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Q: Network Card - functions of the componenets ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Network Card - functions of the componenets
Category: Computers > Hardware
Asked by: danielchu-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 07 Dec 2003 01:35 PST
Expires: 06 Jan 2004 01:35 PST
Question ID: 284346
I need at least 50 web based references demostrating the componenets
of basic network cards.
The references have to be detail enough to describe down to the logic
gates level, such as AND, NAND, OR, XOR, and those logic gates.
Also, some references have to describe each component in a big picture
(not the logic gate level, but maybe register transfers or something
like that).
Except one thing, 
don't find the references that describe too much about the power
flows, such as voltages, resistors and such.
Thank you.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 07 Dec 2003 05:36 PST
Perhaps I'm not understanding your question correctly, but aren't
there millions upon millions of such logic gates on a network card?

What sort of description are you looking for that could possibly
provide detail "at the logic gate level"?

Clarification of Question by danielchu-ga on 07 Dec 2003 09:55 PST
Yes you are certainly right.
What I meant was that:
For example, RAM is constructed with a demultiplexer, arrays of
flip-flops, and a multiplexer.
CPU is constructed with an ALU, either BUS inside of the unit or on
the motherboard, possibly ROM for storing permanenet addresses, and

I need the logic diagram here.
I hope you understand what I mean and I hope it's clear.

Clarification of Question by danielchu-ga on 07 Dec 2003 09:57 PST
Also, a multiplexer is formed using whole bunch of AND gates and NOT gates.
So, I hope this clears out everything.
I need to be able to draw the network card picture like I am capable
of drawing the RAM or CPU pictures in the logic level.
Thank you.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 07 Dec 2003 10:43 PST
Thanks for that added information.  It helps, but the best way to
indicate what you need would be to provide one or two examples, so
researchers can be sure they are focusing on the right sorts of

Please have a look at the link below:

and let me know how close (or far off) it is to what you need.  If
this is the level of detail you're after, I can probably locate some
others, but I'm not sure there are 50 like this.

If you need something very different, perhaps you can provide a link
or two of your own to the type of information that best suits your


Clarification of Question by danielchu-ga on 07 Dec 2003 11:25 PST
Thanx for providing me that link.
It is really close to what I want.
Except, I would like something without those resistors or VCCs.
Also, I would like something with a kind of walkthrough of the process.
For example, like if there are bits coming in, where does it go and
how does it interact with the mother board, and such.
Thank you.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 07 Dec 2003 13:54 PST
Thanks again for clarifying.  Based on what you're asking for, it MAY
be possible to find a handful of links that, collectively, would give
you the information you're looking for.

I don't think it would possible to find 50, or anywhere near that
number...I'm thinking more like 4 or 5.  It's not a question of the
price you've's just a matter of the information being
rather sparse.

Since I can't answer the question with the parameters you've outlined,
I'll unlock it, and perhaps another researcher can assist you.

In the mean time, if you decide to modify your original question, just
let us know here, so we can direct our research accordingly.

Good luck...


Request for Question Clarification by maniac-ga on 07 Dec 2003 19:58 PST
Hello Danielchu,

Are you looking for a top down kind of approach of describing a
network (Ethernet) interface?

At a higher level of detail, you have diagrams such as
showing an illustration of a modern network card, describing it as
three major components
 - bus interface (PCI)
 - controller (MAC)
 - physical interface / transceiver (PHY)

At an intermediate level, information such as provided at
which is a little dated (1995) but covers the basic items including
the bus interface, network interface chips, board design, and so on to
produce a complete card.

As an alternative is a site such as
which has design information at several levels, but the main item is a
single controller chip. Older data may be better for the type of
information you originally requested but would not be a device you
would design / produce today.

At the lowest level of detail, you have diagrams such as that
suggested by pafalafa, or more specific for the PHY interface,
something like
which is a design guide Intel produces for one of their Ethernet
transceiver products. Note that the resistors, power sources, grounds,
and other items are key components at this level and for this kind of
interface. They may be quite a bit less apparent in the other
components (e.g., bus interface) but may still be required by the
relevant standards (e.g., PCI).

To compare / contrast with these more physical descriptions, it is
also possible to find drawings or descriptions of the logcal
operations. For example:
which describes the major functions (transmit, receive) as well as
interrupts the card generates on exceptional conditions.

At these levels of detail, I can look up a number of references,
showing alternative design approaches or perhaps a historical
description that can be used to compare / contrast the design changes
over the last 10 years. Is that what you are interested in? If so, let
me know if you have any additional constraints (such as a time limit,
specific busses to cover) so I can produce a proper answer.


Clarification of Question by danielchu-ga on 07 Dec 2003 21:07 PST
thanx for the help.
Yes, those are exactly what I am looking for.
Except, I wouldn't bother the historical side of stories.
But, any other references are valuable.
And yes,
I would like some general pictures of "how it works" and "what makes it work"
And yes again,
I would need some detail explanations of the low level components
except those resistors and VCC stuff.
Once again, thanx for the help.
If you have any further questions, please ask me and I will be happy
to clarify my question furthermore.

Clarification of Question by danielchu-ga on 08 Dec 2003 14:40 PST
I realized that maybe 50 is just too many for this topic.
I now would like to lower the amount of resources that I need to 10-15 resources.
Also, I would like some general picture on how does the network card
interact with the motherboard and the server.
So, network card I/O plus components.
Thank you.
Subject: Re: Network Card - functions of the componenets
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 09 Dec 2003 17:09 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello again, Daniel.

I?ve learned a lot while compiling the links to answer your question. 
Thanks for the opportunity.

In compiling the list, I tried to focus on presenting information that
gave a clear and visual presentation, and that covered a broad range
of scale and focus, including the physical and logical ?guts? of a
NIC, as well as the integration of the NIC into larger system

As is always the case, if anything here requires additional
explanation -- or if you simply need more information -- just let me
know by posting a Request for Clarification, and I?ll be happy to
assist you further.



First, here are the links to the sites already mentioned by me and
maniac-ga (thanks, Maniac!) earlier in the clarifications:


This is the detailed schematic of a NIC that was ?really close? to
what you?re looking for:


Maniac-ga provided a good link to a description of a Fast Ethernet card:


The link below provides an overview of the basic items comprising the NIC including
the bus interface, network interface chips, board design:


This site also has a lot of detail about NIC components:

Note that this site also has many links (internal, as well as to
external sites) that provide additional details about various NICs.


Intel?s documents (I?ve added a link to complement Maniac-ga?s)
provide a level of written detail commensurate with the diagram I
provided at the top of this list:



And then there are the descriptions of logical design that can be found here:


Moving on to the new links I unearthed:

This is one of the best schematics of the macrolayout of a NIC that I
came across, along with a lot of clear, explanatory text:

?This design document provides a brief description of the FPGA-based
Gigabit Ethernet/PCI network interface card implementation.?


Diagram and good write-up of a controller, one of the primary components of a NIC:
Intel 82543GC Gigabit Ethernet Controller


NIC's diagramed in the context of overall system architecture, with
good written summary:

MPC185 Security Processor Technical Summary

38-page manual for NIC installation, detailing connections, settings, etc.

1784-PKTx Network Interface Card


This paper is more technical than most, but has a lot of good detail
about NIC architecture in the contest of overall system hardware:

Event Building in an Intelligent Network Interface Card for the LHCb DAQ System


Two other fairly technical, but well-presented looks at an NIC from
both the inside (components) and outside (system integration):

Codesign of an ATM Network Interface card  from a System Level Specification

Simple overview and block diagram of a NIC:

ADSL PCI-NIC High-Performance PCI Network Interface Card


Very good illustrated overview, but dated 1996:

A 155 Mbps ATM Network Interface Controller Using Actel?s New 3200DX FPGAs


NIC benchmarking comparison...not 100% on target for what you asked,
but I thought it might be of interest just the same:

3ComŽ 3C996B-T Gigabit Server Network Interface Card: Iometer
Performance Testing Comparison


Well, there?s my list.  As I said above, if you need any additional
information, just let me know, and I?ll be happy to assist you


search strategy:  Google search on:  
("network interface card" OR nic) processor controller fifo (schematic
OR diagram OR figure)


(schematic OR diagram OR figure) intitle:"network interface card"
danielchu-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Excellent work.
Thanx for helping me.
All the sources are helpful.
I am truly appreciately.

Subject: Re: Network Card - functions of the componenets
From: maniac-ga on 11 Dec 2003 19:37 PST
Hello Danielchu,

Another reference that may be helpful is
which has information related to a complete implementation of an
Ethernet MAC (gates and up). It has been incorporated into some board
solutions - details on the site or on a complete "system on a chip"
that will be demonstrated in Mountain View, CA on December 15th, 2003.
For details on the latter demonstration, check out

Subject: Re: Network Card - functions of the componenets
From: pafalafa-ga on 13 Dec 2003 13:34 PST
Thanks so much,Daniel.  Glad to know these where what you needed.

Best of the season to you, and good luck with your work.


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