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Media Access Control Address

Overview#

Media Access Control Address (MAC Address), also called a physical address, of a computer which is a unique identifier assigned to network interfaces for communications on the physical network segment.

Media Access Control Addresses are used as a network address for most IEEE 802 Network Technologies, including Ethernet and Wi-Fi. Logically, MAC addresses are used in the media access control protocol sublayer of the OSI-Model.

Media Access Control Addresses are most often assigned by the manufacturer of a network interface controller (NIC) and are stored in its hardware, such as 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 (BIA).

Media Access Control Address may also be known as an Ethernet hardware address (EHA), hardware address or physical address. This can be contrasted to a programmed address, where the host device issues commands to the NIC to use an arbitrary address.

A network node may have multiple NICs and each NIC must have a unique MAC address.

MAC addresses are formed according to the rules of one of three numbering name spaces managed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE): MAC-48, EUI-48, and EUI-64. The IEEE claims trademarks on the names EUI-48[1] and EUI-64,[2] in which EUI is an abbreviation for Extended Unique Identifier.

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