TCP uses Sliding Window mechanism at octet level. The window size can be variable over time. This is achieved by utilizing the concept of “Window Advertisement” based on :
1. Buffer availabilty at the receiver
2. Network conditions (traffic load etc.)
In the former case receiver varies its window size depending upon the space available in its buffers. The window is referred as RECEIVE WINDOW (Recv_Win). When receiver buffer begin to fill it advertises a small Recv_Win so that the sender does’nt send more data than it can accept. If all buffers are full receiver sends a “Zero” size advertisement. It stops all transmission. When buffers become available receiver advertises a Non Zero widow to resume retransmission. The sender also periodically probes the “Zero” window to avoid any deadlock if the Non Zero Window advertisement from receiver is lost. The Variable size Recv_Win provides efficient end to end flow control. The second case arises when some intermediate node ( e.g. a router ) controls the source to reduce transmission rate. Here another window referred as CONGESTION WINDOW (C_Win) is utilized. Advertisement of C_Win helps to check and avoid congestion.