Types of Networks

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Broadcast Networks
On a broadcast network, such as Ethernet, any of the many systems attached to the network cable can send a message at any time; each system examines the address in each message and responds only to messages addressed to it. A problem occurs on a broadcast network when multiple systems send data at the same time, resulting in a collision of the messages on the cable. When messages collide, they can become garbled. The sending system notices the garbled message and resends it after waiting a short but random amount of time. Waiting a random amount of time helps prevent those same systems from resending the data at the same moment and experiencing yet another collision. The extra traffic that results from collisions can strain the network; if the collision rate gets too high, retransmissions may result in more collisions. Ultimately the network may become unusable.



Point-to-Point Networks
A point-to-point link does not seem like much of a network because only two endpoints are involved. However, most connections to WANs (wide area networks) go through point-to-point links, using wire cable, radio, or satellite links. The advantage of a point-to-point link is its simplicity: Because only two systems are involved, the traffic on the link is limited and well understood. A disadvantage is that each system can typically be equipped for only a small number of such links; it is impractical and costly to establish point-to-point links that connect each computer to all the rest. Point-to-point links often use serial lines and modems. The combination of a modem with a point-to-point link allows an isolated system to connect inexpensively to a larger network. The most common types of point-to-point links are the ones used to connect to the Internet. When you use DSL1 (digital subscriber line), you are using a point-to-point link to connect to the Internet. Serial lines, such as T-1, T-3, ATM links, and ISDN, are all point-to-point. Although it might seem like a point-to-point link, a cable modem is based on broadcast technology and in that way is similar to Ethernet.



Switched Networks
A switch is a device that establishes a virtual path between source and destination hosts in such a way that each path appears to be a point-to-point link, much like a railroad roundhouse. The switch creates and tears down virtual paths as hosts seek to communicate with each other. Each host thinks it has a direct point-to-point path to the host it is talking to. Contrast this approach with a broadcast network, where each host also sees traffic bound for other hosts. The advantage of a switched network over a pure point-to-point network is that each host requires only one connection: the connection to the switch. Using pure point-to-point connections, each host must have a connection to every other host. Scalability is provided by further linking switches.

Source of Information : Prentice Hall A Practical Guide to Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5th Edition

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