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Ethernet - an explanation

Most popular LAN technology in use today, with configuration rules defined by IEEE standard 802.3. 10 Mbps, CSMA/CD baseband network that runs over thin coax, thick coax, twisted pair or fiber optic cable.The IEEE 802.3 standard defines ethernet at the physical and data link layers of the OSI network model. Most ethernet systems use the following:
  • Carrier-sense multiple-access with collision detection (CSMA/CD) for controlling access to the network media.
  • Use baseband broadcasts
  • A method for packing data into data packets called frames
  • Transmit at 10Mbps, 100Mbps, and 1Gbps.

Types of Ethernet:
  • 10Base5 - Uses Thicknet coaxial cable which requires a transceiver with a vampire tap to connect each computer. There is a drop cable from the transceiver to the Attachment Unit Interface (AIU). The AIU may be a DIX port on the network card. There is a transceiver for each network card on the network. This type of ethernet is subject to the 5-4-3 rule meaning there can be 5 network segments with 4 repeaters, and three of the segments can be connected to computers. It uses bus topology. Maximum segment length is 500 Meters with the maximum overall length at 2500 meters. Minimum length between nodes is 2.5 meters. Maximum nodes per segment is 100.
  • 10Base2 - Uses Thinnet coaxial cable. Uses a BNC connector and bus topology requiring a terminator at each end of the cable. The cable used is RG-58A/U or RG-58C/U with an impedance of 50 ohms. RG-58U is not acceptable. Uses the 5-4-3 rule meaning there can be 5 network segments with 4 repeaters, and three of the segments can be connected to computers. The maximum length of one segment is 185 meters. Barrel connectors can be used to link smaller pieces of cable on each segment, but each barrel connector reduces signal quality. Minimum length between nodes is 0.5 meters.
  • 10BaseT - Uses Unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable. Uses star topology. Shielded twisted pair (STP) is not part of the 10BaseT specification. Not subject to the 5-4-3 rule. They can use category 3, 4, or 5 cable, but perform best with category 5 cable. Category 3 is the minimum. Require only 2 pairs of wire. Cables in ceilings and walls must be plenum rated. Maximum segment length is 100 meters. Minimum length between nodes is 2.5 meters. Maximum number of connected segments is 1024. Maximum number of nodes per segment is 1 (star topology). Uses RJ-45 connectors.
  • 10BaseF - Uses Fiber Optic cable. Can have up to 1024 network nodes. Maximum segment length is 2000 meters. Uses specialized connectors for fiber optic. Includes three categories:
    • 10BaseFL - Used to link computers in a LAN environment, which is not commonly done due to high cost.
    • 10BaseFP - Used to link computers with passive hubs to get cable distances up to 500 meters.
    • 10BaseFB - Used as a backbone between hubs.

  • 100BaseT - Also known as fast ethernet. Uses RJ-45 connectors. Topology is star. Uses CSMA/CD media access. Minimum length between nodes is 2.5 meters. Maximum number of connected segments is 1024. Maximum number of nodes per segment is 1 (star topology). IEEE802.3 specification.
  • 100BaseTX - Requires category 5 two pair cable. Maximum distance is 100 meters.
  • 100BaseT4 - Requires category 3 cable with 4 pair. Maximum distance is 100 meters.
  • 100BaseFX - Can use fiber optic to transmit up to 2000 meters. Requires two strands of fiber optic cable.
  • 100VG-AnyLAN - Requires category 3 cable with 4 pair. Maximum distance is 100 meters with cat 3 or 4 cable. Can reach 150 meters with cat 5 cable. Can use fiber optic to transmit up to 2000 meters. This ethernet type supports transmission of Token-Ring network packets in addition to ethernet packets. IEEE 802.12 specification. Uses demand-priority media access control. The topology is star. It uses a series of interlinked cascading hubs. Uses RJ-45 connectors.

Types of ethernet frames
  • Ethernet 802.2 - These frames contain fields similar to the ethernet 802.3 frames with the addition of three Logical Link Control (LLC) fields. Novell NetWare 4.x networks use it.
  • Ethernet 802.3 - It is mainly used in Novell NetWare 2.x and 3.x networks. The frame type was developed prior to completion of the IEEE 802.3 specification and may not work in all ethernet environments.
  • Ethernet II - This frame type combines the 802.3 preamble and SFD fields and include a protocol type field where the 802.3 frame contained a length field. TCP/IP networks and networks that use multiple protocols normally use this type of frames.
  • Ethernet SNAP - This frame type builds on the 802.2 frame type by adding a type field indicating what network protocol is being used to send data. This frame type is mainly used in AppleTalk networks.

The packet size of all the above frame types is between 64 and 1,518 bytes.