With Multilink fragmentation, the large datagram is fragmented ("chopped") into a number of small packet fragments, Multilink headers are added to the packet fragments, and the packet fragments are transmitted individually to a network peer.
When interleaving is enabled, the packet fragments are small enough so that the time it takes to transmit them does not exceed the time budgeted for transmitting the real-time (time-sensitive) data packet. The real-time data packets are interleaved between the fragments of the large datagram.
Each time Multilink prepares to send another data packet fragment or frame to the receiving network peer, Multilink first checks to see if a real-time (time-sensitive) packet has arrived in the transmit queue. If so, the high-priority packet is sent first before sending the next fragment from the large datagram.
The time delay before the priority packets arrive at the receiving network link is subject to the usual serialization delays at the network link level. That is, any other data already being transmitted has to be finished before the priority packet can be sent. By segmenting long datagrams into small fragments, and checking for newly arrived priority frames between fragments, the priority frame is delayed only by the time it takes to transmit a previously queued fragment rather than a complete large datagram.
Thus, the maximum size of the fragments dictates the responsiveness for insertion of priority packets into the stream. The fragment size can be tuned by adjusting the fragment delay with the
To ensure correct order of transmission and reassembly (which occurs later), multilink headers are added to the large datagram fragments after the packets are dequeued and ready to be sent.
The figure below is a simplified illustration of how Multilink fragments and interleaves packets.
Figure 1. Multilink Fragmentation and Interleaving
In the figure above, both IP voice packets and a large datagram arrive at the interface from a single network link. Your network may have multiple links. The IP voice packet and large datagram are queued according to their classification. The large datagram is fragmented (the IP voice packets are not). The IP voice packets are interleaved between the fragments of the large datagram, to which multilink headers are added.
Packets Dequeued and Transmitted
When the large datagram is dequeued, and space becomes available on a member link, Multilink takes a fragment from the original large datagram and transmits the fragments over that link. If an IP voice packet (or other real-time packet) arrives at the transmit queue before Multilink has completely sent the datagram fragment, the next time a link is available to send more packets, Multilink will dequeue and send the high-priority packet. The high-priority packet will be sent instead of another fragment from the large datagram.