Repeaters are the basic unit used in networks to connect separate segments. Repeaters take incoming frames, regenerate the preamble, amplify the signals, and send the frame out all other interfaces. Repeaters operate in the physical layer of the OSI model. Because repeaters are not aware of packets or frame formats, they do not control broadcasts or collision domains. Repeaters are said to be protocol transparent because they are not aware of upper-layer protocols such as IP, IPX, and so on.

One basic rule of using repeaters is the 5-4-3 Rule. The maximum path between two stations on the network should not be more than 5 segments with 4 repeaters between those segments and no more than 3 populated segments. Repeaters introduce a small amount of latency, or delay, when propagating the frames. A transmitting device must be able to detect a collision with another device within the specified time after the delay introduced by the cable segments and repeaters is factored in. The 512 bit-time specification also governs segment lengths. A more detailed explanation of the specification can be found at doc/cisintwk/ito_doc/ethernet.htm. Figure 4-17 illustrates an example of the 5-4-3 Rule.

Figure 4-17 Repeater 5-4-3 Rule

5 Segments, 4 Repeaters Host Z
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