10 April 2010

Bridge - network bridges

Definition: A bridge device filters data traffic at a network boundary. Bridges reduce the amount of traffic on a LAN by dividing it into two segments.

Bridges operate at the data link layer (Layer 2) of the OSI model. Bridges inspect incoming traffic and decide whether to forward or discard it. An Ethernet bridge, for example, inspects each incoming Ethernet frame - including the source and destination MAC addresses, and sometimes the frame size - in making individual forwarding decisions.

Bridges serve a similar function as switches, that also operate at Layer 2. Traditional bridges, though, support one network boundary, whereas switches usually offer four or more hardware ports. Switches are sometimes called "multi-port bridges" for this reason.

Transparent bridging operation

A bridge uses a forwarding database to send frames across network segments. The forwarding database is initially empty and entries in the database are built as the bridge receives frames. If an address entry is not found in the forwarding database, the frame is flooded to all other ports of the bridge, forwarding the frame to all segments except the source address. By means of these broadcast frames, the destination network will respond and forwarding database entry will be created.

As an example, consider three hosts, A, B and C and a bridge. The bridge has three ports. A is connected to bridge port 1, B is connected bridge port 2, C is connected to bridge port 3. A sends a frame addressed to B to the bridge. The bridge examines the source address of the frame and creates an address and port number entry for A in its forwarding table. The bridge examines the destination address of the frame and does not find it in its forwarding table so it floods it to all other ports: 2 and 3. The frame is received by hosts B and C. Host C examines the destination address and ignores the frame. Host B recognizes a destination address match and generates a response to A. On the return path, the bridge adds an address and port number entry for B to its forwarding table. The bridge already has A's address in its forwarding table so it forwards the response only to port 1. Host C or any other hosts on port 3 are not burdened with the response. Two-way communication is now possible between A and B without any further flooding.

source : about.com

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