What is Network Hardware and How Does It Work?

Network hardware is the individual components of a network system that are responsible for transmitting data and facilitating the operations of a computer network. Although a network contains many hardware components, there are several basic categories that make up the complete operations of a network system. Here are some of the different categories and how they contribute as a whole to the overall functioning of a network system.

Categories of Different Network Hardware

Basic network infrastructure is connected by components that fall under several categories of different types of network hardware.

  • Network Router: A network router is a hardware device that is connected to multiple channels for different networks through an interface that is situated on each network. The router is usually located within the layers of a network that determine the path for the transfer of data with the router acting as a processing unit for information packets. The router duplicates information packets for use during transmission from one network to another. The router uses a specific protocol or set of rules to determine which information packets are to be routed to certain interfaces within the network. Different types of routers perform different functions depending upon the requirements of the network system.
  • Network Interface Card: Network interface cards are used to connect each computer to the network so they can communicate with the network router to receive information packets. The interface cards determine the infrastructure of a local area network (LAN) and allow all of the computers to connect to the network. There are many different types of network interface cards that perform different functions within the network which include Ethernet cards and wireless network interface cards.
  • Network Switches: Network switches work similar to routers because they both copy information from one area of the network to the other. However, network switches contain multiple ports for copying frames of information from one port to the other. Like routers, switches operate within the layers of a network and evaluate every frame before determining the port in which the frame should be copied. Network switches are more sophisticated then their predecessor the network hub, which copied all frames to all ports instead of determining individual destinations. This required more bandwidth than what is required with network switches.
  • Network Bridge: A network bridge divides traffic on a local area network by separating the LAN into several different segments. It is also responsible for filtering data by determining the data destination or discarding unnecessary data. Network bridges operate within the layers of the network and also control the data that crosses the boundaries from one local area network to the other.
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