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.
Related Products & Services
Network equipment is used to split, switch, boost, or direct packets of information along a network. This product area includes network hubs, switches, routers, bridges, gateways, multiplexers, transceivers and firewalls. In addition to device type, network equipment is defined by protocol (e.g., Ethernet).
Network firewalls protect computer networks against unauthorized use or attack. They permit or deny access to private network devices and applications, and represent an important part of an organization's overall security policy. Firewalls may be software applications, hardware devices (such as routers), or a combination of both. They include turnkey products that are relatively easy to install as well as complex, multi-layer installations that require the expertise of a certified network administrator.
Network hubs provide a central location for attaching wires to workstations. Often, these hardware devices include a network switch that controls how and where data is forwarded.
Network Repeaters and Extenders
Networking repeaters regenerate incoming electrical, wireless, or optical signals to preserve signal integrity and extend the distance over which data can travel. They are often used to connect cable segments in IEEE 802.3 networks.
Network switches connect network devices to host computers and allow a large number of devices to share a limited number of ports. They increase network capacity and speed by examining and filtering data packets. Switches also regenerate forwarded packets, reducing collision rates and permitting the use of additional nodes.
Network transceivers connect nodes and send and receive signals. In Ethernet networks, they are called medium access units (MAU).
VoIP and IP Telephony
VoIP and IP telephony allows PC users to make phone calls over the Internet or other packet networks via gateways and standard telephones.