Multistation Access Unit


A Multistation Access Unit (MAU) is a networking hardware device used in token ring networks. It acts like a hub, providing a common point of connection for multiple devices in this type of network setup. It manages and controls the data transmission between connected devices to prevent collision and ensure smooth functioning.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Multistation Access Unit” is: “mʌltiː’steɪʃən æksɛs juːnɪt”.

Key Takeaways


  1. Multistation Access Unit (MAU): Also known as IBM token ring, it is a networking device that helps to connect computers in a network in a star configuration. It is primarily used in local area networks (LANs).
  2. Working Mechanism: MAU works based on the token passing method. This means that it helps to prevent data packets from colliding with each other during the transmission process, ensuring that the data reaches the intended device smoothly and without error.
  3. Functionalities: MAU can function in both single and dual ring networks and can also have different modes, such as active and beacon mode. Its capabilities can be expanded through the addition of more workstations or nodes, thus making it a versatile and adaptable option for network configuration.



A Multistation Access Unit (MSAU) is an important part of a computer network, specifically in a Token Ring network. It acts as an advanced hub, connecting multiple devices (stations) on the local area network (LAN) and managing the data traffic between them. This piece of hardware is significant because it facilitates the orderly passage of data packets from one station to another, using a token-passing protocol. Access to the network is granted when a station has hold of the token, ensuring that packet collisions are avoided. This device also includes fault tolerance capabilities – when a problem is detected, it can isolate the faulty station from the rest, allowing the network to continue its operations unaffected. Therefore, the MSAU’s role in coordinating communication and maintaining network stability is essential.


A Multistation Access Unit (MAU) is a key component used in the operation of a network system. The MAU’s essential purpose is to create a connection between different devices in a local area network (LAN). This critical technology serves the purpose of being a type of hub providing a common connection point for devices in a network. This common connection point enables the devices to communicate with each other seamlessly, enhancing network efficiency and output.Furthermore, the Multistation Access Unit (MAU) is specifically designed for token ring networks. Token ring is a network protocol which resides at the data link layer (DLL) of the OSI model. It uses a special three-byte frame called a “token” that travels around a logical “ring” of workstations or servers. In this system, the MAU controls access to the network to prevent data collisions, which happens when more than one device tries to send a message on a network at the same time. In sum, the MAU’s primary purpose is to control and guide this traffic to ensure smooth data transmission and reliable communication across a network.


1. Office Networks: One of the most common practical applications of Multistation Access Units (MAUs) is within a local area network (LAN) setup in offices. The MAU is used in IBM’s token ring network to interconnect workstations, servers, printers, and other devices, allowing them all to communicate and transfer data efficiently within the network.2. Universities or Large Campus Networks: In large spaces like universities or office campuses, MAUs are used to manage the substantial number of interconnected devices. They provide a central point where all network connections meet – making it easier to manage, troubleshoot and maintain the network devices.3. Manufacturing and Industrial Spaces: Many manufacturing companies and industrial spaces employ machinery with integrated computer systems. These are often connected to a central system using token-ring networks managed by MAUs. These systems help manage the operational flow, data collection, and transfer of information between the central system and individual machines.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

**Q: What is a Multistation Access Unit (MAU)?**A: A Multistation Access Unit (MAU), also known as Multiport Transceiver (MPT), is a hub device used in an IBM token ring network in which all the computers and devices are connected.**Q: What is the primary function of a Multistation Access Unit?**A: The primary function of a MAU is to manage the flow of data by directing data packets to their appropriate destinations in a network. **Q: How is a Multistation Access Unit connected in a network?**A: Devices in a network are connected in a star configuration to the MAU, and internally the MAU arranges these connections in a logical ring architecture.**Q: How does a Multistation Access Unit interact with token ring technology?**A: MAU is crucial for token ring technology as it controls and manages the token and the passing of the token around the ring network for data communication.**Q: Can a network function without a Multistation Access Unit?**A: Typically, a token ring network cannot function without a MAU, as it acts as the primary data traffic controller. Without it, data wouldn’t be able to reach its intended destination efficiently.**Q: What happens if a node in a Multistation Access Unit network fails?**A: If a node fails in a network with a MAU, the MAU has the ability to automatically bypass the malfunctioning node, which helps prevent the failure from affecting the whole network.**Q: Can Multistation Access Unit networks handle large amounts of data?**A: Yes, Multistation Access Units are designed to handle large amounts of data effectively and distribute it to the correct destination. However, the data flow volume is also dependent on other components of the network such as the performance and quantity of connected nodes. **Q: Can a Multistation Access Unit support multiple devices?**A: Yes, a MAU can support multiple devices, usually between 8 to 12 depending on the model, but multiple MAUs can also be interconnected to support a larger network. **Q: Does a Multistation Access Unit affect the data speed in a network?**A: The MAU itself does not directly affect the data speed in a network as it primarily acts as a routing hub. However, the overall data speed in a MAU-based network can be influenced by the quantity and performance of the connected devices, the data packets sizes, and the network configuration. **Q: Is Multistation Access Unit still in use today?**A: While MAUs and token ring technology have largely been replaced with newer technologies like Ethernet and Wi-Fi, they may still be found in certain legacy systems or older industrial setups for their effective data management capabilities.

Related Tech Terms

  • Token Ring Network
  • Active Monitor
  • Data Transmission
  • Network Topology
  • Bypass Mechanism

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