The Layer 2 broadcast is the destination address of the Layer 2 package is FF-FF-FF-FF-FF-FF.

I have a question about the broadcast MAC address.

you see the ARP request, it send the destination MAC address to the broadcast.

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I have questions about it:

  1. Who the actual star of the broadcast MAC address? is it a router ? or a switch?
  2. You see in the LAN, the ARP request send 6 times, I opened one( Why the broadcast only send 6 times rather than 256 times(/24)?


Thanks for response, and you see literally "everyone on this broadcast domain", if this is a /8 segment, whether it will literally so many addresses? or it will only traversal the addresses in the LAN?

I mean if there only,, in the LAN, if send data to ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff, will it traversal the other two addresses, or from the to

  • It may help you to remember that a MAC broadcast is a layer 2 function. Every host in the layer 2 domain will receive the broadcast. It does not matter what IP address they are configured with. – Ron Trunk Sep 4 '19 at 12:00
  • Do not mix up the network layers. Sending a layer-2 frame to the layer-2 broadcast address will deliver the frame to every host in the broadcast domain. If the layer-3 address is a unicast address, then every host except the one with that address will drop it. Broadcasting is wasteful of host resources and network bandwidth, so it was removed from IP with IPv6. – Ron Maupin Sep 4 '19 at 12:01
  • it's "everyone on this broadcast domain". The expansion of the broadcast domain is a question of Layer 2 design (as in: how large is your switching domain, and how far does the given VLAN stretch?), largely unrelated to the IP subnet you chose for it. Even if you deployed the IP subnet for the given broadcast domain as /8 (not the best of ideas, anyway), the underlying Layer 2 infrastructure will at most have a few hundred ports. So your most certainly hierarchical switching infrastructure will only have to create a total of a few 100 copies of that broadcast frame. – Marc 'netztier' Luethi Sep 4 '19 at 14:04
  • ... but these copies are not sent to hosts individually. In case of an ARP broadcast, MAC DstAddr remains ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff, IP DstAddr remains The broadcast frame just gets flooded out of all ports (read up about flood & learn behaviour of switches). Other protocols than ARP talk to the local subnet broadcast address (the last address of the Subnet), in such a case, the MAC DstAddr is ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff, the IP DstAddr is, for example. – Marc 'netztier' Luethi Sep 4 '19 at 14:41
  • Did any answer help you? If so, you should accept the answer so that the question doesn't keep popping up forever, looking for an answer. Alternatively, you can provide and accept your own answer. – Ron Maupin Dec 15 '19 at 18:49

ARP is used to resolve an IP address to the required MAC address for L2 transport. Since the destination MAC is yet unknown it is sent as L2 broadcast.

If the ARP request fails (timeout) most hosts repeat it once or twice. It is possible and quite common that the higher-layer protocol retries as well, repeating the resulting 1-3 ARP requests multiple times as well.

Since ARP requests are broadcast all that is completely independent from the subnet size.

The (limited) broadcast reaches every node in the local L2 segment - it's simply flooded by each switch to all of its port (but the one it was received on). This is true even when there are multiple IP subnets within that L2 same segment.

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  • is the router host the broadcast address? – 244boy Sep 4 '19 at 8:09
  • @244boy no, not the router. The destination address ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff is literally "everyone on this broadcast domain". An ARP broadcast is like shouting into the LAN _"Hey everybody on this subnet, I need to talk to IP address ip.ip.ip.ip and I want to know the MAC address of the system with that MAC address!" and usually, the system having that IP address will respond. Switches will copy and send this broadcast out of all ports of the (V)LAN, to make sure that the broadcast reaches all end systems. – Marc 'netztier' Luethi Sep 4 '19 at 11:28
  • Thanks for your response, but I still have a question, see my EDIT-01. – 244boy Sep 4 '19 at 11:56

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