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Why would you need to send multiple different heartbeats over one connection? It's for keeping the connection alive.

If you are using data-grams (i.e., UDP) you have no guarantees of ordering or delivery, so you have no way to determine which transmission the echo reply you just received corresponds to without a payload that is returned to you.

Now, a 64kbyte payload, that's unnecessary for simply making each packet unique. That size was likely chosen to allow for the path MTU discovery aspects.

One could argue, however, that "keepalive" and "path MTU discovery" should not have been commingled, but they were.

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