20 August 2010



A network interface card, network adapter, network interface controller (NIC), or LAN adapter is a computer hardware component designed to allow computers to communicate over a computer network. It is both an OSI layer 1 (physical layer) and layer 2 (data link layer) device, as it provides physical access to a networking medium and provides a low-level addressing system through the use of MAC addresses. It allows users to connect to each other either by using cables or wirelessly.

An Ethernet network interface card is installed in an available slot inside the computer. The NIC assigns a unique address called a MAC (media access control) to the machine. The MACs on the network are used to direct traffic between the computers. The back plate of the network interface card features a port that looks similar to a phone jack, but is slightly larger. This port accommodates an Ethernet cable, which resembles a thicker version of a standard telephone line. Ethernet cable must run from each network interface card to a central hub or switch. The hub or switch acts like a relay, passing information between computers using the MAC addresses and allowing resources like printers and scanners to be shared along with data.
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