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Chapter 3:

ATM Networks
– The ATM header
– The ATM protocol stack
– The physical layer
– ATM switch architectures
– ATM adaptation layers
– IP over ATM

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Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM)

• The word Asynchronous in ATM is in

contrast to Synchronous Transfer Mode
(STM) that was proposed earlier on, which
was based on the SONET/SDH hierarchy.
• Transfer Mode refers to a telecommunication

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• ATM was standardized by ITU-T (old CCITT) in
1988 as the transfer mode of B-ISDN
• It can carry a variety of different types of traffic,
such as
– Voice
– Video
– Data
At speeds varying from fractional T1 to 2.4 Gbps

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• These different types of traffic have

different Quality-of-Service (QoS)
requirements, such as:
– Packet loss
– End-to-end delay
• ATM, unlike IP networks, can provide each
traffic connection a different type of quality
of service.

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Some features of ATM
• Connection-oriented packet-switched network
• Fixed cell (packet) size of 48+5 bytes
Header Payload

5 bytes 48 bytes

• No error protection on a link-by-link

• No flow control on a link-by-link
• Delivers cells in the order in which they were

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The structure of the ATM cell

UNI cell format NNI cell format
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1 1
2 2
t y
e t
5 HEC e 5 HEC

. Information . Information
. payload . payload
. .

53 53

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Fields in the ATM cell header

• Connection identifier: VPI/VCI,
• Payload type indicator (PTI)
• Cell loss priority (CLP)
• Head error control (HEC)

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ATM connections
• Identified by the combined fields
– virtual path identification (VPI), and
– virtual channel identification (VCI)
• VPI field:
– 256 virtual paths at the UNI interface, and
– 4096 virtual paths at the NNI interface.
• VCI field:
– a maximum of 65,536 VCIs.

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• VPI/VCI values have local significance.
That is, they are only valid for a single hop.
• A connection over many hops, is associated
with a different VPI/VCI value on each hop.
• Each switch maintains a switching table.
For each connection, it keeps the incoming
and outgoing VPI/VCI values and the input
and output ports.

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Label swapping

C VPI=30
VPI=40 1
VPI=30 VPI=100
VCI=62 ATM VCI=53 4 VCI=53
switch 1 switch 2 5

3 VPI=10
30 41 1 30 53 4 VCI=89 30 53 4 100 53 5
40 62 2 10 89 3

switch 3
10 89 1 50 77 6

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PVCs and SVCs
• Depending how a connection is set-up, it
may be
– Permanent virtual circuit (PVC)
– Switched Virtual circuit (SVC)
• PVCs are set-up administratively. They
remain up for a long time.
• SVCs are set-up in real-time using ATM
signalling. Their duration is arbitrary.

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Payload type Indicator

• PTI Meaning
• 000 User data cell, congestion not experienced, SDU type=0
• 001 User data cell, congestion not experienced, SDU type=1
• 010 User data cell, congestion experienced, SDU type=0
• 011 User data cell, congestion experienced, SDU type=1
• 100 Segment OAM flow-related cell
• 101 End-to-end OAM flow-related cell
• 110 RM cell
• 111 Reserved

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Head Error Control (HEC)

Multiple bit error detected

(cell discarded

No error detected Correction Detection Error detected

(No action) mode mode (cell discard)
No error detected

Single bit error detected


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The ATM protocol stack

voice Video Data

ATM adaptation layer

ATM layer

Physical layer

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The physical layer

• The physical layer transports ATM cells

between two adjacent ATM layers.
• It is subdivided into
– transmission convergence (TC) sublayer
– physical medium-dependent (PMD) sublayer.

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The transmission convergence (TC)

• HEC cell generation and verification
– Implements the HEC state machine
• Decoupling of cell rate
– Maintains a continuous bit stream by inserting idle cells
• Transmission frame generation and recovery
– Such as SONET frames
• Cell delineation

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Cell delineation is the extraction of cells from the
bit stream received from the PMD sublayer.

HEC for α cells
hunt Sync

Correct Correct
HEC HEC for δ cells


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• Physical medium dependent (PMD)

– Timing function
• Used to synchronize the transmitting and receiving
PMD sublayers.
– Encoding/decoding
• PMD may operate on a bit-by-bit basis or using
block coding such as 4B/5B and 8B/10B schemes.

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ATM physical layer interfaces

• Plesiochronous digital hierarchy (PDH)
• Nx64 Kbps
• Inverse mulitplexing for ATM (IMA)
• asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL)

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The ATM layer

• The ATM layer is concerned with the end-

to-end transfer of information, i.e., from the
transmitting end-device to the receiving
• Below, we summarize its main features.

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Connection-oriented packet switching

• The ATM layer is a connection-oriented point-to

point packet-switched network with fixed-size
packets (known as cells).
• A connection is identified by a series of VPI/VCI
labels, as explained above, and it may be point-to-
point or point-to-multipoint.
• Cells are delivered to the destination in the order
in which they were transmitted.

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Cell switching in ATM networks

is carried out at the ATM level

Application Application

End-device ATM switch ATM switch End-device

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No error and flow control
on each hop
• Low probability of a cell getting lost or delivered to the
destination end-device in error.
• The recovery of the data carried by lost or corrupted cells
is expected to be carried out by a higher-level protocol,
such as TCP.
• When TCP/IP runs over ATM, the loss or corruption of the
payload of a single cell results in the retransmission of an
entire TCP PDU.

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• Each ATM end-device and ATM switch has a unique

ATM address.
• Private and public networks use different ATM
addresses. Public networks use E.164 addresses and
private networks use the OSI NSAP format.
• ATM addresses are different to IP addresses.

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Quality of service

• Each ATM connection is associated with a

quality-of-service category.
• Each quality-of-service category is associated with
a set of traffic parameters and a set of quality-of-
service parameters.
• The ATM network guarantees the negotiated
quality-of-service for each connection.

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Congestion control

• In ATM networks, congestion control

permits the network operator to carry as
much traffic as possible without affecting
the quality of service requested by the users.
• It consists of call admission control and a
policing mechanism.

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The ATM switch architecture

Input Output
queues queues
1 1

Incoming ... Outgoing
links links

Switch fabric

A generic ATM switch

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The shared memory ATM switch


Shared memory
1 1



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• If the speed of transmission on each
incoming and outgoing link is V, then the
switch can keep up at maximum arrival rate,
if the memory's bandwidth is 2NV
• Total memory capacity is B cells
• Each linked list i is associated with a
minimum dedicated space and it is limited
to an upper bound Bi, Bi<B so that ΣBi>B.

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Cell loss in a shared memory switch

• Cell loss occurs when a cell arrives at a time when
the shared memory is full, that is it, contains B
• Cell loss can also occur when a cell with
destination output port i arrives at a time when the
total number of cells queued for this output port is
Bi cells (even if the total number of cells in the
shared memory is less than B.)

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Non-blocking output buffering switch
• In a non-blocking switch, the switching fabric
does not give rise to internal or external blocking.
• An output buffering switch has buffers only at its
output ports.
output ports


• A shared memory switch is non-blocking with

output buffering
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Scheduling algorithms
• Let us consider a non-blocking switch with output
buffering. Each output buffer holds cells that
belong to different connections.
• Each of these connections is associated with a
quality-of-service category.
• The cells belonging to these connections are
grouped into queues, one per quality-of-service
category, and these queues are served using a
scheduling algorithm.

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Static priorities

• Priorities among the
RT-VBR queues
• Always serve high
From priority queue first,
then second priority
queue, etc.
• Aging
• Purging

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Early deadline first (EDF) algorithm

• Each cell is assigned a deadline upon arrival at

the buffer. The scheduler servers the cells
according to their deadlines, so that the one with
the earliest deadline gets served first.
• Cells belonging to delay-sensitive applications,
such as voice or video, can be served first by
assigning them deadlines closer to their arrival

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The round-robin scheduler
• Each output buffer is organized into a number of
logical queues.
• The scheduler serves one cell from each queue in
a round robin fashion
• Empty queues are skipped
• Weighted round robin scheduling can be used to
serve a different number of cells from each queue

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The ATM adaptation layer

• The purpose of AAL is to isolate higher

layers from the specific characteristics of
the ATM layer.
• AAL consists of the
– convergence sublayer, and the
– segmentation-and-reassembly sublayer.

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The AAL sublayers

Service Specific
Convergence Convergence Sublayer (SSCS)
Sublayer Common Part
Sublayer (CPS)

Segmentation and Reassembly


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ATM Adaptation Layer 1 (AAL 1)

• This AAL can be used for applications such as:

– circuit emulation services
• It emulates a point-to-point TDM circuit over ATM
– Constant-bit rate audio
• Used to provide an interconnection between two
PBXs over a private or public ATM network

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The SAR encapsulation for AAL 1

SAR Header payload

SN SNP 47 bytes

CSI Sequence. count CRC-3 Parity

1 bit 3 bits 3 bits 1 bit

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The AAL 1 CS functions:

1. Handling of cell variation
– Due to queueing delays, inter-arrival times of cells vary (jitter).
Sender Receiver

cell cell cell cell cell cell

i-1 i i+1 ATM i-1 i i+1

t t s s
i-1 i i-1 i
Inter-departure gaps Inter-arrival gaps

– CS writes received data into a buffer, and then delivers the

information to the application at constant bit rate.

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2. Processing of the sequence count
– The sequence count values are processed by CS in
order to detect lost or misinserted cells. Detected
misinserted cells are discarded. In order to maintain
bit count integrity of the AAL user information, it
may be necessary to compensate for lost cells by
inserting dummy SAR-PDU payloads.
3. Forward error correction
– For video and high quality audio forward error
correction may be performed in order to protect
against bit errors. This may be combined with
interleaving of AAL user bits to give a more secure
protection against errors.

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4. Transfer of timing information

a. Synchronous residual time stamp (SRTS):
CS conveys to the receiver in the CSI field the
difference between a common clock derived from the
network and the sender’s clock
b. Adaptive clock method:
The receiver writes the received information into a
buffer and reads out from the buffer. If its clock is
fast/slow the occupancy in the buffer will be
below/over the median

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5. Structured and unstructured data transfers
Two CS-PDU formats have been defined:
a. CS-PDU non-P format:
Constructed from 47 bytes of information
supplied by an AAL user
b. CS-PDU P format:
Constructed from a 1-byte header and 46 bytes
of information supplied by an AAL use.
The header consists of a 7-bit pointer (SDT
pointer) and 1 even bit parity.

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Circuit Emulation Services

ATM network
User A User B

• The structured and unstructured data transfers are

used in Circuit Emulation Services (CES), which
emulate a T1/E1 link over ATM.
• CES is implemented in an interworking function

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• Unstructured service
– The entire DS1/E1 signal is transported by
packing it bit by bit into the 47-byte payload of
a CS-PDU non-P format, which is then carried
by an ATM cell.

47 bytes -> 376 bits -> less than 2 DS-1

frames (193 bits/frame)

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• Structured transfers
– It is used to carry fractional T1/E1, i.e. Nx64
– Fractional T1/E1 generates blocks of N bytes
every 125 µsec. Such a block of data is referred
to in the standards as a structured block.
– Blocks of N bytes are transported back-to-back
over successive cells using both the CS-PDU
non-P and P formats.

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• The SDT pointer
– The SDT pointer in the CS-PDU P format is
used to help delineate the boundaries of these
– The actual rules as to when to use the SDT
pointer in the P format are somewhat complex.

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An example: block size = 20 bytes

Seq, count 0 Seq, count 1 Seq, count 2 Seq, count 3

20 20 6 14 20 13 7 20 20 20 20 7

Seq, count 4 Seq, count 5 Seq, count 6 Seq, count 7

13 20 14 6 20 20 1 19 20 7 13 20 14

Seq, count 0 Seq, count 1 Seq, count 2 Seq, count 3

6 20 20 20 20 7 13 20 14 6 20 20 1

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ATM Adaptation Layer 2 (AAL 2)

• Defined for delay sensitive applications

with a low bit rate, such as voice and
voiceband traffic (facsimile, modem traffic)
• AAL 2 is used in to interconnect two distant
public or private telephone networks over
an ATM network.

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• At the sender, AAL 2 multiplexes several streams

onto the same ATM connection
• At the receiver, it de-multiplexes the date from
the connection to the individual streams.

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The SSCS and CPS sublayers

• The AAL 2 services are provided by the

convergence sublayer, which is subdivided into
– Service Specific Convergence Sublayer (SSCS)
– Common part sublayer (CPS).

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Functional model of AAL 2 (sender side)

• Each stream is served by a separate SSCS which is
associated with a CID





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SSCS for AAL 2 trunking

• A specialized SSCS has been developed to

support “ATM trunking using AAL 2 for
narrowband services”.
• It is described in Chapter 12

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CPS-packets and CPS-PDUs

• A transmitting SSCS uses a timer to decide

when to pass on the data to CPS.
• Data from an SSCS is packed into a CPS-packet
• CPS-packets from different SSCSs are packed
into a CPS-PDU, which is exactly 48 bytes and
it is carried in an ATM cell

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Packing CPS-packets into CPS-PDUs

CPS-packets 1 2 3 4 5

CPS-PDUs 1 2 3 3 4 5

ATM cells

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The structure of the CPS-packet


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

48 PAD

CPS-packet CPS-PDU

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The CPS-packet fields
• Channel identifier (CID) - 8 bits:
– Identifies a channel. Same value is used for both directions.
– CIDs are allocated using the AAL negotiation procedures (ANP)
• Packet payload type (PPT) - 2 bits:
– Indicates whether it carries voice or network management data
• Length indicator (LI) - 6 bits:
– Default maximum length of the CPS-packet payload is 45 bytes.
• Header error control (HEC) - 5 bits:
– Pattern is: x5+x2+1.
• User-to-user-indication (UUI) - 3 bits:
– Used to transfer information transparently between the peers.

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CPS-PDU fields
Offset field (OSF) (6 bits)
• Used to identify the beginning of a CPS-
packet. It points to the first new CPS-packet
in the CPS-PDU payload
• In the absence of a new CPS-packet, it
points to the beginning of the pad
• The value of 47 indicates that there is no
beginning of a CPS-packet in the CPS-PDU.

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An example

20 48 35 20

20 27 21 26 9 20
#1 #2 #3 #3 #4
#2 padding

OSF =0 OSF=21 OSF=9

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ATM adaptation layer 5 (AAL 5)

• Very popular AAL due to its simplicity
• A user-PDU is encapsulated and then broken up to
fragments, each carried by an ATM cell
• AAL 5 consists of
– Convergence sublayer (CS)
– Segmentation and reassembly (SAR).

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• Provides a non-assured transfer operation.
• User-PDUs of a length up to 65,535 bytes
can be transferred.
• Erroneous CPS-PDUs can be detected at the
receiver’s side. No recovery of an erroneous
CS-PDU takes place. Instead, an indication
is sent to the the higher-level application.

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CPS encapsulation
User-PDU Pad CPS-UU Length CRC-32

• Pad: from 0 to 47 bytes, so that the entire CPS-PDU becomes

an integer multiple of 48 bytes. The User-PDU can be up to
65,535 bytes
• CPS User-to-user indication (CPS-UU): 1-byte field
• Common part indicator (CPI): 1-byte field for future use
• Length: 2-byte field gives length of CPS-PDU payload.
• CRC pattern: 4-byte field contains the FCS calculated using
the pattern x +x +x +x +x +x +x +x +x +x +x +x +x +x+1.
32 26 23 22 16 12 11 10 8 7 5 4 2

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SAR sublayer - transmitter

• SAR segments a CPS-PDU into a sequence

of 48-byte segments.
• No additional encapsulation
• Each segment is carried in the payload of an
ATM cell
• Last cell has its PTI marked with SDU=1.

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SAR sublayer - Receiver

• SAR appends payloads of the ATM cell
into a buffer until
1. It encounters an SDU=1 in PTI field
• It checks the CRC and then passes the PDU to the
application above with an indication as to whether
it is correct or not.
2. Buffer is exceeded
• It passed the PDU to the application above with an
indication that buffer was exceeded.

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Classical IP and ARP over ATM

• This is a technique proposed by IETF for

supporting IP over ATM in a single logical IP
subnet (LIS).
• A LIS is a group of IP hosts that share a common
IP network number and subnet mask, and they all
communicate with each other directly over ATM

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A logical IP subnet (LIS)

Group of host with the same network address We now replace the transport network
and same subnet mask with ATM switches
IP address:

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Computer Computer

Classical IP CIP CIP

ATM switch

IP packet IP packet




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• A LIS member has both an IP and an ATM

• IP addresses are resolved to ATM addresses using
the ATMARP protocol within the LIS (based on
• The inverse ATMARP (InATMARP) protocol is
used to resolve an ATM address to an IP address.
(It is similar to the inverseARP).

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The ATMARP server

• It maintains a table or a cache of IP and ATM

address mappings
• It learns about the IP and ATM addresses of the
LIS members (IP clients) through the messages
exchanged between ATMARP and the LIS hosts.
• It typically resides on an ATM switch. (An ATM
switch load commonly contains the ATMARP
server as well).

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ATMARP messages
• ATMARP_request: Used to request the ATMARP server
the ATM address of a destination IP client.
• ATMARP_reply: Used by the ATMARP server to respond
to an IP client with the destination ATM address.
• InATMARP_request: Sent from the ATMARP server to an
IP client to obtain its IP address.
• InATMARP_reply: This is the response from an IP client
with its IP address.
• ATMARP_NAK: Negative response issued by the
ATMARP server to a requesting IP client.
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• An IP client must first register its IP and ATM

addresses with the ATMARP server.
– The client establishes a connection to the ATMARP
server (it knows the ATMARP server’s ATM address).
– It then transmits an ATMARP_request, asking its own
ATM address.
– The ATMARP server checks against duplicate entries
in its table, time stamps the entry, adds it to its table,
and sends an ATMARP_reply. The entry is valid for a
minimum of 20 minutes and has to be refreshed.

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Address resolution
• An ATMARP client 1 can communicate with an
ATMARP client 2 immediately if it knows its
ATM address.
• If the destination ATM address is not known,
client 1 invokes the ATMARP process.
– It sends an ATMARP_request to the ATMARP server.
– If the server has the requested address in its table, it
returns an ATMARP_reply.
– Otherwise, it returns an ATMARP_NAK.

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