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Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) and its types

Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) is a communication protocol used to find the MAC (Media Access Control) address of a device from its IP address. This protocol is used when a device wants to communicate with another device on a Local Area Network or Ethernet.

Types of ARP

There are four types of Address Resolution Protocol, which is given below:

  • Proxy ARP
  • Gratuitous ARP
  • Reverse ARP (RARP)
  • Inverse ARP
Address Resolution Protocol (ARP)

Proxy ARP - Proxy ARP is a method through which a Layer 3 devices may respond to ARP requests for a target that is in a different network from the sender. The Proxy ARP configured router responds to the ARP and map the MAC address of the router with the target IP address and fool the sender that it is reached at its destination.

At the backend, the proxy router sends its packets to the appropriate destination because the packets contain the necessary information.

Example - If Host A wants to transmit data to Host B, which is on the different network, then Host A sends an ARP request message to receive a MAC address for Host B. The router responds to Host A with its own MAC address pretend itself as a destination. When the data is transmitted to the destination by Host A, it will send to the gateway so that it sends to Host B. This is known as proxy ARP.

Gratuitous ARP - Gratuitous ARP is an ARP request of the host that helps to identify the duplicate IP address. It is a broadcast request for the IP address of the router. If an ARP request is sent by a switch or router to get its IP address and no ARP responses are received, so all other nodes cannot use the IP address allocated to that switch or router. Yet if a router or switch sends an ARP request for its IP address and receives an ARP response, another node uses the IP address allocated to the switch or router.

There are some primary use cases of gratuitous ARP that are given below:

  • The gratuitous ARP is used to update the ARP table of other devices.
  • It also checks whether the host is using the original IP address or a duplicate one.

Reverse ARP (RARP) - It is a networking protocol used by the client system in a local area network (LAN) to request its IPv4 address from the ARP gateway router table. A table is created by the network administrator in the gateway-router that is used to find out the MAC address to the corresponding IP address.

When a new system is set up or any machine that has no memory to store the IP address, then the user has to find the IP address of the device. The device sends a RARP broadcast packet, including its own MAC address in the address field of both the sender and the receiver hardware. A host installed inside of the local network called the RARP-server is prepared to respond to such type of broadcast packet. The RARP server is then trying to locate a mapping table entry in the IP to MAC address. If any entry matches the item in the table, then the RARP server sends the response packet along with the IP address to the requesting computer.

Inverse ARP (InARP) - Inverse ARP is inverse of the ARP, and it is used to find the IP addresses of the nodes from the data link layer addresses. These are mainly used for the frame relays, and ATM networks, where Layer 2 virtual circuit addressing are often acquired from Layer 2 signaling. When using these virtual circuits, the relevant Layer 3 addresses are available.

ARP conversions Layer 3 addresses to Layer 2 addresses. However, its opposite address can be defined by InARP. The InARP has a similar packet format as ARP, but operational codes are different.


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