TCP segments are sent as internet datagrams. The Internet Protocol header carries several information fields, including the source and destination host addresses . A TCP header follows the internet header, supplying information specific to the TCP protocol. This division allows for the existence of host level protocols other than TCP.
TCP Header Format
0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ | Source Port | Destination Port | +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ | Sequence Number | +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ | Acknowledgment Number | +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ | Data | |U|A|P|R|S|F| | | Offset| Reserved |R|C|S|S|Y|I| Window | | | |G|K|H|T|N|N| | +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ | Checksum | Urgent Pointer | +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ | Options | Padding | +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ | data | +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+ TCP Header Format Note that one tick mark represents one bit position. Figure 3.
Source Port: 16 bits
The source port number.
Destination Port: 16 bits
The destination port number.
Sequence Number: 32 bits
The sequence number of the first data octet in this segment (except when SYN is present). If SYN is present the sequence number is the initial sequence number (ISN) and the first data octet is ISN+1.
Acknowledgment Number: 32 bits
If the ACK control bit is set this field contains the value of the next sequence number the sender of the segment is expecting to receive. Once a connection is established this is always sent.
Data Offset: 4 bits
The number of 32 bit words in the TCP Header. This indicates where the data begins. The TCP header (even one including options) is an integral number of 32 bits long.
Reserved: 6 bits
Reserved for future use. Must be zero.
Control Bits: 6 bits (from left to right):
URG: Urgent Pointer field significant ACK: Acknowledgment field significant PSH: Push Function RST: Reset the connection SYN: Synchronize sequence numbers FIN: No more data from sender
Window: 16 bits
The number of data octets beginning with the one indicated in the acknowledgment field which the sender of this segment is willing to accept.
Checksum: 16 bits
The checksum field is the 16 bit one's complement of the one's complement sum of all 16 bit words in the header and text. If a segment contains an odd number of header and text octets to be checksummed, the last octet is padded on the right with zeros to form a 16 bit word for checksum purposes. The pad is not transmitted as part of the segment. While computing the checksum, the checksum field itself is replaced with zeros. The checksum also covers a 96 bit pseudo header conceptually prefixed to the TCP header. This pseudo header contains the Source Address, the Destination Address, the Protocol, and TCP length. This gives the TCP protection against misrouted segments. This information is carried in the Internet Protocol and is transferred across the TCP/Network interface in the arguments or results of calls by the TCP on the IP. +--------+--------+--------+--------+ | Source Address | +--------+--------+--------+--------+ | Destination Address | +--------+--------+--------+--------+ | zero | PTCL | TCP Length | +--------+--------+--------+--------+ The TCP Length is the TCP header length plus the data length in octets (this is not an explicitly transmitted quantity, but is computed), and it does not count the 12 octets of the pseudo header.
Urgent Pointer: 16 bits
This field communicates the current value of the urgent pointer as a positive offset from the sequence number in this segment. The urgent pointer points to the sequence number of the octet following the urgent data. This field is only be interpreted in segments with the URG control bit set.
Options may occupy space at the end of the TCP header and are a multiple of 8 bits in length. All options are included in the checksum. An option may begin on any octet boundary. There are two cases for the format of an option: Case 1: A single octet of option-kind. Case 2: An octet of option-kind, an octet of option-length, and the actual option-data octets. The option-length counts the two octets of option-kind and option-length as well as the option-data octets. Note that the list of options may be shorter than the data offset field might imply. The content of the header beyond the End-of-Option option must be header padding (i.e., zero). A TCP must implement all options. Currently defined options include (kind indicated in octal): Kind Length Meaning ---- ------ ------- 0 - End of option list. 1 - No-Operation. 2 4 Maximum Segment Size. Specific Option Definitions End of Option List +--------+ |00000000| +--------+ Kind=0 This option code indicates the end of the option list. This might not coincide with the end of the TCP header according to the Data Offset field. This is used at the end of all options, not the end of each option, and need only be used if the end of the options would not otherwise coincide with the end of the TCP header. No-Operation +--------+ |00000001| +--------+ Kind=1 This option code may be used between options, for example, to align the beginning of a subsequent option on a word boundary. There is no guarantee that senders will use this option, so receivers must be prepared to process options even if they do not begin on a word boundary. Maximum Segment Size +--------+--------+---------+--------+ |00000010|00000100| max seg size | +--------+--------+---------+--------+ Kind=2 Length=4 Maximum Segment Size Option Data: 16 bits If this option is present, then it communicates the maximum receive segment size at the TCP which sends this segment. This field must only be sent in the initial connection request (i.e., in segments with the SYN control bit set). If this option is not used, any segment size is allowed.
The TCP header padding is used to ensure that the TCP header ends and data begins on a 32 bit boundary. The padding is composed of zeros.