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5.1 RTP Fixed Header Fields Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
5.1 RTP Fixed Header Fields

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5.1 RTP Fixed Header Fields

5.1 RTP Fixed Header Fields

The RTP header has the following format:

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   |V=2|P|X|  CC   |M|     PT      |       sequence number         |
   |                           timestamp                           |
   |           synchronization source (SSRC) identifier            |
   |            contributing source (CSRC) identifiers             |
   |                             ....                              |

The first twelve octets are present in every RTP packet, while the list of CSRC identifiers is present only when inserted by a mixer. The fields have the following meaning:

version (V): 2 bits
This field identifies the version of RTP. The version defined by this specification is two (2). (The value 1 is used by the first draft version of RTP and the value 0 is used by the protocol initially implemented in the "vat" audio tool.)

padding (P): 1 bit
If the padding bit is set, the packet contains one or more additional padding octets at the end which are not part of the payload. The last octet of the padding contains a count of how many padding octets should be ignored. Padding may be needed by some encryption algorithms with fixed block sizes or for carrying several RTP packets in a lower-layer protocol data unit.

extension (X): 1 bit
If the extension bit is set, the fixed header is followed by exactly one header extension, with a format defined in Section 5.3.1.

CSRC count (CC): 4 bits
The CSRC count contains the number of CSRC identifiers that follow the fixed header.

marker (M): 1 bit
The interpretation of the marker is defined by a profile. It is intended to allow significant events such as frame boundaries to be marked in the packet stream. A profile may define additional marker bits or specify that there is no marker bit by changing the number of bits in the payload type field (see Section 5.3).

payload type (PT): 7 bits
This field identifies the format of the RTP payload and determines its interpretation by the application. A profile specifies a default static mapping of payload type codes to payload formats. Additional payload type codes may be defined dynamically through non-RTP means (see Section 3). An initial set of default mappings for audio and video is specified in the companion profile Internet-Draft draft-ietf-avt-profile, and may be extended in future editions of the Assigned Numbers RFC [6]. An RTP sender emits a single RTP payload type at any given time; this field is not intended for multiplexing separate media streams (see Section 5.2).

sequence number: 16 bits
The sequence number increments by one for each RTP data packet sent, and may be used by the receiver to detect packet loss and to restore packet sequence. The initial value of the sequence number is random (unpredictable) to make known-plaintext attacks on encryption more difficult, even if the source itself does not encrypt, because the packets may flow through a translator that does. Techniques for choosing unpredictable numbers are discussed in [7].

timestamp: 32 bits
The timestamp reflects the sampling instant of the first octet in the RTP data packet. The sampling instant must be derived from a clock that increments monotonically and linearly in time to allow synchronization and jitter calculations (see Section 6.3.1). The resolution of the clock must be sufficient for the desired synchronization accuracy and for measuring packet arrival jitter (one tick per video frame is typically not sufficient). The clock frequency is dependent on the format of data carried as payload and is specified statically in the profile or payload format specification that defines the format, or may be specified dynamically for payload formats defined through non-RTP means. If RTP packets are generated periodically, the nominal sampling instant as determined from the sampling clock is to be used, not a reading of the system clock. As an example, for fixed-rate audio the timestamp clock would likely increment by one for each sampling period. If an audio application reads blocks covering 160 sampling periods from the input device, the timestamp would be increased by 160 for each such block, regardless of whether the block is transmitted in a packet or dropped as silent.

The initial value of the timestamp is random, as for the sequence number. Several consecutive RTP packets may have equal timestamps if they are (logically) generated at once, e.g., belong to the same video frame. Consecutive RTP packets may contain timestamps that are not monotonic if the data is not transmitted in the order it was sampled, as in the case of MPEG interpolated video frames. (The sequence numbers of the packets as transmitted will still be monotonic.)

SSRC: 32 bits
The SSRC field identifies the synchronization source. This identifier is chosen randomly, with the intent that no two synchronization sources within the same RTP session will have the same SSRC identifier. An example algorithm for generating a random identifier is presented in Appendix A.6. Although the probability of multiple sources choosing the same identifier is low, all RTP implementations must be prepared to detect and resolve collisions. Section 8 describes the probability of collision along with a mechanism for resolving collisions and detecting RTP-level forwarding loops based on the uniqueness of the SSRC identifier. If a source changes its source transport address, it must also choose a new SSRC identifier to avoid being interpreted as a looped source.

CSRC list: 0 to 15 items, 32 bits each
The CSRC list identifies the contributing sources for the payload contained in this packet. The number of identifiers is given by the CC field. If there are more than 15 contributing sources, only 15 may be identified. CSRC identifiers are inserted by mixers, using the SSRC identifiers of contributing sources. For example, for audio packets the SSRC identifiers of all sources that were mixed together to create a packet are listed, allowing correct talker indication at the receiver.

Next: 5.2 Multiplexing RTP Sessions

Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
5.1 RTP Fixed Header Fields


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