Key Elements Of Ethernet/802.3 Networks

In this topic, you will learn about key components of the Ethernet standard that play a significant role in the design and implementation of switched networks. You will explore how Ethernet communications function and how switches play a role in the communication process.
Ethernet signals are transmitted to every host connected to the LAN using a special set of rules to determine which station can access the network. The set of rules that Ethernet uses is based on the IEEE carrier sense multiple access/collision detect (CSMA/CD) technology. You may recall from CCNA Exploration: Networking Fundamentals that CSMA/CD is only used with half-duplex communication typically found in hubs. Full-duplex switches do not use CSMA/CD.
Carrier Sense
In the CSMA/CD access method, all network devices that have messages to send must listen before transmitting.
If a device detects a signal from another device, it waits for a specified amount of time before attempting to transmit.
When there is no traffic detected, a device transmits its message. While this transmission is occurring, the device continues to listen for traffic or collisions on the LAN. After the message is sent, the device returns to its default listening mode.
If the distance between devices is such that the latency of the signals of one device means that signals are not detected by a second device, the second device may also start to transmit. The media now has two devices transmitting signals at the same time. The messages propagate across the media until they encounter each other. At that point, the signals mix and the messages are destroyed, a collision. Although the messages are corrupted, the jumble of remaining signals continues to propagate across the media.
Collision Detection
When a device is in listening mode, it can detect when a collision occurs on the shared media, because all devices can detect an increase in the amplitude of the signal above the normal level.
When a collision occurs, the other devices in listening mode, as well as all the transmitting devices, detect the increase in the signal amplitude. Every device that is transmitting continues to transmit to ensure that all devices on the network detect the collision.
Jam Signal and Random Backoff
When a collision is detected, the transmitting devices send out a jamming signal. The jamming signal notifies the other devices of a collision, so that they invoke a backoff algorithm. This backoff algorithm causes all devices to stop transmitting for a random amount of time, which allows the collision signals to subside.
After the delay has expired on a device, the device goes back into the "listening before transmit" mode. A random backoff period ensures that the devices that were involved in the collision do not try to send traffic again at the same time, which would cause the whole process to repeat. However, during the backoff period, a third device may transmit before either of the two involved in the collision have a chance to re-transmit.


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