Frame Relay often is described as a streamlined version of X.25, offering fewer of the robust capabilities, such as windowing and retransmission of last data that are offered in X.25.
Frame Relay Devices
Devices attached to a Frame Relay WAN fall into the following two general categories:
•Data terminal equipment (DTE) •Data circuit-terminating equipment (DCE)
DTEs generally are considered to be terminating equipment for a specific network and typically are located on the premises of a customer. In fact, they may be owned by the customer. Examples of DTE devices are terminals, personal computers, routers, and bridges.
DCEs are carrier-owned internetworking devices. The purpose of DCE equipment is to provide clocking and switching services in a network, which are the devices that actually transmit data through the WAN. In most cases, these are packet switches. Figure 10-1 shows the relationship between the two categories of devices. Standard Frame Relay Frame
Standard Frame Relay frames consist of the fields illustrated in Figure 10-4.
Figure Five Fields Comprise the Frame Relay Frame
Each frame relay PDU consists of the following fields:
Flag Field. The flag is used to perform high level data link synchronization which indicates the beginning and end of the frame with the unique pattern 01111110. To ensure that the 01111110 pattern does not appear somewhere inside the frame, bit stuffing and destuffing procedures are used.
Address Field. Each address field may occupy either octet 2 to 3, octet 2 to 4, or octet 2 to 5, depending on the range of the address in use. A two-octet address field comprising the EA=ADDRESS FIELD EXTENSION BITS and the C/R=COMMAND/RESPONSE BIT.
DLCI-Data Link Connection Identifier Bits. The DLCI serves to identify the virtual connection so that the receiving end knows which information connection a frame belongs to. Note that this DLCI has only local significance. A single physical channel can multiplex several different virtual connections.
FECN, BECN, DE bits. These bits report congestion:
FECN=Forward Explicit Congestion Notification bit
BECN=Backward Explicit Congestion Notification bit
DE=Discard Eligibility bit
Information Field. A system parameter defines the maximum number of data bytes that a host can pack into a frame. Hosts may negotiate the actual maximum frame length at call set-up time. The standard specifies the maximum information field size (supportable by any network) as at least 262 octets. Since end-to-end protocols typically operate on the basis of larger information units, frame relay recommends that the network support the maximum value of at least 1600 octets in order to avoid the need for segmentation and reassembling by end-users.