The function of a bridge is to connect separate networks together. Bridges connect different networks types (such as Ethernet and Fast Ethernet) or networks of the same type. Bridges map the Ethernet addresses of the nodes residing on each network segment and allow only necessary traffic to pass through the bridge. When a packet is received by the bridge, the bridge determines the destination and source segments. If the segments are the same, the packet is dropped ("filtered"); if the segments are different, then the packet is "forwarded" to the correct segment. Additionally, bridges do not forward bad or misaligned packets.
Bridges are also called "store-and-forward" devices because they look at the whole Ethernet packet before making filtering or forwarding decisions. Filtering packets, and regenerating forwarded packets enable bridging technology to split a network into separate collision domains. This allows for greater distances and more repeaters to be used in the total network design.