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Network Cards

Planning to hitch your PC to a network. Here are some tips on what to look for when buying a network adapter

Some features to look for in a network adapter Plug and play installation PCI 32-bit bus master architecture provides high throughout Full-duplex operation Auto negotiation for automatic speed selection (10MBPS or 100MBPS) Boot ROM socket for optional remote booting Wake-On-LAN function (optional)

Network adapters, commonly known as network interface cards (NICs) or network cards are responsible for transferring data from the computer to the transmission media. Network adapters transform data into signals that are carried across the transmission media to its destination. Once the signals reach the destination device, the NICs translate the signals back into information the computer can process.

Network adapters function as an interface between the computer and the network cabling. So they serve two masters. Inside the computer, a network interface card moves data to and from the random access memory (RAM). Outside the computer, it controls the flow of data in and out of the network cable system. An interface card has a specialized port that matches the electrical signaling standards used on the cable and the specific type of cable connector.

In between the computer and cable, the interface card must buffer the data, because the computer is typically much faster than the network. The interface card also must change the form of data from a wide parallel stream coming in eight bits at a time to a narrow stream moving one bit at a time in and out of the network port.

How to choose a Network adapter?

All PCs require some type of network interface card (NIC's) or network adapter to make the connection for network use. When choosing a Network interface card (NIC) for a PC you should consider the following:

The type of adapter slot (Bus architecture)

There are more than a few different types of buses in computers. Some of the standard bus types are:

ISA: The Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) bus was designed by IBM and used in the IBM PC. This bus was originally designed to transfer 8 Mbps. This was done using eight-bit paths, which worked well in the 8086 and 8088 CPUs, which could only handle eight bits at once. When the 80286 was released, there was a need for 16-bit cards. Printers, modems and sound cards are all examples of equipment that still tend to use an ISA bus. Many workstations still use ISA bus NICs. However, servers will benefit from a faster bus.

PCI: Peripheral Component Interface, or PCI, runs at up to 33MHz and can transfer 32 bits at a time. PCI was originally developed to help speed up graphics on newer computers. Most new PCI cards are software configurable and usually support the new plug and play standard to automatically configure the card. PCI slots are not backward compatible with any other type.

PCMCIA: PCMCIA is mainly meant for notebook and laptop computers. It stands for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association. The PCMCIA v1.0 standard defines specifications for memory cards. Later, when other types of devices were required, v2.0 of the standard was established. This allowed the use of other devices such as modems, disk drives and network cards.

Type of cable connector

There are two main types of standard cable connectors. They are:

BNC Connector: The BNC connector is a small, round cylinder with two small prongs on the outside that allows a connector to attach to it. A small hole for a copper wire to go into is inside the connector. The T connector is used to connect the network adapter to the two pieces of coaxial cable.

RJ-45 Connector: The RJ-45 connector looks much like a normal telephone cable connector, but larger. It uses twisted-pair cabling with four pairs of wires. A normal telephone jack uses a RJ-11 connector, which is a twisted pair with two pairs of wires.

The speed of your network

Your network can work at various speeds depending on the kind of Ethernet. Here are a few common Ethernet standards.

Ethernet: Ethernet is the first and least expensive high-speed LAN technology. The Ethernet adapters transmit and receive data at speeds of 10 MBPS through up to 300 feet of telephone wire to a hub or a switching device.

Fast Ethernet: This is the second in the series of Ethernet. Fast Ethernet adapters run a network at speeds of 100 MBPS as compared to 10 MBPS of Ethernet. This LAN technology is expensive than Ethernet.

Gigabit Ethernet: There are two-Gigabit Ethernet standards, which describe Ethernet systems that operate at a speed of 1000 Mbps. The 802.3z standard describes the specifications for the 1000BASE-X Gigabit Ethernet system for networks based on fiber optic and the 802.3ab standard, which describes the specifications for the 1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet system for twisted pair networks.

Mahesh Rathod can be reached at rathodmp@hotmail.com

Company Indicative Prices in Rupees
D'link 10/100 725
BPL 10/100 625
Edimax 10/100 640

Accton 10/100 650

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