Service data unit

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In Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) terminology, a service data unit (SDU) is a unit of data that has been passed down from an OSI layer or sublayer to a lower layer. This unit of data (SDU) has not yet been encapsulated into a protocol data unit (PDU) by the lower layer. That SDU is then encapsulated into the lower layer's PDU and the process continues until reaching the PHY, physical, or lowest layer of the OSI stack.

The SDU can also be thought of as a set of data that is sent by a user of the services of a given layer, and is transmitted semantically unchanged to a peer service user.

It differs from a PDU in that the PDU specifies the data that will be sent to the peer protocol layer at the receiving end, as opposed to being sent to a lower layer.

The SDU at any given layer (n), is the PDU of the layer above (n+1). In effect the SDU is the 'payload' of a given PDU. The layer (n-1) adds headers or footers, or both, to the SDU. The added headers or footers are part of the process used to make it possible to get data from a source to a destination.

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