Physical Topology

What Does Physical Topology Mean?

Physical topology refers to the interconnected structure of a local area network (LAN). The method employed to connect the physical devices on the network with the cables, and the type of cabling used, all constitute the physical topology. This contrasts with logical topology, which describes a network’s media signal performance and how it exchanges divice data.


Techopedia Explains Physical Topology

Logical network topology is not always mapped to a specific physical topology. For example, twisted pair Ethernet is logical bus topology that is mapped to a physical star topology plan, while IBM’s token ring is a logical ring topology that is physically implemented as a star topology.

Types of physical topologies include:

  • Linear Bus Topology: A single cable to which all network nodes are directly connected. The cable has terminators at each end to prevent the loss of signal.
  • Star Topology: A topology with a single access point or a switch at the center of the topology; all the other nodes are connected directly to this point.
  • Tree (Extended Star) Topology: A combination of both the star and the linear bus topologies. This topology has multiple access points connected to the linear bus, while the nodes are connected to their respective access points.

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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…