In information technology, computer networks are the group of computers that are connected to perform communication and transfer the data and resources to another computer. The data stored in one computer can be accessed in another computer very easily when they are connected to only one network. These are used to communicate and share devices such as scanners, printers, and photocopiers. To provide communication or interaction between the computers/hosts and hardware on the computer network, the network devices such as bridges, routers, hubs, and switches are required. These network devices are the physical devices that act as connecting devices to share the data or media between them. This article gives an overview of a bridge in a computer network.
What is a Bridge in a Computer Network?
A bridge is one of the network devices in computer networks to connect two or more communication networks or network segments and creates a single network. It provides interconnection with other computer networks, which use the same protocol. The multiple local area networks (LANs) can be connected to form a larger local area network.
In simple words, a bridge in computer networks is defined as, the network device that provides a connection between two local area networks (LANs) or two segments of the same local area network. It is also known as an adobe bridge or network bridging. It operates under the data link layer of the OSI model, hence referred to as layer 2 switches.
It connects different networks to provide communication between them. The working of the bridge in a computer network is similar to the repeater and hub to broadcast the data to every node. The MAC (Media Access Control) address or physical address of the data packet or frame on the segment of the network is utilized by the bridge to perform subsequent transmissions between the source and destination. With the help of MAC address on the particular segment network, the data traffic can be prevented. The following figure shows the bridge that connects two local area networks (LANs).
Types of Bridges in Computer Network
The following are the 3 types of bridges on computer networks discussed below.
This type of bridge is not visible to other stations or devices on the network. It is not to reconfigure the station because the bridge is either added or deleted from the network. The function of the transparent bridge is to block or forward the data packet based on the MAC address. It is the most popular type of bridge used in computer networks.
this type of bridge is used to convert one networking system to another. That means it translates the received data. For example, two different networks such as the token ring network and the Ethernet network can be connected using the translational bridge. Depending on the direction, it can remove or add the fields and information from the frame when needed.
This type of bridge is designed by IBM for the token ring networks. The entire route of the frame is embedded within the frame and the routing operation is performed by the source station to forward the frame and follow the specific route. The special frame discovered by the host is called as discovery frame. It spreads over the whole network and uses all the paths possible to reach the destination.
Uses of Bridge in Computer Network
In computer networks, the bridges are used to connect multiple local area networks with the same protocol and achieve communication between the components or devices, or nodes connected to the network. The use of the bridge in a computer network is explained below.
- When the multiple local area networks are joined together to form a single local area network using the bridge, the capacity of the network is multiplied and increased.
- When the data frame is received, the database in the bridge helps to decide whether to transmit or discard the data frame.
- The function of the bridge takes place in the data link layer of the OSI model to transmit the data frames to the multiple nodes in the network.
- The data frame is passed and discarded by the bridge only when the data frame contains the MAC address or destination address.
- Similarly, the data frame is forwarded towards it only when the frame contains a MAC address in the network, which is connected.
- A single faulty node is prevented from the network by forwarding or discarding the frame.
- Helps to broadcast the frames to every node even if the MAC address or destination address is not available.
- The wireless networks with wireless segments can be connected using a wireless bridge.
Functions of Bridges in the Network
The bridge in a computer network is used to block or forward the data based on the MAC address of the destination, which is written into each frame of data. When the destination address is on a network, the bridge helps in forwarding the data to the other connected networks. If there is no address, then it blocks the data from passing.
- The functions of the bridge in the network are given below.
- The bridges in networks are used to divide the local area network (LAN) into various segments.
- These works on the OSI model under the data link layer
- These are used to store the MAC address of computers in the network
- These are used to reduce the traffic in the network.
- These are used to filter the content by using the MAC address of the source and destination.
- Used for interconnecting two LANs using the single and same protocol
- Multiple virtual LANs can be connected to form a single larger LAN
- A bridge can switch to any type of data packets such as Apple talk packets or IP packets above the network layer because the payload field of the data frame is not considered. Only the MAC address or destination address of the frame is considered to block or forward the data to the nodes in the network.
Bridges are the network devices that are used to interconnect two or more computer networks together and divide the LAN into multiple segments. These don’t broadcast traffic effectively but manages to broadcast the traffic to the segments of the network. The advantages/disadvantages of the bridge in a computer network are discussed below
The advantages of the bridge in the computer network include the following.
- Extension of the Network: The bridges are used as a repeater to extend the network. That means thee networks with different topologies can be connected
- Increases Bandwidth: Separate collision domain is shared by some of the individual nodes present on the network, which results in increased bandwidth.
- The reliability of the network is high to maintain the network easily. The traffic on the network can be reduced by dividing the local area network into several segments.
- When the different MAC protocols are used for different segments, frame buffering is created.
- The transparency of protocol is at a higher level because the bridges function at the MAC layer.
- No special hardware or software or architecture is required to install the bridge in the network to provide functional support because they should be transparent.
The disadvantages of the bridge in the computer network include the following.
- The cost of the bridges is more when compared to hubs and repeaters. It is mainly used only in the network traffic load of the LAN. While in variable data load, either hub or repeater is used.
- The speed of the network is slow when compared to the repeater due to the frame buffering and relays.
- The potential performance of the network is poor because additional processing is required to view the MAC address of the frame on the network.
- Individual filtering of the broadcast traffic is not possible by the bridge.
- During the forward of broadcast traffic, broadcast storms are formed due to the high broadcast traffic on the network.
Thus, this is all about an overview of a bridging or bridge in a computer network – definition, use of the bridge in a computer network, types, functions, advantages, and disadvantages of the bridge in computer networks. The purpose of the bridge in computer networks is to connect different components of the network to form a single network. Here is a question for you, “What are the applications of the bridge in computer networks?”