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First Post! Annoying Debate at Work.

  • From: Christopher Aldridge
  • Date: Sun Feb 29 05:34:20 2004

NOTE: I have been a nanog observer for nearly a year. The following may be slightly off topic, but it seems as though nanog is my last hope.


Recently at work, I’ve been battling fellow coworkers on a very simple debate. The fact that I will not “give in” on my argument really makes me look arrogant, but I absolutely refuse to let this one go without logical reason!


The argument non-persuasively put is as follows:


Is a USB Ethernet Adapter a “converter”?


Personally, I say “no”.


My coworkers seem to say “yes”.


My argument:

1)       Ethernet isnt “converted” to USB.  The adapted information from the ethernet segment may traverse the USB segment if the NIC adapts it to the CPU, but is never “converted” to USB.


          You can use USB for many things, thus making it an underlying “serial bus” in which other technologies can traverse.


 definition: USB (Universal Serial Bus) is a plug-and-play interface between a computer and add-on devices (such as audio players, joysticks, keyboards, telephones, scanners, and printers). With USB, a new device can be added to your     computer without having to add an adapter card or even having to turn the computer off.


          USB in this scenario would be synonymous with PCI, in regards to the type of technology that interfaces with the cpu.



2)       I cant seem to place “converter” above layer 1. Yet a Network adapter ( both PCI or USB ) have layer 2 mac addresses that are stored into the PROM from the manufactor. From my understanding, if an ethernet frame comes in via cat5, and is destined for the wrong MAC address, the traffic will not move up the OSI model and to the PC; It will be dropped right there and then. Only frames destined for the correct MAC or broadcast will traverse the USB portion. If this is true, then aparantly our “converter” is doing a lot more than “converting” ethernet to “USB”!   - Filtering, forwarding, encapsulating, de-encapsulating, etc.



3)       Just because a device has two physical mediums of connectivity, dosent make it a “converter”. My coworkers argue that a USB Ethernet adapter is an “Ethernet to USB Converter”. If this is true, then the following could be said:


          a.       A PCI Ethernet Adapter is a “converter” because it “converts” Ethernet to PCI.

          b.       An Alcatel switch w/ a T1 and a DS3 controller card would be a “converter” because it “converts” cat5 from the T1 card to coax on the DS3 card.

          c.       Lastly ( I love this one ), An integrated Ethernet adapter on a motherboard is a “converter” because it “converts” ethernet to uhh ??  processor? Riiiiight”



My co-workers arguments are basically that because Ethernet is plugged into one side, and usb is plugged into the other, it’s a converter.

I strongly that’s an understament if not an incorrect statement. Whats your take and why?

Input from ANY of you would be GREATLY appreciated. Otherwise, a simple “I aggree with you” will be fine also!


Thanks in advance!


Christopher Aldridge

Network Analyst