Network Interface Card [NIC]

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A Network Interface Card (NIC) provides a hardware interface between a computer and a network.

The term NIC most commonly refers to network adapter hardware in the form factor of an add-in card. These devices plug into the system bus of the PC and include jacks for network cables. NICs are usually Ethernet adapters, but some NICs support alternate physical layer protocols like ATM.

Many of the NICs come pre-installed as part of a total computer system configuration.


The primary consideration with Ethernet NICs is the speed they support — 10 Mbps traditionally, 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet, or both (dual-speed). Some Ethernet NICs include a built-in dial-up modem on the card.

Even though they now come standard on a motherboard, they are still referred to as “cards” by most.

Synonyms:

Network Card

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