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IEEE 802.1p: LAN Layer 2 QoS/CoS Protocol for Traffic Prioritization
IEEE 802.1p specification enables Layer 2 switches to prioritize traffic and perform dynamic multicast filtering. The prioritization specification works at the media access control (MAC) framing layer (OSI model layer 2). The 802.1P standard also offers provisions to filter multicast traffic to ensure it does not proliferate over layer 2-switched networks.
The 802.1p header includes a three-bit field for prioritization, which allows packets to be grouped into various traffic classes. The IEEE has made broad recommendations concerning how network managers can implement these traffic classes, but it stops short of mandating the use of its recommended traffic class definitions. It can also be defined as best-effort QoS (Quality of Service) or CoS (Class of Service) at Layer 2 and is implemented in network adapters and switches without involving any reservation setup. 802.1p traffic is simply classified and sent to the destination; no bandwidth reservations are established.
The IEEE 802.1p is an extension of the IEEE 802.1Q (VLANs tagging) standard and they work in tandem. The 802.1Q standard specifies a tag that appends to an Ethernet MAC frame. The VLAN tag has two parts: The VLAN ID (12-bit) and Prioritization (3-bit). The prioritization field was not defined and used in the 802.1Q VLAN standard. The 802.1P defines this prioritization field.
IEEE 802.1p establishes eight levels of priority. Although network managers must determine actual mappings, IEEE has made broad recommendations. The highest priority is seven, which might go to network-critical traffic such as Routing Information Protocol (RIP) and Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) table updates. Values five and six might be for delay-sensitive applications such as interactive video and voice. Data classes four through one range from controlled-load applications such as streaming multimedia and business-critical traffic - carrying SAP data, for instance - down to "loss eligible" traffic. The zero value is used as a best-effort default, invoked automatically when no other value has been set.
Protocol Structure - IEEE 802.1p: LAN Layer 2 QoS/CoS Protocol for Traffic Prioritization
IEEE 802.1Q Tagged Frame for Ethernet: