Internet - Server Side Hardware

Server-side’ relates to your Internet Service Provider and deals with the interconnection of different users and routing them to other networks. Server-side hardware consists of:

•   computers
•   disk drives
•   communication links
•   multiplexors
•   hubs
•   switches
•   routers
•   gateways
•   bridges.


A multiplexor allows a number of workstations to simultaneously gain access to the Internet using only one Internet communications link.

It receives data from a number of sources then splits the data into discrete chunks and transmits them over the link.

Intranets, which consist of a number of hosts, are linked to the Internet by a multiplexor.


Network hubs are multi-port devices, connecting the computers to the network. They are generally passive, simply allowing data to pass through.

Data sent over the network is specifically addressed to a destination (by IP address). The hub ‘understands’ this information and sends the data onwards. The routing of the data over the network is by software command.


A switch is a multi-port device that reads the destination address and physically switches the route between the source and destination.

A store-and-forward switch can read a packet and check that the packet has been sent correctly, before forwarding it to its destination. Switches tend to be faster than hubs.


The most important of all Internet devices are routers. Without routers we quite simply would not have the Internet.

A router is a hardware device that will store and forward packets by checking IP addresses and then routing the packets to their destinations. A simple router is needed to link an Intranet to the Internet.

The Internet requires the use of complex routers, which are switches that have access to routing tables. A routing table is a database, which contains all of the information about a network and the optimal paths between source and destination. Packets can be routed so that they take the shortest path to destination.

Internet routers are dynamic – they speak to one another, automatically updating their routing tables.


A gateway is a hardware device, often a computer, which acts as an Internet router or access point. Gateways can work with multiple protocols and link different types of network..


A bridge is a hardware device that is used to link the same types of network together.

Network protocol 1


For this unit, you only need knowledge and understanding of routers, switches and multiplexors. The other devices have been included in order to aid understanding.

Find out more about servers - click here.

Download and complete Worksheet 11.




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