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Minimum and maximum Ethernet frame sizes

In this Q&A, our network administration expert addresses Ethernet frame sizes, as well as minimum and maximum sizes of Ethernet frames that carry IP and ICMP.

QUESTION: What is the size of an Ethernet frame? What's the minimum size of an Ethernet frame that carries an IP packet which in turn carries an ICMP packet? What is the maximum size?

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The original Ethernet IEEE 802.3 standard defined the minimum Ethernet frame size as 64 bytes and the maximum as 1518 bytes. The maximum was later increased to 1522 bytes to allow for VLAN tagging.

The minimum size of an Ethernet frame that carries an ICMP packet is 74 bytes. You can test this by installing a packet analyzer on your desktop and by running a ping packet with no options to a destination inside your network. It will generate a 74 byte packet with a 60 byte IP Header, 8 byte ICMP header, and Ethernet frame size. The maximum size supported is where you can adjust the data options in the ICMP payload to add additional length to the packet. This would be limited by the MTU which in an Ethernet LAN would be 1500 bytes by default.

This was first published in October 2008

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