A Token Ring network is a local area network (LAN) in which all computers are connected in a ring or star topology and a bit- or token-passing scheme is used in order to prevent the collision of data between two computers that want to send messages at the same time. The Token Ring protocol is the second most widely-used protocol on local area networks after Ethernet. The IBM Token Ring protocol led to a standard version, specified as IEEE 802.5. Both protocols are used and are very similar. The IEEE 802.5 Token Ring technology provides for data transfer rates of either 4 or 16 megabits per second. Very briefly, here is how it works:
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- Empty information frames are continuously circulated on the ring.
- When a computer has a message to send, it inserts a token in an empty frame (this may consist of simply changing a 0 to a 1 in the token bit part of the frame) and inserts a message and a destination identifier in the frame.
- The frame is then examined by each successive workstation. If the workstation sees that it is the destination for the message, it copies the message from the frame and changes the token back to 0.
- When the frame gets back to the originator, it sees that the token has been changed to 0 and that the message has been copied and received. It removes the message from the frame.
- The frame continues to circulate as an "empty" frame, ready to be taken by a workstation when it has a message to send.