The Simple Guide to Network Interface Card(NIC)
A network interface card (NIC) is a hardware component which can make a computer connect to a network. It serves as a link for sending and receiving data, allowing the communication between computers and local area network (LAN) or large-scale network. It is also called network interface card, network adapter, LAN adapter or physical network interface.
A standard NIC is generally the combination of a slight circuit board integrated a controller chip, single or several metal slots, some other electronic components and a profile bracket. The bus interface is on the side of circuit board, which is inserted into the bus for exchanging data between computer and network. The metal port for connecting network is usually RJ-45 slot, which is mating with copper cables. But it could be the slot for transceiver modules in optic fiber communication. As for the profile bracket, you may have a easier way to install the NIC card into a computer with the help of it.
Let’s take an example with a more specific figure. Above figure is a 10Gtek 1G NIC with dual RJ-45 connectors and PCIe 2.0 standard I/O port for Intel E1G42ET, which is using Intel 82576 chips. It is a enterprise class NIC card. You can see a green slight circuit board. The Intel 82576 controller chips and other electronic components are integrated on it. The bus interface which has parallel metal lines is on the side of circuit board. It is a PCIe 2.0 connector, which supports speed up to 1Gb/s. The metal port for connecting cables usually is RJ-45 port. As for the profile bracket, it just has the feature that makes it easier to install the card in a small form factor/low profile computer case or server.
In the aspect of application, NIC card can be simply divided into PC application and enterprise application. Personal computers typically need a NIC to complete a connection in a local area network (LAN) or participate in Ethernet. As for enterprises, NIC acts as a link between servers and switches, offering a high performance in overall network system. NIC for enterprises requires a higher quality and faster speed than PC application. Therefore, optic fibers are introduced to solve the lower speed of transmission. This kind of NIC is integrated SFP port other than RJ-45 port for connecting transceivers and optic fibers in order to realize the high efficiency data transmission.
Let’ s look at an example again.
1Gb/s Ethernet Server Adapter (NIC), Compatible for Intel E1G42EF
Above figure is a 10Gtek 1G/s NIC card with dual SFP ports, which is using Intel E1G42EF Chipset. The biggest difference between this NIC card and the upper one is that this NIC has dual SFP ports, which can connect with SFP transceivers and optic fibers. That is to say, long distance and high effciency network connection can be realized by using this NIC.
Data rate and vendors
Being a key part in network connection, the data rate of NIC must be concerned. The NIC card supports Ethernet standard varying from 10Mb to 100Gb. There is one important thing you need to notice. The data rate of NIC does not necessarily determine the speed of the network connection. It is determined by the corresponding devices.
For example, the two NIC cards mentioned above support 1G Ethernet. If your routers or some other Ethernet devices support data rate up to 1G/s, it is a good and economical choice for using 1G NIC. However, if your routers or some other Ethernet devices support data rate up to 10G/s, using 1G NIC in 10G network connection means you will suffer the slow speed only up to 1G. Therefore, data rate is one of the most consideration factors when selecting NIC.
The major vendor of NIC include Allied Telesis, Broadcom(includes former Avago and Emulex), Buffalo Technology, Cavium(formerly QLogic), Chelsio, Cisco, D-Link, Intel, Marvell and Mellanox.
10Gtek also provides NIC with high performance, low-latency and flexibility. Please find more details in: