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A computer network is an interconnection of a group of computers. Networks may
be classified by what is called the network layer at which they operate according to
basic reference models considered as standards in the industry such as the four-
layer Internet Protocol Suite model. While the seven-layer Open Systems
Interconnection (OSI) reference model is better known in academia, the majority
of networks use the Internet Protocol Suite (IP) as their network model.

A NETWORK is a set of devices connected by media links. A Node

can be computer, printer or any other device Capable of sending and or receiving
data generated by Other nodes of the network. The links connecting the Devices
are often called Communication channels. A network is two or more computer and
their associated peripheral connected by a communication medium.

In computer world the term network describes two or more networks that are
linked in order to share resources, exchange files or allow electronic
communications. The computers on a networks may be linked through cables,
telephone lines, radio waves, satellites or infrared light beams.

Why do we need computer network?

 Resource sharing

 High reliability

 Saving money

 Communication medium

The most common classification of networks are:
• Local Area Network (LAN)
• Wide Area Network (WAN)


A Local Area Network(LAN) is a network that is confined to a relatively small
area. It is generally limited to a geographic area such as a lab, school or building .

In a typical LAN configuration, one computer is designated as a server.It stores all

the softwares that controls the network, as well as the software that can be shared
by the computers attached to the network.Computers connected to the server are
called workstations . The workstations can be less powerful than servers,and they
may have additional softwares on their hard drives. On most LAN cables are used
to connect the network interface cards in each computer.


• Now an essential part of everyday functioning in schools, business,

government etc

• Saves time, resources, allows information to be held securely and centrally

• Improves collaboration between colleagues

• May be used for training – capable of carrying audio and video

• Several devices connected via cable to a hub

• Hubs are the most common device found on a network

• Some organisations will have LANs on each floor of a building connected

by a bridge or router

• All devices on the LAN communicate via network interface cards (NICs)


Wide Area Network(WAN) connect larger geographic areas such as different

states,india or the world.Dedicated transoceanic cabling or satellite uplinks may be
used to connect this type of network .Usually the time when routers come into
picture of LAN it becomes a WAN.

Network topology is the study of the arrangement or mapping of the
elements of a network, especially the physical and logical interconnections
between nodes . A local area network (LAN) is one example of a network that
exhibits both a physical topology and a logical topology. Any given node in the
LAN will have one or more links to one or more other nodes in the network and
the mapping of these links and nodes onto a graph results in a geometrical shape
that determines the physical topology of the network.







A repeater is an electronic device that receives a signal and retransmits it

at a higher level or higher power, or onto the other side of an obstruction, so
that the signal can cover longer distances without degradation.


An network hub or concentrator is a device for connecting multiple twisted

pair or fiber optic Ethernet devices together, making them act as a single network
segment. Hubs work at the physical layer (layer 1) of the OSI model is often used.
The device is thus a form of multiport repeater. Network hubs are also responsible
for forwarding a jam signal to all ports if it detects a collision.

The network switch, packet switch plays an integral part in most

Ethernet local area networks or LANs. Mid-to-large sized LANs contain a
number of linked managed switches. Small Office, Home Office (SOHO)
applications typically use a single switch, or an all-purpose converged
device such as gateway access to small office/home office broadband
services such as DSL router or cable, WiFi router. In most of these cases, the
end user device contains a router and components that interface to the
particular physical broadband technology, as in the Linksys 8-port and 48-
port devices. User devices may also include a telephone interface to VoIP.

A router is a computer whose software and hardware are usually tailored to
the tasks of routing and forwarding, generally containing a specialized
operating system. Routers connect with two or more logical subnets, which
do not necessarily map one-to-one to the physical interfaces of the router.[1]
The term layer 3 switch often is used interchangeably with router, but switch
is really a marketing term without a rigorous technical definition. In
marketing usage, it is generally optimized for Ethernet LAN interfaces and
may not have other physical interface types. Routers are like junctions
whereas subnets are like streets and hosts like houses.


• Direct signal traffic efficiently.

• Route data between any two protocols

• Route data between linear bus,star and ring topologies

• Route data across fibre optic, coaxial and twisted pair cabling.
FIG: A demonstration of a router forwarding information to many clients.


1. Network Adapters

• Receive data and convert it into electrical signals

• Receive electrical signals and convert them into data

• Determine if the data received is for a particular computer

• Control the flow of data through the cable.
2. Media types
The Open Systems Interconnection Basic Reference Model (OSI Reference Model
or OSI Model for short) is a layered, abstract description for communications and
computer network protocol design, developed as part of the Open Systems
Interconnection (OSI) initiative. It is also called the OSI seven layer model. The
layers, described below, are, from top to bottom, Application, Presentation,
Session, Transport, Network, Data Link, and Physical. A layer is a collection of
related functions that provides services to the layer above it and receives service
from the layer below it. For example, a layer that provides error-free
communications across a network provides the path needed by applications above
it, while it calls the next lower layer to send and receive packets that make up the
contents of the path.

FIG:Headers and Data Can Be Encapsulated During Information Exchange

TCP/IP is a suite of protocols, also known as the Internet Protocol Suite. It should
not be confused with the OSI reference model, although elements of TCP/IP exist
in OSI. The transmission control protocol and the internet protocol are
fundamental to the suite, hence the TCP/IP title. The suite was originally
developed for the US Department of Defense Advanced Research Project Agency
(DARPA) network, but it is now the basis for the Internet and many intranets -
such as the Faculty of Information Technology intranet at the University of
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a network protocol used to transfer data from one
computer to another through a network such as the Internet.

FTP is a file transfer protocol for exchanging and manipulating files over a TCP
computer network. A FTP client may connect to a FTP server to manipulate files on that

Unique IP (Internet Protocol) addresses are assigned to each physical connection of
a device to a network, therefore if a device (host) has more than one connection to
a network or networks, then it will have more than one IP address.

An IP address is represented as four decimal integers, with each integer

corresponding to one byte this means an IP address is 32 bits long as per the
following example:-
162. 146. 93. 14 dotted decimal

10100010. 10010010. 01011101. 00001110 binary

IP addresses are divided into two parts, a Network ID and a Host ID each of which
can be of varying bit lengths but always making 32 bits altogether.

There are five primary classes of IP addresses and it is the high order 3 bits of the
address which identify the class as shown below:-

First Octet Example Network Host

Class A 0xxxxxxx 1-127 1

Class B 10xxxxxx 128-191 1

Class C 110xxxxx 192-223 1

• Class A addresses contain 7 bits in the network portion giving 27 - 2 = 126

possible networks since all 1's and all 0's are not allowed. Consequently 24
bits remain for the host portion allowing a total of 224 - 2 = 16,777,214
hosts. is reserved for loopback address purposes where just is used normally. The address is used as
broadcast addresses and as a default route address, meaning any
network. The address is sometimes used by hosts that have yet to
receive an IP address e.g. a DHCP Client awaiting an address from the
DHCP server.

• Class B addresses contain 14 bits in the network portion allowing 214 - 2 =

16,384 possible networks, and 16 bits for the host portion allowing a
possible total number of 216 - 2 = 65,534 hosts.

• Class C addresses contain 21 bits for the network portion giving a possible
total of 221 - 2 = 2,097,152 networks, and 8 bits for the host portion giving a
possible 28 - 2 = 254 hosts. .

The subnet mask specifies the portion of the IP address that is going to be used for
subnetworks (as opposed to hosts). For every bit position in the IP address that is
part of the network ID or subnetwork ID, a '1' is set, and for every bit position in
the IP address that is part of the host id portion, a '0' is set. The router uses the
boolean AND operation with an incoming IP address to 'lose' the host portion of
the IP address i.e. the bits that are '0', and match the network portion with its
routing table. From this, the router can determine out of which interface to send the
datagram. This means that the 'Don't care bits' are represented by binary 0's whilst
the 'Do care bits' are represented by binary 1's.

For our example above, because we used the first three bits in octet 3 for our
subnet addressing the subnet mask would be:

Octet 1 Octet 2 Octet 3 Octet 4

11111111 11111111 11100000 00000000

255. 255. 224. 0

What is important is that the same mask is applied throughout the physical
networks that share the same subnet part of the IP address. All devices connected
to the networks that compose the subnet must have the same mask.

Computer hardware is the physical part of a computer, including the digital
circuitry, as distinguished from the computer software that executes within the
hardware. The hardware of a computer is infrequently changed, in comparison with
software and data, which are "soft" in the sense that they are readily created,
modified or erased on the computer. Firmware is a special type of software that
rarely, if ever, needs to be changed and so is stored on hardware devices such as
read-only memory (ROM) where it is not readily changed .

Most computer hardware is not seen by normal users. It is in embedded

systems in automobiles, microwave ovens, electrocardiograph machines, compact
disc players, and other devices. Personal computers, the computer hardware
familiar to most people, form only a small minority of computers (about 0.2% of
all new computers produced in 2003.



• Motherboard - It is the "body" or mainframe of the

computer, through which all other components interface.
• Central processing unit (CPU) - Performs most of the
calculations which enable a computer to function, sometimes
referred to as the "backbone or brain" of the computer.

Computer fan - Used to lower the temperature of the

computer; a fan is almost always attached to the CPU, and
the computer case will generally have several fans to maintain a
constant airflow. Liquid cooling can also be used to cool a
computer, though it focuses more on individual parts rather than
the overall temperature inside the chassis.

• Random Access Memory (RAM) -It is also known as the

physical memory of the computer. Fast-access memory that
is cleared when the computer is powered-down. RAM
attaches directly to the motherboard, and is used to store
programs that are currently running.

A silicon chip that contains a CPU. In the world of personal

computers, the terms microprocessor and CPU are used
interchangeably. At the heart of all personal computers and most
workstations sits a microprocessor. Microprocessors also control
the logic of almost all digital devices, from clock radios to fuel-
injection systems for automobiles.

Three basic characteristics differentiate microprocessors:

 Instruction set: The set of instructions that the

microprocessor can execute.

 bandwidth : The number of bits processed in a single


 clock speed : Given in megahertz (MHz), the clock

speed determines how many instructions per second the
processor can execute.

In both cases, the higher the value, the more powerful the CPU. For example, a 32-
bit microprocessor that runs at 50MHz is more powerful than a 16-bit
microprocessor that runs at 25MHz.
In addition to bandwidth and clock speed, microprocessors are classified as being
either RISC (reduced instruction set computer) or CISC (complex instruction set

See the Microprocessor Comparison Chart page in the Quick Reference section of
Webopedia for a comparison of microprocessors.


The most widely used RAMs today are SRAMs (static RAMs), which stores data
in a state of a flip-flop, or DRAMs (dynamic RAMs), Flash, and EPROM, which
stores data as a charge in a capacitor. Another well known type of RAM, a ROM,
is a type of a RAM that has permanently enabled/disabled selected transistors by
using a metal mask. ROMs thus cannot store any further charges.

Flash memory is also widely used. Because SRAMs and DRAMs are known to be
highly volatile, many new products adopt the flash memory technology. Some
examples of devices using flash memory include portable music players, scientific
calculators, mobile phones, and even certain types of personal computers such as
the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) devices. Flash memory is divided into two
types: the NOR type and the NAND type. The NOR type is the one able to conduct
a random access, therefore being widely used as a ROM in today's market.
However, as the NOR is not able to, it is often used in flash USB drives.
In today's computers, RAMs are shipped in a form of module known as DRAM
modules or memory modules. It is about the size of a chewing gum and with the
Plug n Play technology, these can easily be replaced by taking it out of the port and
replacing it with a new one. Not to forget, there is also an extremely small amount
of RAM (known as SRAMs) within CPUs, motherboards, hard drives, and other
parts of the system.


(bī´ōs) Acronym for basic input/output system, the built-in

software that determines what a computer can do without
accessing programs from a disk. On PCs, the BIOS contains all the
code required to control the keyboard, display screen, disk drives,
serial communications, and a number of miscellaneous functions.

The BIOS is typically placed in a ROM chip that comes with the computer (it is
often called a ROM BIOS). This ensures that the BIOS will always be available and
will not be damaged by disk failures. It also makes it possible for a computer to
boot itself. Because RAM is faster than ROM, though, many computer
manufacturers design systems so that the BIOS is copied from ROM to RAM each
time the computer is booted. This is known as shadowing.

Many modern PCs have a flash BIOS, which means that the BIOS has been
recorded on a flash memory chip, which can be updated if necessary.

The PC BIOS is fairly standardized, so all PCs are similar at this level (although
there are different BIOS versions). Additional DOS functions are usually added
through software modules. This means you can upgrade to a newer version of DOS
without changing the BIOS.

PC BIOSes that can handle Plug-and-Play (PnP) devices are known as PnP
BIOSes, or PnP-aware BIOSes. These BIOSes are always implemented with flash
memory rather than ROM.


A local area network (LAN) supplies

networking capability to a group of computers in close proximity
to each other such as in an office building, a school, or a home. A
LAN is useful for sharing resources like files, printers, games or
other applications. A LAN in turn often connects to other LANs,
and to the Internet or other WAN.

Most local area networks are built with relatively inexpensive

hardware such as Ethernet cables, network adapters, and hubs.
Wireless LAN and other more advanced LAN hardware options
also exist.

Specialized operating system software may be used to configure

a local area network. For example, most flavors of Microsoft
Windows provide a software package called Internet Connection
Sharing (ICS) that supports controlled access to LAN resources.
The term LAN party refers to a multiplayer gaming event where
participants bring their own computers and build a temporary


A magnetic disk on which you can store computer data. The term
hard is used to distinguish it from a soft, or floppy, disk. Hard
disks hold more data and are faster than floppy disks. A hard disk,
for example, can store anywhere from 10 to more than 100
gigabytes, whereas most floppies have a maximum storage
capacity of 1.4 megabytes.

A single hard disk usually consists of several platters. Each platter requires two
read/write heads, one for each side. All the read/write heads are attached to a single
access arm so that they cannot move independently. Each platter has the same
number of tracks, and a track location that cuts across all platters is called a
cylinder. For example, a typical 84 megabyte hard disk for a PC might have two
platters (four sides) and 1,053 cylinders.

In general, hard disks are less portable than floppies, although it is possible to buy
removable hard disks.

PCI Express, officially abbreviated as PCI-E or PCIe, is a
computer expansion card interface format introduced by
Intel in 2004. PCI Express was designed to replace the
general-purpose PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect)
expansion bus, the high-end PCI-X bus and the AGP graphics
card interface. Unlike previous PC expansion interfaces,
rather than being a bus it is structured around point-to-point full
duplex serial links called lanes. In PCIe 1.1 (currently the most common
version) each lane carries 250 MB/s (250 million bytes per second) in each
direction. PCIe 2.0 doubles this, emerging in late 2007, and is found on newer
motherboards. The latest proposed PCIe 3.0 standard will increase this
further (scheduled for release around 2010).


Pronounced see-dee-rom. Short for Compact Disc-Read-Only

Memory, a type of optical disk capable of storing large amounts
of data -- up to 1GB, although the most common size is 650MB
(megabytes). A single CD-ROM has the storage capacity of 700
floppy disks, enough memory to store about 300,000 text pages.

CD-ROMs are stamped by the vendor, and once stamped, they cannot be erased
and filled with new data. To read a CD, you need a CD-ROM player. All CD-
ROMs conform to a standard size and format, so you can load any type of CD-
ROM into any CD-ROM player. In addition, CD-ROM players are capable of
playing audio CDs, which share the same technology.

CD-ROMs are particularly well-suited to information that requires large storage

capacity. This includes large software applications that support color, graphics,
sound, and especially video.


An expansion board that enables a computer to manipulate and

output sounds. Sound cards are necessary for nearly all CD-ROMs
and have become commonplace on modern personal computers.
Sound cards enable the computer to output sound through
speakers connected to the board, to record sound input from a
microphone connected to the computer, and manipulate sound
stored on a disk.

Nearly all sound cards support MIDI, a standard for representing music
electronically. In addition, most sound cards are Sound Blaster-compatible, which
means that they can process commands written for a Sound Blaster card, the de
facto standard for PC sound.

Sound cards use two basic methods to translate digital data into analog sounds:


Chipset - North Bridge (with heatsink)

The Motherboards chipset can be described as what sets it apart from other boards
in its category. Different chipsets contain different features and components. A
chipset is a number of integrated circuits built onto the board to provide specific
functions e.g. one part of the chipset may be an onboard component such as a
modem or sound chip. Other parts may be used to control the CPU functions. Most
chipsets are designed to work with only one "class" of CPU although now many
older chipsets support more than one type of CPU such as socket 7 which supports
the Pentium, Cyrix 686, Cyrix MII, AMD K6 and K6-2. There are certain
restrictions though to what type of processor a chipset can handle because of the
logic that the CPU uses to access the memory and its cache etc. Since these chips
are working harder with each generation, motherboard manufacturers have started
to put heatsinks on the main parts of the chipset to disperse some of the heat. For
more information on chipsets see our What does a chipset do article.

South Bridge

When we talk about chipsets you mainly only ever hear about the North
bridge. Even those into PC technology have a hard time naming the south
bridges without looking them up. Names like Nforce 2 and KT600 are
North bridges. The South Bridge does an important job as well. It handles
things like the PCI bus, onboard Network and sound chips as well as the
IDE and S-ATA buses.

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a protocol used by
networked devices (clients) to obtain various parameters necessary for the clients
to operate in an Internet Protocol (IP) network. By using this protocol, system
administration workload greatly decreases, and devices can be added to the
network with minimal or no manual configurations. Dynamic Host Control
Protocol is a way to administer network parameter assignment at a single DHCP
server, or a group of such servers arranged in a fault-tolerant manner.
Accomplished with the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). Even in a
network which has a few machines, Dynamic Host Control Protocol is useful,
because a machine can be added by the local network with little effort.

Even for servers whose addresses rarely change, DHCP is recommended

for setting their addresses, so if the servers need to be readdressed (RFC2071), the
changes need to be made in as few places as possible. For the devices, such as
routers and firewalls, that should not use DHCP, it is wise to put TFTP or SSH
servers on the same machine that runs DHCP, again to centralize administration.It
is useful for directly assigning addresses to servers and desktop machines, and,
through a PPP proxy, for dialup and broadband on-demand hosts, as well as for
residential NAT gateways and routers. DHCP is usually not appropriate for
infrastructure such as non-edge routers and DNS servers.
Routing (or routeing) is the process of selecting paths in a network
along which to send data or physical traffic. Routing is performed for many kinds
of networks, including the telephone network, the Internet, and transport networks.

Routing directs forwarding, the passing of logically addressed packets

from their source toward their ultimate destination through intermediary nodes;
typically hardware devices called routers, bridges, gateways, firewalls, or switches.
Ordinary computers with multiple network cards can also forward packets and
perform routing, though with more limited performance. The routing process
usually directs forwarding on the basis of routing tables which maintain a record of
the routes to various network destinations. Thus constructing routing tables, which
are held in the routers' memory, becomes very important for efficient routing.
Routing, in a more narrow sense of the term, is often contrasted with
bridging in its assumption that network addresses are structured and that similar
addresses imply proximity within the network. Because structured addresses allow
a single routing table entry to represent the route to a group of devices, structured
addressing (routing, in the narrow sense) outperforms unstructured addressing
(bridging) in large networks, and has become the dominant form of addressing on
the Internet, though bridging is still widely used, albeit within localized