HDLC (High-Level Data Link Control)

High-Level Data Link Control (HDLC) is a bit-oriented code-transparent synchronous data link layer protocol developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The standard for HDLC is ISO/IEC 13239:2002.

HDLC provides both connection-oriented and connectionless service.

HDLC can be used for point-to-multipoint connections via the original master-slave modes Normal Response Mode (NRM) and Asynchronous Response Mode (ARM), but they are now rarely used; is now used almost exclusively to connect one device to another, using Asynchronous Balanced Mode (ABM).


HDLC frames can be transmitted over synchronous or asynchronous serial communication links. Those links have no mechanism to mark the beginning or end of a frame, so the beginning and end of each frame has to be identified. This is done by using a unique sequence of bits as a frame delimiter, or flag, and encoding the data to ensure that the flag sequence is never seen inside a frame. Each frame begins and ends with a frame delimiter. A frame delimiter at the end of a frame may also mark the start of the next frame.

On both synchronous and asynchronous links, the flag sequence is binary “01111110”, or hexadecimal 0x7E, but the details are quite different.

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