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5-4-3 rule
Last modified: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 

Ethernet and IEEE 802.3 implement a rule, known as the 5-4-3 rule, for the number of repeaters and segments on shared access Ethernet backbones in a tree topology. The 5-4-3 rule divides the network into two types of physical segments: populated (user) segments, and unpopulated (link) segments. User segments have users' systems connected to them. Link segments are used to connect the network's repeaters together. The rule mandates that between any two nodes on the network, there can only be a maximum of five segments, connected through four repeaters, or concentrators, and only three of the five segments may contain user connections.

The Ethernet protocol requires that a signal sent out over the LAN reach every part of the network within a specified length of time. The 5-4-3 rule ensures this. Each repeater that a signal goes through adds a small amount of time to the process, so the rule is designed to minimize transmission times of the signals.

The 5-4-3 rule -- which was created when Ethernet, 10Base5, and 10Base2 were the only types of Ethernet network available -- only applies to shared-access Ethernet backbones. A switched Ethernet network should be exempt from the 5-4-3 rule because each switch has a buffer to temporarily store data and all nodes can access a switched Ethernet LAN simultaneously.

Also see the Ethernet Designations chart in the Quick Reference section of Webopedia.

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For internet.com pages about 5-4-3 rule . Also check out the following links!

Related Links

Large Networks: 5-4-3 rule
Diagrams of network setups.

related categories

Ethernet

Network Topologies

Networks

related terms

1000Base-T

100Base-T

10Base-2

10Base5

10Base-T

2-205 rule

802.3ae

ATM

AUI

Gigabit Ethernet

IEEE 802 standards

local-area network

logical topology

network

physical topology

segment

shared Ethernet

switched Ethernet

switching hub

topology


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