Network topology

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Network topology is the arrangement of the elements (links, nodes, etc.) of a communication network. [1] [2] Network topology can be used to define or describe the arrangement of various types of telecommunication networks, including command and control radio networks, [3] industrial fieldbusses, and computer networks.

In telecommunication a data link is the means of connecting one location to another for the purpose of transmitting and receiving digital information. It can also refer to a set of electronics assemblies, consisting of a transmitter and a receiver and the interconnecting data telecommunication circuit. These are governed by a link protocol enabling digital data to be transferred from a data source to a data sink.

In telecommunications networks, a node is either a redistribution point or a communication endpoint. The definition of a node depends on the network and protocol layer referred to. A physical network node is an active electronic device that is attached to a network, and is capable of creating, receiving, or transmitting information over a communications channel. A passive distribution point such as a distribution frame or patch panel is consequently not a node.

Command and control or C2 is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ... [that] employs human, physical, and information resources to solve problems and accomplish missions" to achieve the goals of an organization or enterprise, according to a 2015 definition by military scientists Marius Vassiliou, David S. Alberts and Jonathan R. Agre, The term often refers to a military system.

Contents

Network topology is the topological [4] structure of a network and may be depicted physically or logically. It is an application of graph theory [3] wherein communicating devices are modeled as nodes and the connections between the devices are modeled as links or lines between the nodes. Physical topology is the placement of the various components of a network (e.g., device location and cable installation), while logical topology illustrates how data flows within a network. Distances between nodes, physical interconnections, transmission rates, or signal types may differ between two different networks, yet their topologies may be identical. A network’s physical topology is a particular concern of the physical layer of the OSI model.

Graph theory study of graphs, which are mathematical structures used to model pairwise relations between objects

In mathematics, graph theory is the study of graphs, which are mathematical structures used to model pairwise relations between objects. A graph in this context is made up of vertices, nodes, or points which are connected by edges, arcs, or lines. A graph may be undirected, meaning that there is no distinction between the two vertices associated with each edge, or its edges may be directed from one vertex to another; see Graph for more detailed definitions and for other variations in the types of graph that are commonly considered. Graphs are one of the prime objects of study in discrete mathematics.

Logical topology is the arrangement of devices on a computer network and how they communicate with one another. Logical topologies describe how signals act on the network.

In telecommunications and computing, bit rate is the number of bits that are conveyed or processed per unit of time.

Examples of network topologies are found in local area networks (LAN), a common computer network installation. Any given node in the LAN has one or more physical links to other devices in the network; graphically mapping these links results in a geometric shape that can be used to describe the physical topology of the network. A wide variety of physical topologies have been used in LANs, including ring, bus, mesh and star. Conversely, mapping the data flow between the components determines the logical topology of the network. In comparison, Controller Area Networks, common in vehicles, are primarily distributed control system networks of one or more controllers interconnected with sensors and actuators over, invariably, a physical bus topology.

Local area network computer network that connects devices over a small area

A local area network (LAN) is a computer network that interconnects computers within a limited area such as a residence, school, laboratory, university campus or office building. By contrast, a wide area network (WAN) not only covers a larger geographic distance, but also generally involves leased telecommunication circuits.

Ring network

A ring network is a network topology in which each node connects to exactly two other nodes, forming a single continuous pathway for signals through each node - a ring. Data travels from node to node, with each node along the way handling every packet.

Bus network

A bus network is a network topology in which nodes are directly connected to a common linear half-duplex link called a bus.

Topologies

Diagram of different network topologies. NetworkTopologies.svg
Diagram of different network topologies.

Two basic categories of network topologies exist, physical topologies and logical topologies. [5]

The transmission medium layout used to link devices is the physical topology of the network. For conductive or fiber optical mediums, this refers to the layout of cabling, the locations of nodes, and the links between the nodes and the cabling. [1] The physical topology of a network is determined by the capabilities of the network access devices and media, the level of control or fault tolerance desired, and the cost associated with cabling or telecommunication circuits.

Transmission medium material substance that can propagate energy waves

A transmission medium is a material substance that can propagate energy waves. For example, the transmission medium for sounds is usually a gas, but solids and liquids may also act as a transmission medium for sound.

Structured cabling telecommunications cabling infrastructure

In telecommunications, structured cabling is building or campus cabling infrastructure that consists of a number of standardized smaller elements called subsystems.

In contrast, logical topology is the way that the signals act on the network media, or the way that the data passes through the network from one device to the next without regard to the physical interconnection of the devices. A network's logical topology is not necessarily the same as its physical topology. For example, the original twisted pair Ethernet using repeater hubs was a logical bus topology carried on a physical star topology. Token ring is a logical ring topology, but is wired as a physical star from the media access unit. Physically, AFDX can be a cascaded star topology of multiple dual redundant Ethernet switches; however, the AFDX Virtual links are modeled as time-switched single-transmitter bus connections, thus following the safety model of a single-transmitter bus topology previously used in aircraft. Logical topologies are often closely associated with media access control methods and protocols. Some networks are able to dynamically change their logical topology through configuration changes to their routers and switches.

Token ring technology for computer networking

Token Ring local area network (LAN) technology is a communications protocol for local area networks. It uses a special three-byte frame called a "token" that travels around a logical "ring" of workstations or servers. This token passing is a channel access method providing fair access for all stations, and eliminating the collisions of contention-based access methods.

Media access unit

A Media Access Unit (MAU), also known as a Multistation Access Unit is a device to attach multiple network stations in a star topology as a token ring network, internally wired to connect the stations into a logical ring.

Avionics Full-Duplex Switched Ethernet (AFDX) is a data network, patented by international aircraft manufacturer Airbus, for safety-critical applications that utilizes dedicated bandwidth while providing deterministic quality of service (QoS). AFDX is a worldwide registered trademark by Airbus. The AFDX data network is based on Ethernet technology using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components. The AFDX data network is a specific implementation of ARINC Specification 664 Part 7, a profiled version of an IEEE 802.3 network per parts 1 & 2, which defines how commercial off-the-shelf networking components will be used for future generation Aircraft Data Networks (ADN). The six primary aspects of an AFDX data network include full duplex, redundancy, determinism, high speed performance, switched and profiled network.

The transmission media (often referred to in the literature as the physical media) used to link devices to form a computer network include electrical cables (Ethernet, HomePNA, power line communication, G.hn), optical fiber (fiber-optic communication), and radio waves (wireless networking). In the OSI model, these are defined at layers 1 and 2 — the physical layer and the data link layer.

A widely adopted family of transmission media used in local area network (LAN) technology is collectively known as Ethernet. The media and protocol standards that enable communication between networked devices over Ethernet are defined by IEEE 802.3. Ethernet transmits data over both copper and fiber cables. Wireless LAN standards (e.g. those defined by IEEE 802.11) use radio waves, or others use infrared signals as a transmission medium. Power line communication uses a building's power cabling to transmit data.

Wired technologies

Fiber optic cables are used to transmit light from one computer/network node to another Fibreoptic.jpg
Fiber optic cables are used to transmit light from one computer/network node to another

The orders of the following wired technologies are, roughly, from slowest to fastest transmission speed.

2007 map showing submarine optical fiber telecommunication cables around the world. World map of submarine cables.png
2007 map showing submarine optical fiber telecommunication cables around the world.

Price is a main factor distinguishing wired- and wireless-technology options in a business. Wireless options command a price premium that can make purchasing wired computers, printers and other devices a financial benefit. Before making the decision to purchase hard-wired technology products, a review of the restrictions and limitations of the selections is necessary. Business and employee needs may override any cost considerations. [10]

Wireless technologies

Personal computers are very often connected to networks using wireless links Wireless network.jpg
Personal computers are very often connected to networks using wireless links

Exotic technologies

There have been various attempts at transporting data over exotic media:

Both cases have a large round-trip delay time, which gives slow two-way communication, but doesn't prevent sending large amounts of information.

Nodes

Network nodes are the points of connection of the transmission medium to transmitters and receivers of the electrical, optical, or radio signals carried in the medium. Nodes may be associated with a computer, but certain types may have only a microcontroller at a node or possibly no programmable device at all. In the simplest of serial arrangements, one RS-232 transmitter can be connected by a pair of wires to one receiver, forming two nodes on one link, or a Point-to-Point topology. Some protocols permit a single node to only either transmit or receive (e.g., ARINC 429). Other protocols have nodes that can both transmit and receive into a single channel (e.g., CAN can have many transceivers connected to a single bus). While the conventional system building blocks of a computer network include network interface controllers (NICs), repeaters, hubs, bridges, switches, routers, modems, gateways, and firewalls, most address network concerns beyond the physical network topology and may be represented as single nodes on a particular physical network topology.

Network interfaces

An ATM network interface in the form of an accessory card. A lot of network interfaces are built-in. ForeRunnerLE 25 ATM Network Interface (1).jpg
An ATM network interface in the form of an accessory card. A lot of network interfaces are built-in.

A network interface controller (NIC) is computer hardware that provides a computer with the ability to access the transmission media, and has the ability to process low-level network information. For example, the NIC may have a connector for accepting a cable, or an aerial for wireless transmission and reception, and the associated circuitry.

The NIC responds to traffic addressed to a network address for either the NIC or the computer as a whole.

In Ethernet networks, each network interface controller has a unique Media Access Control (MAC) address—usually stored in the controller's permanent memory. To avoid address conflicts between network devices, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) maintains and administers MAC address uniqueness. The size of an Ethernet MAC address is six octets. The three most significant octets are reserved to identify NIC manufacturers. These manufacturers, using only their assigned prefixes, uniquely assign the three least-significant octets of every Ethernet interface they produce.

Repeaters and hubs

A repeater is an electronic device that receives a network signal, cleans it of unnecessary noise and regenerates it. The signal may be reformed or retransmitted at a higher power level, to the other side of an obstruction possibly using a different transmission medium, so that the signal can cover longer distances without degradation. Commercial repeaters have extended RS-232 segments from 15 meters to over a kilometer [13] . In most twisted pair Ethernet configurations, repeaters are required for cable that runs longer than 100 meters. With fiber optics, repeaters can be tens or even hundreds of kilometers apart.

Repeaters work within the physical layer of the OSI model, that is, there is no end-to-end change in the physical protocol across the repeater, or repeater pair, even if a different physical layer may be used between the ends of the repeater, or repeater pair. Repeaters require a small amount of time to regenerate the signal. This can cause a propagation delay that affects network performance and may affect proper function. As a result, many network architectures limit the number of repeaters that can be used in a row, e.g., the Ethernet 5-4-3 rule.

A repeater with multiple ports is known as hub, an Ethernet hub in Ethernet networks, a USB hub in USB networks.

Bridges

A network bridge connects and filters traffic between two network segments at the data link layer (layer 2) of the OSI model to form a single network. This breaks the network's collision domain but maintains a unified broadcast domain. Network segmentation breaks down a large, congested network into an aggregation of smaller, more efficient networks.

Bridges come in three basic types:

Switches

A network switch is a device that forwards and filters OSI layer 2 datagrams (frames) between ports based on the destination MAC address in each frame. [14] A switch is distinct from a hub in that it only forwards the frames to the physical ports involved in the communication rather than all ports connected. It can be thought of as a multi-port bridge. [15] It learns to associate physical ports to MAC addresses by examining the source addresses of received frames. If an unknown destination is targeted, the switch broadcasts to all ports but the source. Switches normally have numerous ports, facilitating a star topology for devices, and cascading additional switches.

Multi-layer switches are capable of routing based on layer 3 addressing or additional logical levels. The term switch is often used loosely to include devices such as routers and bridges, as well as devices that may distribute traffic based on load or based on application content (e.g., a Web URL identifier).

Routers

A typical home or small office router showing the ADSL telephone line and Ethernet network cable connections Adsl connections.jpg
A typical home or small office router showing the ADSL telephone line and Ethernet network cable connections

A router is an internetworking device that forwards packets between networks by processing the routing information included in the packet or datagram (Internet protocol information from layer 3). The routing information is often processed in conjunction with the routing table (or forwarding table). A router uses its routing table to determine where to forward packets. A destination in a routing table can include a "null" interface, also known as the "black hole" interface because data can go into it, however, no further processing is done for said data, i.e. the packets are dropped.

Modems

Modems (MOdulator-DEModulator) are used to connect network nodes via wire not originally designed for digital network traffic, or for wireless. To do this one or more carrier signals are modulated by the digital signal to produce an analog signal that can be tailored to give the required properties for transmission. Modems are commonly used for telephone lines, using a Digital Subscriber Line technology.

Firewalls

A firewall is a network device for controlling network security and access rules. Firewalls are typically configured to reject access requests from unrecognized sources while allowing actions from recognized ones. The vital role firewalls play in network security grows in parallel with the constant increase in cyber attacks.

Classification

The study of network topology recognizes eight basic topologies: point-to-point, bus, star, ring or circular, mesh, tree, hybrid, or daisy chain. [16]

Point-to-point

The simplest topology with a dedicated link between two endpoints. Easiest to understand, of the variations of point-to-point topology, is a point-to-point communication channel that appears, to the user, to be permanently associated with the two endpoints. A child's tin can telephone is one example of a physical dedicated channel.

Using circuit-switching or packet-switching technologies, a point-to-point circuit can be set up dynamically and dropped when no longer needed. Switched point-to-point topologies are the basic model of conventional telephony.

The value of a permanent point-to-point network is unimpeded communications between the two endpoints. The value of an on-demand point-to-point connection is proportional to the number of potential pairs of subscribers and has been expressed as Metcalfe's Law.

Bus

Bus network topology BusNetwork.svg
Bus network topology

In local area networks where bus topology is used, each node is connected to a single cable, by the help of interface connectors. This central cable is the backbone of the network and is known as the bus (thus the name). A signal from the source travels in both directions to all machines connected on the bus cable until it finds the intended recipient. If the machine address does not match the intended address for the data, the machine ignores the data. Alternatively, if the data matches the machine address, the data is accepted. Because the bus topology consists of only one wire, it is rather inexpensive to implement when compared to other topologies. However, the low cost of implementing the technology is offset by the high cost of managing the network. Additionally, because only one cable is utilized, it can be the single point of failure. In this topology data being transferred may be accessed by any node.

Linear bus

The type of network topology in which all of the nodes of the network that are connected to a common transmission medium which has exactly two endpoints (this is the 'bus', which is also commonly referred to as the backbone, or trunk) – all data that is transmitted in between nodes in the network is transmitted over this common transmission medium and is able to be received by all nodes in the network simultaneously. [1]

Note:When the electrical signal reaches the end of the bus, the signal is reflected back down the line, causing unwanted interference. As a solution, the two endpoints of the bus are normally terminated with a device called a terminator that prevents this reflection.

Distributed bus

The type of network topology in which all of the nodes of the network are connected to a common transmission medium which has more than two endpoints that are created by adding branches to the main section of the transmission medium – the physical distributed bus topology functions in exactly the same fashion as the physical linear bus topology (i.e., all nodes share a common transmission medium).

Star

Star network topology StarNetwork.svg
Star network topology

In local area networks with a star topology, each network host is connected to a central hub with a point-to-point connection. So it can be said that every computer is indirectly connected to every other node with the help of the hub. In star topology, every node (computer workstation or any other peripheral) is connected to a central node called hub or switch. The switch is the server and the peripherals are the clients. The network does not necessarily have to resemble a star to be classified as a star network, but all of the nodes on the network must be connected to one central device. All traffic that traverses the network passes through the central hub. The hub acts as a signal repeater. The star topology is considered the easiest topology to design and implement. An advantage of the star topology is the simplicity of adding additional nodes. The primary disadvantage of the star topology is that the hub represents a single point of failure. Since all peripheral communication must flow through the central hub, the aggregate central bandwidth forms a network bottleneck for large clusters.

Extended star

The extended star network topology extend a physical star topology by one or more repeaters between the central node and the peripheral (or 'spoke') nodes. The repeaters are used to extend the maximum transmission distance of the physical layer, the point-to-point distance between the central node and the peripheral nodes. Repeaters permit to reach a greater transmission distance beyond the transmitting power of the central node. The use of repeaters can also overcome limitations from the standard upon which the physical layer is based.

A physical extended star topology in which repeaters are replaced with hubs or switches is a type of hybrid network topology and is referred to as a physical hierarchical star topology, although some texts make no distinction between the two topologies.

A physical hierarchical star topology can also be referred as a tier-star topology, this topology differ from a tree topology in the way start networks are connected together. A tier-star topology use central node, however a tree topology use central bus and can also be referred as star-bus network.

Distributed Star

A type of network topology that is composed of individual networks that are based upon the physical star topology connected in a linear fashion – i.e., 'daisy-chained' – with no central or top level connection point (e.g., two or more 'stacked' hubs, along with their associated star connected nodes or 'spokes').

Ring

Ring network topology RingNetwork.svg
Ring network topology

A ring topology is a bus topology in a closed loop. Data travels around the ring in one direction. When one node sends data to another, the data passes through each intermediate node on the ring until it reaches its destination. The intermediate nodes repeat (re transmit) the data to keep the signal strong. [5] Every node is a peer; there is no hierarchical relationship of clients and servers. If one node is unable to re transmit data, it severs communication between the nodes before and after it in the bus.

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

Mesh

The value of fully meshed networks is proportional to the exponent of the number of subscribers, assuming that communicating groups of any two endpoints, up to and including all the endpoints, is approximated by Reed's Law.

Fully connected network

Fully connected mesh topology NetworkTopology-FullyConnected.png
Fully connected mesh topology

In a fully connected network, all nodes are interconnected. (In graph theory this is called a complete graph.) The simplest fully connected network is a two-node network. A fully connected network doesn't need to use packet switching or broadcasting. However, since the number of connections grows quadratically with the number of nodes:

This makes it impractical for large networks. This kind of topology does not trip and affect other nodes in the network.

Partially connected network

Partially connected mesh topology NetworkTopology-Mesh.svg
Partially connected mesh topology

In a partially connected network, certain nodes are connected to exactly one other node; but some nodes are connected to two or more other nodes with a point-to-point link. This makes it possible to make use of some of the redundancy of mesh topology that is physically fully connected, without the expense and complexity required for a connection between every node in the network.

Hybrid

Hybrid topology is also known as hybrid network. [17] Hybrid networks combine two or more topologies in such a way that the resulting network does not exhibit one of the standard topologies (e.g., bus, star, ring, etc.). For example, a tree network (or star-bus network) is a hybrid topology in which star networks are interconnected via bus networks. [18] [19] However, a tree network connected to another tree network is still topologically a tree network, not a distinct network type. A hybrid topology is always produced when two different basic network topologies are connected.

A star-ring network consists of two or more ring networks connected using a multistation access unit (MAU) as a centralized hub.

Snowflake topology is a star network of star networks.[ citation needed ]

Two other hybrid network types are hybrid mesh and hierarchical star. [18]

Daisy chain

Except for star-based networks, the easiest way to add more computers into a network is by daisy-chaining, or connecting each computer in series to the next. If a message is intended for a computer partway down the line, each system bounces it along in sequence until it reaches the destination. A daisy-chained network can take two basic forms: linear and ring.

Centralization

The star topology reduces the probability of a network failure by connecting all of the peripheral nodes (computers, etc.) to a central node. When the physical star topology is applied to a logical bus network such as Ethernet, this central node (traditionally a hub) rebroadcasts all transmissions received from any peripheral node to all peripheral nodes on the network, sometimes including the originating node. All peripheral nodes may thus communicate with all others by transmitting to, and receiving from, the central node only. The failure of a transmission line linking any peripheral node to the central node will result in the isolation of that peripheral node from all others, but the remaining peripheral nodes will be unaffected. However, the disadvantage is that the failure of the central node will cause the failure of all of the peripheral nodes.

If the central node is passive, the originating node must be able to tolerate the reception of an echo of its own transmission, delayed by the two-way round trip transmission time (i.e. to and from the central node) plus any delay generated in the central node. An active star network has an active central node that usually has the means to prevent echo-related problems.

A tree topology (a.k.a. hierarchical topology) can be viewed as a collection of star networks arranged in a hierarchy. This tree has individual peripheral nodes (e.g. leaves) which are required to transmit to and receive from one other node only and are not required to act as repeaters or regenerators. Unlike the star network, the functionality of the central node may be distributed.

As in the conventional star network, individual nodes may thus still be isolated from the network by a single-point failure of a transmission path to the node. If a link connecting a leaf fails, that leaf is isolated; if a connection to a non-leaf node fails, an entire section of the network becomes isolated from the rest.

To alleviate the amount of network traffic that comes from broadcasting all signals to all nodes, more advanced central nodes were developed that are able to keep track of the identities of the nodes that are connected to the network. These network switches will "learn" the layout of the network by "listening" on each port during normal data transmission, examining the data packets and recording the address/identifier of each connected node and which port it is connected to in a lookup table held in memory. This lookup table then allows future transmissions to be forwarded to the intended destination only.

Decentralization

In a partially connected mesh topology, there are at least two nodes with two or more paths between them to provide redundant paths in case the link providing one of the paths fails. Decentralization is often used to compensate for the single-point-failure disadvantage that is present when using a single device as a central node (e.g., in star and tree networks). A special kind of mesh, limiting the number of hops between two nodes, is a hypercube. The number of arbitrary forks in mesh networks makes them more difficult to design and implement, but their decentralized nature makes them very useful. In 2012 the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) published the Shortest Path Bridging protocol to ease configuration tasks and allows all paths to be active which increases bandwidth and redundancy between all devices. [20] [21] [22] [23] [24]

This is similar in some ways to a grid network, where a linear or ring topology is used to connect systems in multiple directions. A multidimensional ring has a toroidal topology, for instance.

A fully connected network, complete topology, or full mesh topology is a network topology in which there is a direct link between all pairs of nodes. In a fully connected network with n nodes, there are n(n-1)/2 direct links. Networks designed with this topology are usually very expensive to set up, but provide a high degree of reliability due to the multiple paths for data that are provided by the large number of redundant links between nodes. This topology is mostly seen in military applications.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Networking cables are networking hardware used to connect one network device to other network devices or to connect two or more computers to share printers, scanners etc. Different types of network cables, such as coaxial cable, optical fiber cable, and twisted pair cables, are used depending on the network's physical layer, topology, and size. The devices can be separated by a few meters or nearly unlimited distances.

References

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