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Difference Between Broadcast and Multicast

Last Updated : 25 Dec, 2023
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The world of computer networks has a variety of communication mechanisms and protocols that provide a set of guidelines and rules to be followed while transmitting data from one node to another. These mechanisms and protocols determine the efficiency and reliability of the inter-connected and intra-connected network systems. In this article, we’ll learn about the difference between two of the most commonly used message distribution mechanisms – Broadcast and Multicast, shedding light on the unique characteristics of both.

Broadcast and a Multicast are two different communication mechanism in computer networks for transmitting data between the nodes in a network.

1. Broadcast

Broadcast transfer (one-to-all) techniques and can be classified into two types : Limited Broadcasting and direct Broadcasting. In broadcasting mode, transmission happens from one host to all the other hosts connected on the LAN. In simple words, broadcasting is a communication mechanism where data is sent to all the nodes in a network. The broadcast address is a special reserved address bits for broadcasting messages in a network, we can calculate the broadcast address given its IP address and the subnet Mask.

Devices such as bridge uses this. A protocol like ARP implements this, in order to know the MAC address for the corresponding IP address of the host machine. ARP does IP address to MAC address translation. RARP does the reverse.

2. Multicast

Multicasting has one/more senders and one/more recipients participate in data transfer traffic. In multicasting traffic recline between the boundaries of unicast and broadcast. It server’s direct single copies of data streams and that are then simulated and routed to hosts that request it. IP multicast requires support of some other protocols such as IGMP (Internet Group Management Protocol), Multicast routing for its working. And also in Classful IP addressing Class D is reserved for multicast groups.

Difference Between Broadcast and Multicast

Broadcast Multicast
It has one sender and multiple receivers. It has one or more senders and multiple receivers.
It sent data from one device to all the other devices in a network. It sent data from one device to multiple devices.
It works on star and bus topology. It works on star, mesh, tree and hybrid topology.
It scale well across large networks. It does not scale well across large networks.
Its bandwidth is wasted. It utilizes bandwidth efficiently.
It has one-to-all mapping. It has one-to-many mapping.
Hub is an example of a broadcast device. Switch is an example of a multicast device.

It increases network traffic because the data packets are sent to every other node in the network

It doesn’t increase network traffic

The message to be sent should be tripled checked as some sensitive or confidential information shouldn’t be distributed to everyone in the network

No such issue, because the message is target to only selected people.

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