Network Interface Controller Card Functions – [Explained Easy]

Do you want to know the important functions of the Network Interface Controller Card in a quick and easy way? Those who have been around the field of computer networking are probably aware of this topic. However, my main aim is to deliver the basic knowledge of this field to the absolute newbies. In this blog post, I am sharing the details on various Functions of the Network Interface Controller Card in a simple and easy-to-understand way.

network interface controller card functions

Let’s just start with a short introduction to the term Network Interface Card (NIC).

What is Network Interface Card (NIC)?

A Network Interface Controller Card is an important device that connects your computer to a computer network. There are several types of cards in the market like Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. These devices are usually used to connect your computer to a wireless router or a wired router.

In order for a computer to be connected to a network, you need a network interface card. This card is plugged into the backside of your computer and it has a port. The ports can be RJ-45 or RJ-11 depending on the type of interface card you have. It is possible that you can use more than one interface card on your computer.

Alternatively, it is also termed as:

  • Network adapter
  • Physical network interface
  • LAN adapter
  • Network card

3 Key Functions of Network Interface Controller or Card

NIC is a key component in the computing world. No matter you have a laptop or desktop, each of these surly has Network Interface Card (NIC). Modern computing devices have pre-installed NICs. However, around 15 years ago, you were needed to buy this device separately if you wish to connect to a computer network. Nevertheless, here are the 3 key functions performed by Network Interface Card (NIC).

1. Connectivity

This is one of the major and most important functions of the network card. With the growth of computer networks across various fields, the importance of network cards simply can’t be ignored. Just like your laptop must have a USB port if you wish to connect it with a USB supported device like printer, scanner, and pen drive. Similarly, if you want to connect with a computer network at your office, then you’ll need this. Without a network card, you are not able to connect to a computer network in your office.

2. Conversion

Computers store data in digital format i.e. in the form of binary digits (0 and 1). Despite this, the communication of data is done via analog signals. Now, just take a moment and visualize a simple scenario. You have two computers A and B connected with the help of a network cable. Both computers store data in binary digit format, while data traveling through the network cable is analog. Who will perform this interconversion? Its the LAN adapter or network card which performs these conversions:

  • Digital to analog (Computer A sending data via cable)
  • Analog to digital (Computer B receiving data via cable)

3. Communication

Computers are connected to a computer network via the network interface controller card. Basically, there are two types of network interface cards in terms of connectivity mechanism. These types are:

  1. Wired NIC
  2. Wireless NIC

Regardless of the type, the basic function of this card is to provide the necessary communication among network devices including computers and printers. Without a network interface card, communication is not possible.

Look at it this way: you have two computers A and B. Both these computers are connected to a hub (a networking device) by using a standard UTP cable. Suppose computer A wants to send a file to computer B. In reality, it seems pretty straightforward but in reality, it is not. Computer A will provide the message to the network interface card which will perform the desired conversion. After conversion, the network interface card hands over the data to the UTP cable. The message travels through this cable in the form of signals. Now, at computer B, it is once again, the network interface card that receives the signals. It receives signals, performs the desired conversion, and hands over the message to computer B.

Take Away

Network Interface Cards are an essential component of any computer network. No matter you are working with a wired computer network or wireless network, an NIC is absolutely necessary. Network Interface Controller Cards have to play a vital role by performing key functions like connectivity, conversion, and communication in a computer network. So, take great care of your computer’s network interface cards for effective and efficient communication.

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