The data has to go through many layers and each layer performs its own function on the data one of the functions is converting the data into frames. The data can be intercepted by unwanted individuals which will lead to security risks and issues. There are various mechanisms that we use to protect the data in computer networks one of them being framing. You will learn all about frames, framing, the importance of framing, advantages, disadvantages, types, etc. in this article.

What are Frames in Computer Networks?

The digital data transmission unit in communications and computer networking is known as a frame. A frame is a simple network message in systems that use packet switching. In other kinds of telecommunication networks, a frame is a repeating framework that enables time-division multiplexing.

A frame typically includes a series of symbols or bits that provide frame synchronization advantages. In the bits and symbols sequence it gets, it displays the beginning and end of the payload data. at the moment a frame is broadcast when a receiver is connected to the system. Until it discovers a new frame coordination sequence, it stays away from the information.

Parts of Frame

A frame generally has the following parts:

  • Frame Header: It contains the source and destination address of the frame.
  • Payload Field: It will contain the message which is needed to be delivered.
  • Trailer: It contains the error correction and error detection bits.
  • Flag: It marks the beginning and the end of the frame.

What is Framing in Computer Networks?

Framing is a process of dividing a stream of data into smaller, more manageable units called frames. The frames are then transmitted over the network and reassembled at the receiving end to recreate the original data stream. Framing is important in computer networks because it helps ensure data integrity and security by allowing the receiver to detect errors and prevent unauthorized access.

How does Framing Work?

Framing is done in computer networks by combining hardware and software. Hardware-level network devices like switches and routers divide the data stream into frames using specialized processors. Then, using a system like Ethernet, these frames are transmitted across the network.

Framing is usually dealt with at the program level by a network protocol like the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) or the High-Level Data Link Control (HDLC). The source and target identifiers, error-checking codes, and other control information are added as headers and trailers by these protocols to each frame.

The same protocol and hardware are used to put the frames back together into the initial data stream after they have been delivered to the target. The receiving device checks each frame for errors and drops any frames that fail the error-checking process.

Why is Framing Important in Computer Networks?

Framing in computer networks is very essential because it helps ensure the security and integrity of data transmitted over the network. It will be quite difficult to check for unauthorized access or errors without framing and that will lead to compromise in the network.

Framing also supports efficient data transmission over the network. In framing, we divide the main data into smaller frames, which will lead to more efficiency, reduction in congestion network, and improve overall network performance for network devices.

Types of Framing in Computer Networks

There are mainly two types of framing and those are explained below:

Fixed Size Framing

Fixed-size framing involves dividing the data into frames of a predetermined, fixed size. This approach is commonly used in networks such as Ethernet, where each frame is exactly 1500 bytes long. The advantage of fixed-size framing is that it is simple and efficient, as all frames are of the same size. This makes it easy for network devices to split the data stream into frames, and for the receiving device to know how much data is in each frame.

Fixed-size framing also makes it easier to manage network resources, as it ensures that each frame takes up the same amount of bandwidth. This is important in high-speed networks where a large amount of data is being transmitted simultaneously. Furthermore, fixed-size framing is suitable for data that can be easily divided into smaller units, such as text files or structured data.

However, fixed-size framing also has some disadvantages. One disadvantage is that it may not be suitable for all types of data. For example, video or audio files may not fit neatly into fixed-size frames, as their size and complexity may vary. Another disadvantage is that it can introduce additional overhead, as some frames may contain unused space if the data being transmitted does not fill the entire frame.

Variable Size Framing

Variable size framing involves dividing the data into frames of varying sizes. This approach is commonly used in networks where the data being transmitted does not fit neatly into fixed-size frames, such as video or audio streaming. In variable-size framing, each frame contains a header that specifies the length of the payload, allowing the receiving device to know how much data is in each frame.

The advantage of variable-size framing is that it provides more flexibility than fixed-size framing. Frames can be sized to fit the data being transmitted, which can help to reduce overhead and increase efficiency. This is particularly important in applications where data may be of varying sizes, such as multimedia streaming.

However, variable-size framing also has some disadvantages. One disadvantage is that it can be more complex to implement, as each frame must contain a header specifying the length of the payload. This increases the overhead of each frame, which can reduce overall network efficiency. Additionally, variable-size framing can introduce additional delay, as the receiver must wait for the entire frame to be received before processing it.

Approaches of Framing in Computer Networks

There are two main types of framing approaches used in computer networks: byte-oriented framing and bit-oriented framing.

Byte-oriented Framing

Byte-oriented framing is the most common type of framing technique used in computer networks. As the name suggests, byte-oriented framing divides data into fixed-length bytes, which are then encapsulated into frames. The frames contain a header, a payload, and a trailer. The header and trailer provide control information such as the source and destination addresses, error-checking codes, and other control information.

Byte-oriented framing is widely used in network protocols such as Ethernet and TCP/IP. It is also used in file transfer protocols such as FTP and HTTP.

Bit-oriented Framing

Bit-oriented framing, also known as character-oriented framing, divides data into variable-length units called characters. Each character is then encapsulated into frames, which contain a header, a payload, and a trailer.

Bit-oriented framing is less common than byte-oriented framing but is still used in some network protocols such as the Synchronous Data Link Control (SDLC) protocol used by IBM mainframes.

Advantages of Framing

Some of the advantages of framing are explained below:

  • Data Integrity: It provides error detection and error correction mechanism which in turn ensure the integrity of the transmitted data over the network.
  • Security: Framing also helps ensure network security by preventing unauthorized access to data.
  • Efficient Data Transmission: By dividing the total data into smaller frames the framing makes the data transmission more efficient and low network congestion with improved overall performance.

Disadvantages of Framing

Here are some of the disadvantages of framing:

  • Overhead: Framing adds overhead to the main data stream which in turn reduces the content of actual data that can be transmitted over the network.
  • Complexity: We need to use both hardware and software mechanisms to implement framing which increases the complexity.
  • Delay: Framing sometimes leads to delay in large networks, as multiple frames are transferred simultaneously.

Framing is an essential mechanism in computer networks that helps ensure the integrity and security of data transmitted over the network. By dividing data into smaller frames, framing enables more efficient data transmission and provides error detection and correction mechanisms. While framing adds overhead to the data stream and can increase network complexity and delay, its benefits far outweigh its disadvantages. As computer networks continue to evolve and become more complex, framing will remain a critical component in ensuring the security and reliability of data transmission.

Framing in Computer Networks – FAQs

Here are some of the frequently asked questions about framing in data link layer

1. What is reassembly in framing?
Reassembly is the process of combining smaller frames back into the original data packet at the

2. What is the difference between framing and packetization?
Framing refers to the process of dividing data into smaller units for transmission over a network, while packetization refers to the process of encapsulating data into packets with additional protocol information for transmission over a network.

3. What is a frame relay?
Frame relay is a high-speed data transmission service that uses frames to transmit data over a wide area network (WAN).

4. What is HDLC?
High-Level Data Link Control (HDLC) is a protocol used for transmitting data over a point-to-point or multipoint communication link. HDLC uses framing to divide data into frames for transmission and includes error detection and correction mechanisms for reliable data transmission.

5. What is the maximum size of an Ethernet frame?
The maximum size of an Ethernet frame is 1518 bytes, including the header and trailer.

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