A Media Access Control address (MAC address) is a unique identifier assigned to network interfaces for communications on the physical

network segment. MAC addresses are used for numerous network technologies and most IEEE 802 network technologies including Ethernet. Logically, MAC addresses are used in the Media Access Control protocol sub-layer of the OSI reference model. MAC addresses are most often assigned by the manufacturer of a network interface card (NIC) and are stored in its hardware, the card's read-only memory, or some other firmware mechanism. If assigned by the manufacturer, a MAC address usually encodes the manufacturer's registered identification number and may be referred to as the burned-in address. It may also be known as an Ethernet hardware address (EHA), hardware address or physical address.

The MAC Address
An Introduction to MAC Addressing
An Article by your Guide Bradley Mitchell

In computer networking, the Media Access Control (MAC) address is every bit as important as an IP address. Learn in this article how MAC addresses work and how to find the MAC addresses being used by a computer... (see below)
What Is a MAC Address?
More of this Feature Part 2: Finding MAC Addresses Part 3: Changing MAC Addresses

The MAC address is a unique value associated with a network adapter. MAC addresses are also known as hardware addresses or physical addresses. They uniquely identify an adapter on a LAN. MAC addresses are 12-digit hexadecimal numbers (48 bits in length). By convention, MAC addresses are usually written in one of the following two formats:
MM:MM:MM:SS:SS:SS MM-MM-MM-SS-SS-SS

Join the Discussion "I am just confused about why the router will respond with its own MAC address and not the MAC address of the destination host. "If the router keeps an ARP table of IP-to-MAC addresses, then why doesn't it respond to the source host with the MAC of the destination host, regardless of whether they're on the same subnet?" -TJRUGG

The first half of a MAC address contains the ID number of the adapter manufacturer. These IDs are regulated by an Internet standards body (see sidebar). The second half of a MAC address represents the serial number assigned to the adapter by the manufacturer. In the example,
00:A0:C9:14:C8:29

Related Resources IP Tutorials

Elsewhere on the Web Vendor/Ethernet MAC Address Lookup

The prefix
00A0C9

indicates the manufacturer is Intel Corporation.

They allow computers to uniquely identify themselves on a network at this relatively low level. but the IP address changes as the network device moves from one network to another. IP addressing functions at the network layer (layer 3). DHCP also usually relies on MAC addresses to manage the unique assignment of IP addresses to devices. In this model. network functionality is subdivided into layers. This mapping is known as the ARP cache or ARP table. MAC addresses function at the data link layer (layer 2 in the OSI model). MAC vs. It's a slight oversimplification. . IP networks maintain a mapping between the IP address of a device and its MAC address.Why MAC Addresses? Recall that TCP/IP and other mainstream networking architectures generally adopt the OSI model. but one can think of IP addressing as supporting the software implementation and MAC addresses as supporting the hardware implementation of the network stack. ARP. the Address Resolution Protocol. The MAC address generally remains fixed and follows the network device. IP Addressing Whereas MAC addressing works at the data link layer. supports the logic for obtaining this mapping and keeping the cache up to date.

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