Image Credit: Allied Electronics and Moxa, Inc.

Network routers are protocol-dependent devices that connect subnetworks, or that break down a large network into smaller subnets. They provide the functions of a network switch, but also offer Internet access. Routers send and receive data packets, but typically have longer delays and lower throughput rates than network bridges.

How Network Routers Work

Network routers ensure that packets reach their destinations without consuming unnecessary network resources.  To manage network traffic then, routers check a recipient's addresses against a configuration table.  This table indicates which network connections are connected to which network addresses, and establishes priorities for how connections are used. The router's configuration table also defines rules for transmitting both typical and atypical traffic.


Image Credit: Linksys by Cisco

Types of Routers

Protocols are the fundamental mechanisms for network communications. They specify the software attributes of data communications, including the structure of a packet and the information contained in it. Network protocols may also prescribe all or some of the operational characteristics of the hardware on which they will run. Typically, suppliers describe routers according to protocol (e.g., Ethernet routers) or according to the medium (e.g., wireless routers). Products are also listed by supplier name, especially if the vendor is well-know (e.g., Cisco routers),

Product and Performance Specifications

The GlobalSpec SpecSearch database allows industrial buyers to specify routers according to the number of ports, data rate, and memory.  Port type is also an important consideration because certain types of ports are designed for certain network protocols.    

Features and Applications

Network routers allow all of the computers and devices in a computer network to use one high-speed Internet connection. Often, network equipment that is designed for a computer room is stackable or rack-mountable. Hardened products can withstand higher temperatures and weather conditions.

Resources

Cisco - How Routers Work

Networking Exam Academy - Introduction to How Routers Work for the CCENT Exam

4G Communications - Routing Basics: How Routers Work

 


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