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modular chassis

A hardware device that is designed for expansion and accepts a variety of plug-in modules of different types. High-end network switches and routers are often built with a modular chassis. See line card.

A Modular Chassis
Cabletron's earlier MMAC PLUS was a network hub that supported Ethernet, Token Ring, FDDI and ATM networks. The boards plugged into the backplane, which was a bridge between the various topologies. (Image courtesy of Cabletron Systems.)

line card

A printed circuit board that provides a transmitting/receiving port for a local area network (LAN) or a carrier's telephone or wide area network (WAN). Line cards plug into telephone company switches and high-end routers, which have a modular chassis that accepts a range of cards.

Small and medium-size routers have a fixed number of ports, typically Ethernet, and the line card circuitry is built into each port. In a user's desktop or laptop computer, the counterpart of the line card is a circuit on the motherboard or a plug-in network card (see network adapter).

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