What is a Network Interface Card?


What is a Network Interface Card?

A network interface card, often known as a network adapter or NIC, is a crucial piece of hardware that enables devices like computers, servers, and other networking-capable equipment to connect to the internet. Network interface cards of all kinds, including PCIe cards and server network cards, are becoming more and more common due to their wide range of uses.What is a Network Interface Card

PCIe Applications in Machine Vision

Multiple frame-grabber boards can be used in a PCIe-based system, and each one can have a link to the system memory. Each frame grabber in the system is able to work at its maximum speed without influencing the performance of the others since the bandwidth of a PCIe link is dedicated to the data transfer it delivers. As a result, the inspection system can deliver the highest throughput possible.

The bi-directional bandwidth of PCIe is an additional appealing feature. This two-way capability has the potential to make co-processing in machine vision systems easier. The necessity to offload from the host CPU the process of translating the GigE Vision packets into usable images became increasingly obvious as GigE and 10GigE industrial cameras started making inroads into general purpose for machine vision applications.

The adoption of PCI Express in many upcoming Industrial PC generations will be ensured by its expansion potential as well as the benefits it already offers. Machine vision systems using its characteristics will be able to offer higher throughput and multi-channel capabilities not possible with the PCI bus.

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How Does a Network Interface Card Work?

The description of a network interface card (NIC) is fairly simple, but what exactly does one do and what does a NIC accomplish? A NIC card can transmit signals at the physical layer, act as an interface at the TCP/IP layer, and deliver data packets at the network layer. No matter on whatever tier the network interface controller is located, it serves as a bridge between a computer or server and a data network. The LAN card collects data from the user device when a user requests a web page, delivers that data to an internet server, and then retrieves the necessary data from the internet to display for users.

Types of Network Interface Card

The host interface, transmission speed, and application fields are just a few of the aspects that can be used to categorize network interface cards into different types. Details can be found in the section below.

Network Connection Based Classifications

There are wired NICs and wireless NICs, which differ in how they access the network. A wired NIC, as its name suggests, typically needs to attach a node to a network using a cable, such as an Ethernet or fiber optic cable. In order to connect to a wireless network, a wireless NIC card frequently includes a small antenna that communicates with the access point using radio waves.

Bus Interfaces Based Classifications

ISA (Industry Standard Architecture)

Network card that uses ISA (Industry Standard Architecture): In 1981, the ISA bus—a standardized bus design for IBM compatibles—was created. These days, the ISA bus interface is no longer recognized, and it is difficult to purchase in most retailers due to low card speed of 9Mbps.

PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect)

Network card with a PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) interface: The PCI bus was created in 1990 to take the place of the earlier ISA standard. Both 32 bit (133 MB/s transmission data) and 64 bit (266 MB/s transmission data) are fixed widths. This type of NIC card was initially utilized in servers before being gradually introduced to PCs. The majority of PCs today feature motherboard-integrated components rather than expansion cards. As a result, new bus interfaces, like PCI-X or USB interface, have taken the role of PCI network cards.

PCI-X (Peripheral Component Interconnect eXtended)

Network card using PCI-X (Peripheral Component Interconnect eXtended): PCI-X is an improved version of PCI bus technology. It can handle up to 1064 MB/s and runs at 64 bit. In many instances, PCI-X and PCI NIC devices are backwards compatible.

PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express)

Today, PCI Express is still widely used in computer designs. It separates traffic into distinct signal paths known as lanes and provides a bus interface that is substantially faster than PCI. With a single lane, devices can be set up to connect in various lane configurations depending on their overall bandwidth requirements.

Network Interface Card - PCIe

USB (Universal Serial Bus) Network Interface Card

The USB bus is an external bus standard. There are 3 versions with different data rates to work  with different devices. A wireless network card is also a type of NIC card designed for Wi-Fi connectivity.

Port Type Based Classifications

There are four types of NIC ports on the market, depending on the different cables attached. RJ-45 ports are used to connect  twisted pair cables (such as Cat5 and Cat6), AUI ports for thicker coaxial cables (such as AUI drop cables), BNC ports for thinner coaxial cables (such as BNC cables), and An optical port used for transceivers. (such as 10G/25G transceivers).

Transmission Speed Classifications

Based on different speeds, there are 10Mbps, 100Mbps, 10/100Mbps adaptive cards, 1000Mbps, 10GbE, 25G or even faster network cards on the market. The 10Mbps, 100Mbps, and 10/100Mbps adaptive NIC cards are suitable for small LANs, home applications, or daily office usage. A 1000Mbps NIC provides  higher bandwidth on Gigabit networks. Large enterprises and data centers welcome 10Gb/25Gb NIC cards or faster NIC cards.

Application Fields Based Classifications

Computer NIC

Computer NIC: Most new computers today have the NIC integrated into the motherboard, so there is no need for a separate LAN card. Usually offered at speeds of 10/100Mbps and 1Gbps, it allows your PC to communicate with other PCs or networks.

Server Network Card

The server NIC's primary function  is to manage and process network traffic. Compared to common PC network adapters, server adapters usually require faster data transfer speeds such as 10G, 25G, 40G and even 100G. Also, server adapters have  special network controllers that can take over many tasks from the CPU, resulting in lower CPU utilization. Check out our range of  server network card to meet your different speed requirements for server adapters.

NIC performance directly impacts data transfer speed across the  network. Whether you're looking for a network adapter for home use or a server network card for SMB or data center, before purchasing a network interface card, it’s important to understand what a network interface card is, the components and functions of a NIC, and the types of NIC available.

Find out more on our range of network interface card or share with us your project requirements.