Networking: Back to basics

    Date19 Sep 2006
    5733
    Posted ByBrittany Day
    If you were to line up a hub, a switch and a router next to one another, at first glance you might think they look pretty much the same. While they do have some basic functionality in common, they are in fact very different beasts. If you can't tell your routers from your hubs, please read on -- this column is for you.

    Let's start at the bottom of the networking food chain - the hub. This basic device joins network computers together to form a single network segment. They're called hubs because they sit at the centre of a network, connecting to PCs via cables that radiate out, similar to wheel spokes. All the computers on a network segment are able to 'see' and communicate with one another. To get techie, hubs are Layer 1 devices in the OSI (Open System Interconnection) networking model. A hub simply receives incoming network data (known as frames) and broadcasts them back out to all the attached devices on the network, which includes, somewhat redundantly, the one that originally sent the frame. Because the hub lacks any sort of intelligence, it doesn't know which specific port a frame ought to be sent to.

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