CDP is a device discovery protocol that runs over Layer 2 (the data-link layer) on all Cisco-manufactured devices (routers, bridges, access servers, controllers, and switches) and allows network management applications to discover Cisco devices that are neighbors of already known devices. With CDP, network management applications can learn the device type and the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) agent address of neighboring devices running lower-layer, transparent protocols. This feature enables applications to send SNMP queries to neighboring devices.
CDP runs on all media that support Subnetwork Access Protocol (SNAP). Because CDP runs over the data-link layer only, two systems that support different network-layer protocols can learn about each other.
Each CDP-configured device sends periodic messages to a multicast address, advertising at least one address at which it can receive SNMP messages. The advertisements also contain time-to-live, or holdtime information, which is the length of time a receiving device holds CDP information before discarding it. Each device also listens to the messages sent by other devices to learn about neighboring devices.
On the switch, CDP enables Network Assistant to display a graphical view of the network. The switch uses CDP to find cluster candidates and maintain information about cluster members and other devices up to three cluster-enabled devices away from the command switch by default.