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  1. Introduction
  2. Network Model
  3. Topology
  4. Physical Media
  5. Wireless Media
  6. Network Card
  7. Modems
  8. Outside Connections
  9. Wide Area Network Connections
  10. Repeaters, Bridges, Routers
  11. Network Types
  12. Ethernet
  13. Token Ring
  14. ARCnet
  15. AppleTalk
  16. FDDI
  17. Architecture Comparisons
  18. Categories
  19. TCP/IP
  20. IPX/SPX
  21. NetBEUI
  22. AppleTalk
  23. SNA
  24. Others
  25. Suites and Network Layers
  26. Installing Drivers
  27. DNS
  28. Network Operating Systems
  29. Applications, mail, groupware, DBMS
  30. Backing up the network
  31. Troubleshooting
  32. Web, SNMP, admin, firewalls
  33. Networking Terms and Definitions
  34. Credits

Network Devices

Routers, brouters, and gateways are inter-networking devices used for connecting different networks.

Repeaters

A repeater connects two segments of your network cable. It re times and regenerates the signals to proper amplitudes and sends them to the other segments. When talking about, ethernet topology, you are probably talking about using a hub as a repeater. Repeaters require a small amount of time to regenerate the signal. This can cause a propagation delay which can affect network communication when there are several repeaters in a row. Many network architectures limit the number of repeaters that can be used in a row. Repeaters work only at the physical layer of the OSI network model.

Bridges

A bridge reads the outermost section of data on the data packet, to tell where the message is going. It reduces the traffic on other network segments, since it does not send all packets. Bridges can be programmed to reject packets from particular networks. Bridging occurs at the data link layer of the OSI model, which means the bridge cannot read IP addresses, but only the outermost hardware address of the packet. In our case the bridge can read the ethernet data which gives the hardware address of the destination address, not the IP address. Bridges forward all broadcast messages. Only a special bridge called a translation bridge will allow two networks of different architectures to be connected. Bridges do not normally allow connection of networks with different architectures. The hardware address is also called the MAC (media access control) address. To determine the network segment a MAC address belongs to, bridges use one of:

  • Transparent Bridging - They build a table of addresses (bridging table) as they receive packets. If the address is not in the bridging table, the packet is forwarded to all segments other than the one it came from. This type of bridge is used on ethernet networks.
  • Source route bridging - The source computer provides path information inside the packet. This is used on Token Ring networks.

Routers

A router is used to route data packets between two networks. It reads the information in each packet to tell where it is going. If it is destined for an immediate network it has access to, it will strip the outer packet (IP packet for example), readdress the packet to the proper ethernet address, and transmit it on that network. If it is destined for another network and must be sent to another router, it will re-package the outer packet to be received by the next router and send it to the next router. Routing occurs at the network layer of the OSI model. They can connect networks with different architectures such as Token Ring and Ethernet. Although they can transform information at the data link level, routers cannot transform information from one data format such as TCP/IP to another such as IPX/SPX. Routers do not send broadcast packets or corrupted packets. If the routing table does not indicate the proper address of a packet, the packet is discarded. There are two types of routers:

  1. Static routers - Are configured manually and route data packets based on information in a router table.
  2. Dynamic routers - Use dynamic routing algorithms. There are two types of algorithms:
    • Distance vector - Based on hop count, and periodically broadcasts the routing table to other routers which takes more network bandwidth especially with more routers. RIP uses distance vectoring. Does not work on WANs as well as it does on LANs.
    • Link state - Routing tables are broadcast at startup and then only when they change. The open shortest path first (OSPF) protocol uses the link state routing method to configure routes or distance vector algorithm (DVA).

Common routing protocols include:

  • IS-IS -Intermediate system to intermediate system which is a routing protocol for the OSI suite of protocols.
  • IPX - Internet Packet Exchange. Used on Netware systems.
  • NLSP - Netware Link Services protocol - Uses OSPF algorithm and is replacing IPX to provide internet capability.
  • RIP - Routing information protocol uses a distance vector algorithm.

There is a device called a brouter which will function similar to a bridge for network transport protocols that are not routable, and will function as a router for routable protocols. It functions at the network and data link layers of the OSI network model.

Gateways

A gateway can translate information between different network data formats or network architectures. It can translate TCP/IP to AppleTalk so computers supporting TCP/IP can communicate with Apple brand computers. Most gateways operate at the application layer, but can operate at the network or session layer of the OSI model. Gateways will start at the lower level and strip information until it gets to the required level and repackage the information and work its way back toward the hardware layer of the OSI model. To confuse issues, when talking about a router that is used to interface to another network, the word gateway is often used. This does not mean the routing machine is a gateway as defined here, although it could be.