Default IP MTU for use over ATM AAL5
RFC 1626

Document Type RFC - Proposed Standard (May 1994; No errata)
Obsoleted by RFC 2225
Author Randall Atkinson 
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                        R. Atkinson
Request for Comments: 1626                     Naval Research Laboratory
Category: Standards Track                                       May 1994

                  Default IP MTU for use over ATM AAL5

Status of this Memo

   This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
   Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
   Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
   and status of this protocol.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Default Value for IP MTU over ATM AAL5

   Protocols in wide use throughout the Internet, such as the Network
   File System (NFS), currently use large frame sizes (e.g. 8 KB).
   Empirical evidence with various applications over the Transmission
   Control Protocol (TCP) indicates that larger Maximum Transmission
   Unit (MTU) sizes for the Internet Protocol (IP) tend to give better
   performance.  Fragmentation of IP datagrams is known to be highly
   undesirable. [KM87] It is desirable to reduce fragmentation in the
   network and thereby enhance performance by having the IP Maximum
   Transmission Unit (MTU) for AAL5 be reasonably large.  NFS defaults
   to an 8192 byte frame size.  Allowing for RPC/XDR, UDP, IP, and LLC
   headers, NFS would prefer a default MTU of at least 8300 octets.
   Routers can sometimes perform better with larger packet sizes because
   most of the performance costs in routers relate to "packets handled"
   rather than "bytes transferred".  So there are a number of good
   reasons to have a reasonably large default MTU value for IP over ATM

   RFC 1209 specifies the IP MTU over SMDS to be 9180 octets, which is
   larger than 8300 octets but still in the same range. [RFC-1209] There
   is no good reason for the default MTU of IP over ATM AAL5 to be
   different from IP over SMDS, given that they will be the same
   magnitude.  Having the two be the same size will be helpful in
   interoperability and will also help reduce incidence of IP

   Therefore, the default IP MTU for use with ATM AAL5 shall be 9180
   octets.  All implementations compliant and conformant with this
   specification shall support at least the default IP MTU value for use
   over ATM AAL5.

Atkinson                                                        [Page 1]
RFC 1626          Default IP MTU for use over ATM AAL5          May 1994

Permanent Virtual Circuits

   Implementations which only support Permanent Virtual Circuits (PVCs)
   will (by definition) not implement any ATM signalling protocol.  Such
   implementations shall use the default IP MTU value of 9180 octets
   unless both parties have agreed in advance to use some other IP MTU
   value via some mechanism not specified here.

Switched Virtual Circuits

   Implementations that support Switched Virtual Circuits (SVCs) MUST
   attempt to negotiate the AAL CPCS-SDU size using the ATM signalling
   protocol.  The industry standard ATM signalling protocol uses two
   different parts of the Information Element named "AAL Parameters" to
   exchange information on the MTU over the ATM circuit being setup
   [ATMF93a].  The Forward Maximum CPCS-SDU Size field contains the
   value over the path from the calling party to the called party.  The
   Backwards Maximum CPCS-SDU Size Identifier field contains the value
   over the path from the called party to the calling party.  The ATM
   Forum specifies the valid values of this identifier as 1 to 65535
   inclusive.  Note that the ATM Forum's User-to-Network-Interface (UNI)
   signalling permits the MTU in one direction to be different from the
   MTU in the opposite direction, so the Forward Maximum CPCS-SDU Size
   Identifier might have a different value from the Backwards Maximum
   CPCS-SDU Size Identifier on the same connection.

   If the calling party wishes to use the default MTU it shall still
   include the "AAL Parameters" information element with the default
   values for the Maximum CPCS-SDU Size as part of the SETUP message of
   the ATM signalling protocol [ATMF93b].  If the calling party desires
   to use a different value than the default, it shall include the "AAL
   Parameters" information element with the desired value for the
   Maximum CPCS-SDU Size as part of the SETUP message of the ATM
   Signalling Protocol.  The called party will respond using the same
   information elements and identifiers in its CONNECT message response

   If the called party receives a SETUP message containing the "Maximum
   CPCS-SDU Size" in the AAL Parameters information element, it shall
   handle the Forward and Backward Maximum CPCS-SDU Size Identifier as

    a) If it is able to accept the ATM MTU values proposed by the
       SETUP message, it shall include an AAL Parameters information
       element in its response.  The Forward and Backwards Maximum
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