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Layers of the OSI (Open System Interface) Model
Defining the Seven Layers of the OSI Model
Application Layer - Layer 7
Presentation Layer - Layer 6
Session Layer - Layer 5
Transport Layer - Layer 4
Network Layer - Layer 3
Data Link Layer - Layer 2
Physical Layer - Layer 1
 
Diagram of the OSI Model - Data Link Layer
The Data Link Layer
The main task of the data link layer is to take a raw transmission facility and transform it into a line that appears free of transmission errors in the network layer. It accomplishes this task by having the sender break the input data up into data frames (typically a few hundred bytes), transmit the frames sequentially, and process the acknowledgment frames sent back by the receiver. Since the physical layer merely accepts and transmits a stream of bits without any regard to meaning of structure, it is up to the data link layer to create and recognize frame boundaries. This can be accomplished by attaching special bit patterns to the beginning and end of the frame. If there is a chance that these bit patterns might occur in the data, special care must be taken to avoid confusion.

The data link layer should provide error control between adjacent nodes.

Another issue that arises in the data link layer (and most of the higher layers as well) is how to keep a fast transmitter from drowning a slow receiver in data. Some traffic regulation mechanism must be employed in order to let the transmitter know how much buffer space the receiver has at the moment. Frequently, flow regulation and error handling are integrated, for convenience.

If the line can be used to transmit data in both directions, this introduces a new complication that the data link layer software must deal with. The problem is that the acknowledgment frames for A to B traffic compete for the use of the line with data frames for the B to A traffic.

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