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A router is a computer networking device that determines the next network point to which a data packet should be forwarded toward its destination, a process known as routing. Routing occurs at layer 3 of the OSI seven-layer model.

Routing is most commonly associated with the Internet protocol, although other less popular routed protocols are still in use.

The original 1960s-era routers were general-purpose computers. Although general-purpose computers can be used for routing, modern high-speed routers are highly specialised computers, generally with extra hardware added to accelerate the common routing functions, such as packet forwarding.

Other changes are also made to improve reliability, such as using battery rather than main power, and using solid-state rather than magnetic storage. Modern routers have thus come to resemble telephone switches, which technology they are currently converging with and may eventually replace.

A router must be connected to at least two networks, or it will have nothing to route. A special variety of router is the one-armed router[?] used to route packets in a virtual LAN environment. In the case of a one-armed router the multiple attachments to different networks are all over the same physical link.

A router creates and/or maintains a table, called a "routing table" that stores the best routes to certain network destinations and the "routing metrics" associated with those routes. See the routing article for a more detailed discussion of how this works.

There are several manufacturers of routers including:

Routers can also be implemented in software only, running on normal computers:

See Also: Flapping router

Wood router

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