Within a single machine, each layer calls upon the services of the layer just below it. Layer 3, for example, uses the services provided by layer 2 and provides services for layer 4. Between machines, layer x on one machine communicates with layer x on another machine. This communication is governed by an agreed-upon series of rules and conventions called protocols. The processes on each machine that communicate at a given layer are called peer-to-peer processes. Communication between machines is therefore a peer-to-peer process using the protocols appropriate to a given layer.
At the physical layer, communication is direct as shown in the following Figure. Device A sends a stream of bits to device B (through intermediate nodes). At the higher layers, however, communication must move down through the layers on device A, over to device B, and then back up through the layers. Each layer in the sending device adds its own information to the message it receives from the layer just above it and passes the whole package to the layer just below it.
At layer I the entire package is converted to a form that can be transmitted to the receiving device. At the receiving machine, the message is unwrapped layer by layer, with each process receiving and removing the data meant for it. For example, layer 2 removes the data meant for it, and then passes the rest to layer 3. Layer 3 then removes the data meant for it and passes the rest to layer 4, and so on.
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