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dear experts,
i would like to know the differnce between
a gateway and Router.

1 Solution
Router refers to a specific appliance, gateway is a general term; could be a hardware router, software router, firewall etc.

Basically just terminology.

In networking terms, a "gateway" is generally considered to be a device that translates frames between two differing network topologies. For example, a gateway might be places between a Token-Ring and an Ethernet network and take Ethernet frames and re-package their payloads into Token-Ring frames, and vice-versa. A gateway typically does not operate above Layer 1 of the ISO model, and therefore can be thought of as a "Layer 1 device". The gatway rarely, if ever, makes any judgements in its work - it just re-packages data packets into different frame types. This makes them very efficient, but also very dumb.

A router takes in frames, extracts the packets contained therein, and makes a judgement regarding the next hop the data should take. It then re-packages the packet into a frame and send it out the interface that corresponds to that judgement. Routers typically work at Layer 3 of the ISO model.  The router is constantly making judgements about the packets it is routing (most efficient path, if its expired, etc). This makes it relatively smart, but also much slower in operation as compared to a gateway.
Sandip is right just to add to that gateways operate on any level of the OSI model depending on what it does. like for example translating charachter encodings from ASCII to EBCDIC or IP to IPX
Good question though - It seems that words like gateway and proxy are slapped on to just about anything these days. I would refer to a mail relay as an SMTP or mail gateway for example.

They can also be referered to as message or mail routers. And both refer to a pure layer 7 function.

It really depends on the context - PsiCop has the technical definition right by the looks however I've never met anyone in product marketing who knows the OSI model!


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