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A hub is a small, simple, inexpensive network device that joins multiple computers together. Most hubs manufactured today support the Ethernet standard. Non-Ethernet hubs (Token Ring, for example) also exist, but Ethernet is always used in home networking. Technically speaking, hubs operate as Layer 2 devices in the OSI model. To join a group of computers with an Ethernet hub, one connects an Ethernet cable (that has an RJ-45 connector attached) into the hub, then connect the other end of the cable each computer's network interface card (NIC). Hubs also require external power and can be connected to other hubs, switches, or routers. One good way to differentiate between Ethernet hubs is by the speed (data rate) they support. The most basic Ethernet hubs support 10 Mbps speeds. Newer hubs support 100 Mbps Ethernet. To help users move ahead to the newer technology while still supporting the old, some hubs support both 10 Mbps and 100 Mbps data rates. These are so-called "dual-speed" or "10/100" hubs. A common differentiator in hubs is the number of ports they support. Four- and five-port hubs are most common in home networks, but eight- and 16-port hubs can be found in some home and small office environments.
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