Internet Protocol (IP) Packet Format

The Internet Protocol specified in RFC 791 defines the IP packet format. The IP packet header has specific fields that contain information about the packet and about the sending and receiving hosts. Below is a list of the fields in the IP header and a brief description for each one. You should already be familiar with destination IP address, source IP address, version, and Time To Live (TTL ) fields. The other fields are important but are outside the scope of this course.
Version - Version number (4 bits); predominant version is IP version 4 (IPv4)
IP header length - Header length in 32-bit words (4 bits)
Precedence and type of service - How the datagram should be handled (8 bits); the first 3 bits are precedence bits (this use has been superseded by Differentiated Services Code Point [DSCP], which uses the first 6 bits [last 2 reserved])
Packet length - Total length (header + data) (16 bits)
Identification - Unique IP datagram value (16 bits)
Flags - Controls fragmenting (3 bits)
Fragment offset - Supports fragmentation of datagrams to allow differing maximum transmission units (MTUs) in the Internet (13 bits)
Time to Live (TTL) - Identifies how many routers can be traversed by the datagram before being dropped (8 bits)
Protocol - Upper-layer protocol sending the datagram (8 bits)
Header checksum - Integrity check on the header (16 bits)
Source IP address - 32-bit source IP address (32 bits)
Destination IP address - 32-bit destination IP address (32 bits)
IP options - Network testing, debugging, security, and others (0 or 32 bits, if any)


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