Main Types of Physical Topologies
The following sections discuss the physical topologies used in networks and other related topics.
A linear bus topology consists of a main run of cable with a terminator at each end (See fig. 1). All nodes (file server, workstations, and peripherals) are connected to the linear cable. Ethernet and LocalTalk networks use a linear bus topology.
Advantages of a Linear Bus Topology
Disadvantages of a Linear Bus Topology
Data on a star network passes through the hub or concentrator before continuing to its destination. The hub or concentrator manages and controls all functions of the network. It also acts as a repeater for the data flow. This configuration is common with twisted pair cable; however, it can also be used with coaxial cable or fiber optic cable.
Advantages of a Star Topology
Disadvantages of a Star Topology
A star-wired ring topology may appear (externally) to be the same as a star topology. Internally, the MAU (multistation access unit) of a star-wired ring contains wiring that allows information to pass from one device to another in a circle or ring (See fig. 3). The Token Ring protocol uses a star-wired ring topology.
A tree topology combines characteristics of linear bus and star topologies. It consists of groups of star-configured workstations connected to a linear bus backbone cable (See fig. 4). Tree topologies allow for the expansion of an existing network, and enable schools to configure a network to meet their needs.
Advantages of a Tree Topology
Disadvantages of a Tree Topology
A consideration in setting up a tree topology using Ethernet protocol is the 5-4-3 rule. One aspect of the Ethernet protocol requires that a signal sent out on the network cable reach every part of the network within a specified length of time. Each concentrator or repeater that a signal goes through adds a small amount of time. This leads to the rule that between any two nodes on the network there can only be a maximum of 5 segments, connected through 4 repeaters/concentrators. In addition, only 3 of the segments may be populated (trunk) segments if they are made of coaxial cable. A populated segment is one which has one or more nodes attached to it . In Figure 4, the 5-4-3 rule is adhered to. The furthest two nodes on the network have 4 segments and 3 repeaters/concentrators between them.
This rule does not apply to other network protocols or Ethernet networks where all fiber optic cabling is used.
Considerations When Choosing a Topology: