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Spanning Tree Topology (STP) Convergence

Last Updated : 20 Jul, 2022
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Once the Spanning Tree Topology (STP) is established, STP continues to work until some changes occurs. Manual changes that Network Engineer can apply are configuration of Bridge ID and port costs. Also there are other changes like the addition of switch or failure of port of an existing switch. The reaction of STP when some changes occurs by reconfiguration of status (forwarding/blocking) of various port/interface is called STP Convergence. 
Port Costs according to IEEE :

Ethernet Speed IEEE Cost
10 Mbps 2, 000, 000
100 Mbps 200, 000
1 Gbps 20, 000
10 Gbps 2, 000
100 Gbps 200
1 Tbps 20

Steady State Operation of STP :

  • A Hello BPDU is created and send from all working interface of Root switch having root cost of 0.
  • All Non-root switch receive Hello BPDU by adding their BID as sender’s BID and root cost. Now they send Hello BPDU from their designated ports.
  • Above two processes repeats until some changes occurs.

Reaction of Switches to changes in STP topology : Before we proceed to how switches react, it is important to know some timers used by Spanning Tree Protocol. STP Timers :

Timer Default Value Description
Hello 2 seconds Time between two consecutive Hello BPDU created by root switch.
MaxAge 10*Hello time Max time a switch must wait if no Hello received before proceeding to do change.
Forward Delay 15 seconds Time taken by switch to change status of ports from forwarding to blocking and vice-versa.

The reaction of switches are :

  • When a switch does not get expected Hello within Hello time, it continues to work as normal and wait until MaxAge time.
  • Switch waits for MaxAge time if Hello BPDU is received within MaxAge time, switch consider it as some delay in network and continues as before. If not then switch and start changing their topology.
  • Now the status of different ports may change according to new topology adopted by STP. Ports may change their status from forwarding to blocking and vice-versa. But this port status process changing does not do immediately, it goes through two intermediate states i.e, Listening and Learning states.
  • The change of state from blocking to forwarding along with intermediate listening and learning state is bounded by the time of Forward Delay.

Spanning Tree States :

State Data frame forwarding Learning MAC-Address of received frame Nature of State
Blocking No No Stable
Listening No No Transitory
Learning No Yes Transitory
Forwarding Yes Yes Stable
Disabled No No Stable


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