network architecture

Definition of network architecture in The Network Encyclopedia.

What is Network Architecture?

An umbrella term describing the topologies, access methods, protocols, and other technologies used for networking. The following are examples of network architectures for local area networks (LANs):

  • Ethernet:
    By far the most popular network architecture for LANs. Ethernet supports speeds of 10, 100, and 1000 Mbps and is based on the contention method of media access control.


  • Token Ring:
    An architecture developed by IBM. Legacy IBM networks support speeds of 4 and 16 Mbps, although vendors are working on standards for much higher speeds.


  • AppleTalk:
    An architecture developed by Apple for its Macintosh platform that is essentially a protocol suite that can run over Ethernet, Token Ring, or Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI) networks.


    An older LAN architecture developed by Datapoint for small bus topology networks.