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Router (computing

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the network device. For the woodworking tool, see Router (woodworking).

A typical home or small office router showing the ADSL telephone line andEthernet network cable connections

A Cisco ASM/2-32EM router deployed at CERN in 1987

A router[a] is a networking device that forwards data packets between computer networks. Routers
perform the traffic directing functions on the Internet. A data packet is typically forwarded from one
router to another through the networks that constitute the internetwork until it reaches its destination
A router is connected to two or more data lines from different networks.[b] When a data packet comes
in on one of the lines, the router reads the address information in the packet to determine the
ultimate destination. Then, using information in its routing table or routing policy, it directs the packet
to the next network on its journey. This creates an overlay internetwork.
The most familiar type of routers are home and small office routers that simply pass IP
packets between the home computers and the Internet. An example of a router would be the owner's
cable or DSL router, which connects to the Internet through an Internet service provider (ISP). More
sophisticated routers, such as enterprise routers, connect large business or ISP networks up to the
powerful core routers that forward data at high speed along the optical fiber lines of the Internet
backbone. Though routers are typically dedicated hardware devices, software-based routers also











1.5Internet connectivity and internal use

2Historical and technical information


4See also



7External links

When multiple routers are used in interconnected networks, the routers exchange information about
destination addresses using a dynamic routing protocol. Each router builds up a routing table listing
the preferred routes between any two systems on the interconnected networks. [3]
A router has interfaces for different physical types of network connections, such as copper cables,
fibre optic, or wireless transmission. It also contains firmware for different
networking communications protocol standards. Each network interface uses this specialized
computer software to enable data packets to be forwarded from one protocol transmission system to
Routers may also be used to connect two or more logical groups of computer devices known
as subnets, each with a different network prefix. The network prefixes recorded in the routing table
do not necessarily map directly to the physical interface connections. [4]
A router has two stages of operation called planes:[5]

Control plane: A router maintains a routing table that lists which route should be used to
forward a data packet, and through which physical interface connection. It does this using
internal pre-configured directives, called static routes, or by learning routes using a
dynamic routing protocol. Static and dynamic routes are stored in the Routing Information Base
(RIB). The control-plane logic then strips non essential directives from the RIB and builds a
Forwarding Information Base (FIB) to be used by the forwarding-plane.

Forwarding plane: The router forwards data packets between incoming and outgoing
interface connections. It routes them to the correct network type using information that the
packet header contains. It uses data recorded in the routing table control plane.

Routers may provide connectivity within enterprises, between enterprises and the Internet, or
between internet service providers' (ISPs) networks. The largest routers (such as the Cisco CRS1 or Juniper T1600) interconnect the various ISPs, or may be used in large enterprise networks.
Smaller routers usually provide connectivity for typical home and office networks. Other networking
solutions may be provided by a backbone Wireless Distribution System (WDS), which avoids the
costs of introducing networking cables into buildings.
All sizes of routers may be found inside enterprises.[7] The most powerful routers are usually found in
ISPs, academic and research facilities. Large businesses may also need more powerful routers to
cope with ever increasing demands of intranet data traffic. A three-layer model is in common use, not
all of which need be present in smaller networks.[8]


A screenshot of the LuCI web interface used by OpenWrt. This page configures Dynamic DNS.

Access routers, including 'small office/home office' (SOHO) models, are located at customer sites
such as branch offices that do not needhierarchical routing of their own. Typically, they are optimized
for low cost. Some SOHO routers are capable of running alternative free Linux-based firmwares
like Tomato, OpenWrt or DD-WRT.[9]

Distribution routers aggregate traffic from multiple access routers, either at the same site, or to
collect the data streams from multiple sites to a major enterprise location. Distribution routers are
often responsible for enforcing quality of service across a wide area network (WAN), so they may
have considerable memory installed, multiple WAN interface connections, and substantial onboard
data processing routines. They may also provide connectivity to groups of file servers or other
external networks.

See also: Universal Plug and Play § Problems with UPnP, and Wi-Fi Protected Setup
§ Vulnerabilities
External networks must be carefully considered as part of the overall security strategy. A router may
include a firewall, VPN handling, and other security functions, or these may be handled by separate
devices. Many companies produced security-oriented routers, including Cisco PIX series, Juniper
NetScreen and WatchGuard. Routers also commonly perform network address translation, (which
allows multiple devices on a network to share a single public IP address [10][11][12]) and stateful packet
inspection. Some experts argue that open source routers are more secure and reliable than closed
source routers because open source routers allow mistakes to be quickly found and corrected. [13]

In enterprises, a core router may provide a "collapsed backbone" interconnecting the distribution tier
routers from multiple buildings of a campus, or large enterprise locations. They tend to be optimized
for high bandwidth, but lack some of the features of Edge Routers.[14]

Internet connectivity and internal use[edit]

Routers intended for ISP and major enterprise connectivity usually exchange routing information
using the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). RFC 4098 standard defines the types of BGP routers
according to their functions:[15]

Edge router: Also called a Provider Edge router, is placed at the edge of an ISP network. The
router uses External BGP to EBGP routers in other ISPs, or a large enterpriseAutonomous

Subscriber edge router: Also called a Customer Edge router, is located at the edge of the
subscriber's network, it also uses EBGP to its provider's Autonomous System. It is typically used
in an (enterprise) organization.

Inter-provider border router: Interconnecting ISPs, is a BGP router that maintains BGP
sessions with other BGP routers in ISP Autonomous Systems.

Core router: A core router resides within an Autonomous System as a back bone to carry
traffic between edge routers.[16]

Within an ISP: In the ISP's Autonomous System, a router uses internal BGP to communicate
with other ISP edge routers, other intranet core routers, or the ISP's intranet provider border

"Internet backbone:" The Internet no longer has a clearly identifiable backbone, unlike its
predecessor networks. See default-free zone (DFZ). The major ISPs' system routers make up
what could be considered to be the current Internet backbone core. [17] ISPs operate all four types
of the BGP routers described here. An ISP "core" router is used to interconnect its edge and
border routers. Core routers may also have specialized functions in virtual private
networks based on a combination of BGP and Multi-Protocol Label Switching protocols.[18]

Port forwarding: Routers are also used for port forwarding between private Internet
connected servers.[7]

Voice/Data/Fax/Video Processing Routers: Commonly referred to as access
servers or gateways, these devices are used to route and process voice, data, video and fax
traffic on the Internet. Since 2005, most long-distance phone calls have been processed
as IP traffic (VOIP) through a voice gateway. Use of access server type routers expanded with
the advent of the Internet, first with dial-up access and another resurgence with voice phone

Larger networks commonly use multilayer switches, with layer 3 devices being used to
simply interconnect multiple subnets within the same security zone, and higher layer switches
when filtering, translation, load balancing or other higher level functions are required, especially
between zones.

Historical and technical information[edit]

Avaya ERS 8600 (2010)

The very first device that had fundamentally the same functionality as a router does today was
the Interface Message Processor (IMP); IMPs were the devices that made up the ARPANET, the
first TCP/IP network. The idea for a router (called "gateways" at the time) initially came about
through an international group of computer networking researchers called the International Network
Working Group (INWG). Set up in 1972 as an informal group to consider the technical issues
involved in connecting different networks, later that year it became a subcommittee of
the International Federation for Information Processing.[19] These devices were different from most
previous packet switching schemes in two ways. First, they connected dissimilar kinds of networks,
such as serial lines and local area networks. Second, they were connectionless devices, which had
no role in assuring that traffic was delivered reliably, leaving that entirely to the hosts.[c]
The idea was explored in more detail, with the intention to produce a prototype system as part of two
contemporaneous programs. One was the initial DARPA-initiated program, which created
the TCP/IP architecture in use today.[20] The other was a program at Xerox PARCto explore new
networking technologies, which produced the PARC Universal Packet system; due to corporate
intellectual property concerns it received little attention outside Xerox for years. [21] Some time after
early 1974, the first Xerox routers became operational. The first true IP router was developed by
Virginia Strazisar at BBN, as part of that DARPA-initiated effort, during 1975-1976. By the end of
1976, three PDP-11-based routers were in service in the experimental prototype Internet. [22]
The first multiprotocol routers were independently created by staff researchers
at MIT and Stanford in 1981; the Stanford router was done by William Yeager, and the MIT one
by Noel Chiappa; both were also based on PDP-11s.[23][24][25][26] Virtually all networking now uses
TCP/IP, but multiprotocol routers are still manufactured. They were important in the early stages of
the growth of computer networking, when protocols other than TCP/IP were in use. Modern Internet
routers that handle both IPv4 and IPv6 are multiprotocol, but are simpler devices than routers
processing AppleTalk, DECnet, IP and Xerox protocols.
From the mid-1970s and in the 1980s, general-purpose mini-computers served as routers. Modern
high-speed routers are highly specialized computers with extra hardwareadded to speed both
common routing functions, such as packet forwarding, and specialised functions such
as IPsec encryption. There is substantial use of Linux and Unixsoftware based machines,
running open source routing code, for research and other applications. Cisco's operating system was
independently designed. Major router operating systems, such as those from Juniper
Networks and Extreme Networks, are extensively modified versions of Unix software.

Further information: Routing and IP forwarding
The main purpose of a router is to connect multiple networks and forward packets destined either for
its own networks or other networks. A router is considered a layer-3 device because its primary
forwarding decision is based on the information in the layer-3 IP packet, specifically the destination
IP address. When a router receives a packet, it searches its routing table to find the best match
between the destination IP address of the packet and one of the addresses in the routing table.
Once a match is found, the packet is encapsulated in the layer-2 data link frame for the outgoing
interface indicated in the table entry. A router typically does not look into the packet payload, [citation
but only at the layer-3 addresses to make a forwarding decision, plus optionally other
information in the header for hints on, for example, quality of service (QoS). For pure IP forwarding,
a router is designed to minimize the state information associated with individual packets.[27] Once a
packet is forwarded, the router does not retain any historical information about the packet. [d]
The routing table itself can contain information derived from a variety of sources, such as
a default or static routes that are configured manually, or dynamic routing protocolswhere the router
learns routes from other routers. A default route is one that is used to route all traffic whose
destination does not otherwise appear in the routing table; this is common – even necessary – in
small networks, such as a home or small business where the default route simply sends all non-local
traffic to the Internet service provider. The default route can be manually configured (as a static
route), or learned by dynamic routing protocols, or be obtained by DHCP.[e][28]
A router can run more than one routing protocol at a time, particularly if it serves as an autonomous
system border router between parts of a network that run different routing protocols; if it does so,
then redistribution may be used (usually selectively) to share information between the different
protocols running on the same router.[29]
Besides making a decision as to which interface a packet is forwarded to, which is handled primarily
via the routing table, a router also has to manage congestion when packets arrive at a rate higher
than the router can process. Three policies commonly used in the Internet are tail drop, random early
detection (RED), and weighted random early detection (WRED). Tail drop is the simplest and most
easily implemented; the router simply drops new incoming packets once the length of the queue
exceeds the size of the buffers in the router. RED probabilistically drops datagrams early when the
queue exceeds a pre-configured portion of the buffer, until a pre-determined max, when it becomes
tail drop. WRED requires a weight on the average queue size to act upon when the traffic is about to
exceed the pre-configured size, so that short bursts will not trigger random drops.
Another function a router performs is to decide which packet should be processed first when multiple
queues exist. This is managed through QoS, which is critical when Voice over IP is deployed, so as
not to introduce excessive latency.
Yet another function a router performs is called policy-based routing where special rules are
constructed to override the rules derived from the routing table when a packet forwarding decision is
Router functions may be performed through the same internal paths that the packets travel inside
the router. Some of the functions may be performed through an application-specific integrated
circuit (ASIC) to avoid overhead caused by multiple CPU cycles, and others may have to be
performed through the CPU as these packets need special attention that cannot be handled by an