Networking devices, also known as networking hardware, are physical devices required for communication and interaction between hardware within a computer network. The most common network devices include hubs, switches, routers, bridges, gateways, modems, repeaters, and access points. In this blog, we will cover each network device and its greater role within a network.
A hub is a device used to connect multiple network devices together. It also acts as a repeater in the sense that it amplifies signals that would otherwise deteriorate after traveling long distances over connecting cables. It is the simplest of all network connecting devices, connecting LAN components with identical protocols. A hub is compatible with both digital and analog data, provided its settings have been configured to prepare for the format of any incoming data. For example, if incoming data is digital, the hub must be configured to pass it on as packets. If it is analog, the hub passes it on in the form of a signal. Hubs do not perform filtering or addressing functions, they simply send data to all connected devices.
Switches are multiport devices used to improve a network’s efficiency. Switches maintain limited routing information about nodes in the internal network and allow connections to systems like hubs or routers. Switches typically read the hardware address of incoming packets and direct them to the relevant destination. Switches improve network efficiency more than hubs due to their virtual circuit capability, because virtual circuits are more difficult for network monitors to examine. In many ways, a switch is like a combination of a router and hub. In fact, multilayer switches are switches that can operate both as a switch and a router.
The next device is the router. Routers help transmit data by charting a path through the interconnected networking devices via different network topologies. Routers are intelligent devices, capable of storing information pertaining to the networks they are a part of. They are also used to divide internal networks into two or more subnetworks. Furthermore, routers can be connected to other routers to create zones that operate independently of the rest of the network. They establish communication by maintaining tables about destinations and local connections. Routers are something of a first line of defense, and must be configured such that they only let authorized data to pass through the network.
A bridge is used to connect two or more hosts or network segments. In network architecture, the basic role of bridges is storing and forwarding frames between the segments connected by the bridge. Bridges use hardware called Media Access Control (MAC) addresses to transfer frames. By analyzing the MAC address of the device connected to each segment, bridges can either forward the data or block it. Bridges are similar to hubs, especially in that they connect LAN components with identical protocols. However, bridges also filter incoming data packets, called frames, before they are forwarded. In newer technologies, bridges have largely been replaced by switches, which offer more capabilities.
A gateway works at the transport and session layer of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model. At the transport layer and above, there is a broad range of protocols and standards from different vendors; gateways are used to deal with these. A gateway provides translation between networking technologies such as OSI and Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). As such, gateways are able to connect two or more autonomous networks each with its own routing algorithms, protocols, topology, domain name service, and network administration procedures and policies. Gateways are able to perform all the functions of a router in addition to others. A router with added translation functionality is effectively a gateway.
A modem, or modulator-demodulator, is used to transmit digital signals over analog telephone lines. Therefore, digital signals are converted by the modem into analog signals of differing frequencies and transmitted to a modem at the receiving location. The receiving modem performs the reverse transformation and provides a digital output to a connected device, typically a computer. The data is transferred to and from the modem via a serial line through an industry standard interface. Many telephone companies offer DSL services, while many cable operators use modems as end terminals for identification and recognition of home and personal users. Modems work on two layers: physical and data link.
Repeaters are electronic devices that amplify a signal it receives. Repeaters can be thought of as a device that receives a signal and retransmits it at a higher level or power. This allows the signal to cover longer distances, more than 100 meters in the case of standard LAN cables. Repeaters work on the physical layer.
An access point works at the second OSI layer and data link layer where it can operate both as a bridge connecting a wired network to a wireless device or as a router passing data transmissions from one access point to another. Wireless access points consist of a transmitter and receiver device to create a wireless LAN (WLAN). Access points are usually independent network devices with a built-in antenna, transmitter, and adapter. They use the wireless infrastructure to offer a connection point between WLANs and a wired Ethernet LAN. Access points can also provide many ports to increase the overall size of a network, its firewall capabilities, and its Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) service.
A good understanding of the types of network devices available can be a major help in designing a network tailored to your unique needs. At Purchasing 3Sixty, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find all types of networking devices in addition to many other parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense, electronics, and IT hardware markets. Dedicated account managers are always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1-434-321-4470.
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