Network interface controller

A 1990s Ethernet network interface controller card that connects to the motherboard via the now-obsolete ISA bus. This combination card features both a BNC connector (left) for use in (now obsolete) 10BASE2 networks and an 8P8C connector (right) for use in 10BASE-T networks.
12 early ISA 8 bit and 16 bit PC network cards. The lower right-most card is an early wireless network card, and the central card with partial beige plastic cover is a PSTN modem.
A Qlogic QLE3442-CU SFP+ dual-port NIC
An ATM network interface.
Intel 82574L Gigabit Ethernet NIC, a PCI Express ×1 card, which provides two hardware receive queues

Computer hardware component that connects a computer to a computer network.

- Network interface controller
A 1990s Ethernet network interface controller card that connects to the motherboard via the now-obsolete ISA bus. This combination card features both a BNC connector (left) for use in (now obsolete) 10BASE2 networks and an 8P8C connector (right) for use in 10BASE-T networks.

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Label of a UMTS router with MAC addresses for LAN and WLAN modules

MAC address

Label of a UMTS router with MAC addresses for LAN and WLAN modules
The structure of a 48-bit MAC address. The b0 bit distinguishes multicast and unicast addressing and the b1 bit distinguishes universal and locally administered addressing.

A media access control address (MAC address) is a unique identifier assigned to a network interface controller (NIC) for use as a network address in communications within a network segment.

Encapsulation of application data carried by UDP to a link protocol frame

Internet Protocol

Network layer communications protocol in the Internet protocol suite for relaying datagrams across network boundaries.

Network layer communications protocol in the Internet protocol suite for relaying datagrams across network boundaries.

Encapsulation of application data carried by UDP to a link protocol frame
A timeline for the development of the transmission control Protocol TCP and Internet Protocol IP.
First Internet demonstration, linking the ARPANET, PRNET, and SATNET on November 22, 1977

The Internet Protocol is responsible for addressing host interfaces, encapsulating data into datagrams (including fragmentation and reassembly) and routing datagrams from a source host interface to a destination host interface across one or more IP networks. For these purposes, the Internet Protocol defines the format of packets and provides an addressing system.

Protocol stack of the OSI model

Protocol stack

Implementation of a computer networking protocol suite or protocol family.

Implementation of a computer networking protocol suite or protocol family.

Protocol stack of the OSI model
The network protocol stack used by Amiga software

For example, this interface level would define how TCP/IP transport software would talk to the network interface controller.

Router with 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports and three physical layer module types

10 Gigabit Ethernet

Group of computer networking technologies for transmitting Ethernet frames at a rate of 10 gigabits per second.

Group of computer networking technologies for transmitting Ethernet frames at a rate of 10 gigabits per second.

Router with 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports and three physical layer module types
Closeup of a 10 Gigabit Ethernet XFP transceiver
A Foundry Networks router with 10 Gigabit Ethernet optical interfaces (XFP transceiver). The yellow cables are single-mode duplex fiber optic connections.
A 10GBASE-SR SFP+ transceiver
SFF-8470 connector
The Qlogic QLE3442-CU SFP+ dual port NIC, which can use SFP+ DAC cables or SFP+ optical transceivers
Intel X540-T2 10GBASE-T dual port NIC
10GBASE-T SFP+ transceiver

A networking device, such as a switch or a network interface controller may have different PHY types through pluggable PHY modules, such as those based on SFP+.

A twisted pair cable with an 8P8C modular connector attached to a laptop computer, used for Ethernet

Ethernet

Family of wired computer networking technologies commonly used in local area networks , metropolitan area networks (MAN) and wide area networks (WAN).

Family of wired computer networking technologies commonly used in local area networks , metropolitan area networks (MAN) and wide area networks (WAN).

A twisted pair cable with an 8P8C modular connector attached to a laptop computer, used for Ethernet
An Ethernet-over-twisted-pair port
Symbol used by Apple on some devices to denote an Ethernet connection.
Accton Etherpocket-SP parallel port Ethernet adapter (circa 1990). Supports both coaxial (10BASE2) and twisted pair (10BASE-T) cables. Power is drawn from a PS/2 port passthrough cable.
An Intel 82574L Gigabit Ethernet NIC, PCI Express ×1 card
Older Ethernet equipment. Clockwise from top-left: An Ethernet transceiver with an in-line 10BASE2 adapter, a similar model transceiver with a 10BASE5 adapter, an AUI cable, a different style of transceiver with 10BASE2 BNC T-connector, two 10BASE5 end fittings (N connectors), an orange "vampire tap" installation tool (which includes a specialized drill bit at one end and a socket wrench at the other), and an early model 10BASE5 transceiver (h4000) manufactured by DEC. The short length of yellow 10BASE5 cable has one end fitted with an N connector and the other end prepared to have an N connector shell installed; the half-black, half-grey rectangular object through which the cable passes is an installed vampire tap.
A 1990s ISA network interface card supporting both coaxial-cable-based 10BASE2 (BNC connector, left) and twisted-pair-based 10BASE-T (8P8C connector, right)
Patch cables with patch fields of two Ethernet switches
A core Ethernet switch
A close-up of the SMSC LAN91C110 (SMSC 91x) chip, an embedded Ethernet chip
The original Ethernet implementation: shared medium, collision-prone. All computers trying to communicate share the same cable, and so compete with each other.
Modern Ethernet implementation: switched connection, collision-free. Each computer communicates only with its own switch, without competition for the cable with others.

3Com shipped its first 10 Mbit/s Ethernet 3C100 NIC in March 1981, and that year started selling adapters for PDP-11s and VAXes, as well as Multibus-based Intel and Sun Microsystems computers.

A human computer, with microscope and calculator, 1952

Peripheral

Auxiliary device used to put information into and get information out of a computer.

Auxiliary device used to put information into and get information out of a computer.

A human computer, with microscope and calculator, 1952

An input/output device performs both input and output functions, such as a computer data storage device (including a disk drive, solid-state drive, USB flash drive, memory card and tape drive), modem, network adapter and multi-function printer.

Intel

American multinational corporation and technology company headquartered in Santa Clara, California.

American multinational corporation and technology company headquartered in Santa Clara, California.

Andy Grove, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore in 1978
Federico Faggin, designer of the Intel 4004
The die from an Intel 8742, an 8-bit microcontroller that includes a CPU running at 12 MHz, 128 bytes of RAM, 2048 bytes of EPROM, and I/O in the same chip
An Intel mSATA SSD
Paul Otellini, Craig Barrett and Sean Maloney in 2006
Intel microprocessor facility in Costa Rica was responsible in 2006 for 20% of Costa Rican exports and 4.9% of the country's GDP.

Intel also manufactures motherboard chipsets, network interface controllers and integrated circuits, flash memory, graphics chips, embedded processors and other devices related to communications and computing.

Male 50 ohm BNC connector

BNC connector

Miniature quick connect/disconnect radio frequency connector used for coaxial cable.

Miniature quick connect/disconnect radio frequency connector used for coaxial cable.

Male 50 ohm BNC connector
Rear of a video switcher with an array of BNC connectors
BNC Tee Connectors with resistive load terminators
BNC connectors. From left to right: 75 Ω female, 75 Ω male, 50 Ω female, 50 Ω male.
Rear view of a patch panel with BNC jacks in close proximity.
Female (left) and male (right) twin BNC connectors
Triaxial BNC connector

BNC connectors were commonly used on 10base2 thin Ethernet network cables and network cards.

8P8C modular plug pin positioning

Ethernet over twisted pair

Ethernet computer network.

Ethernet computer network.

8P8C modular plug pin positioning
Cat 6A cable with an M12X connector in one end and a modular connector in the other.
Comparison of twisted-pair-based Ethernet technologies

Although 10BASE-T is rarely used as a normal-operation signaling rate today, it is still in wide use with network interface controllers in Wake-on-LAN power-down mode and for special, low-power, low-bandwidth applications.

RTL8201 Ethernet PHY chip

Physical layer

First and lowest layer; The layer most closely associated with the physical connection between devices.

First and lowest layer; The layer most closely associated with the physical connection between devices.

RTL8201 Ethernet PHY chip
Texas Instruments DP83825 - 3mm x 3mm 3.3V PHY chip
Micrel KS8721CL - 3.3V Single Power Supply 10/100BASE-TX/FX MII Physical Layer Transceiver

A PHY, an abbreviation for "physical layer", is an electronic circuit, usually implemented as an integrated circuit, required to implement physical layer functions of the OSI model in a network interface controller.