MAC address

In computer networking a Media Access Control address (MAC address) is a unique identifier attached to most forms of networking equipment. Most layer 2 network protocols use one of three numbering spaces managed by the IEEE: MAC-48, EUI-48, and EUI-64, which are designed to be globally unique. Not all communications protocols use MAC addresses, and not all protocols require globally unique identifiers. The IEEE claims trademarks on the names 'EUI-48' and 'EUI-64'. (The 'EUI' stands for Extended Unique Identifier.)

ARP/RARP is commonly used to map the layer 2 MAC address to an address in a layer 3 protocol such as Internet Protocol (IP). On broadcast networks such as Ethernet the MAC address allows each host to be uniquely identified and allows frames to be marked for specific hosts. It thus forms the basis of most of the layer 2 networking upon which higher OSI Layer protocols are built to produce complex, functioning networks.