Communication And Network Riser (CNR)

What is Communication and Network Riser (CNR)?

CNR, short for Communication and Network Riser, refers to the specification for different interfaces such as modem, audio, LAN and USB found in the core logic chipsets.

This technology was developed and introduced by Intel especially for the motherboards belonging to the ATX or Advanced Technology Extended family.

Understanding Communication and Network Riser (CNR)

What is Communication and Network Riser

Communications and Networking Riser is the slot integrated on some of the computer motherboards.

The design of these riser cards allows offering different types of functionality in the specialized audio, networking, and telephony devices irrespective of the combination on the CNR card.

This particular interface was developed by Intel with the main intention to replace their previous Audio Modem Riser cards.

These new cards offered two notable advantages over the earlier AMR cards such as:

As for the design, a few motherboards had the last PCI slot replaced by the CNR slot but in most of the cases the motherboard were engineered in such a way that it allowed the manufacturers to introduce the CNR that would share the same space as the last PCI slot.

Physically, the CNR slots consist of two rows of 30 pins. Based on their configuration these slots were classified into two specific heads such as:

There is the characteristic 8-pin PHY or Physical Layer interface in Type A CNR but, in comparison, the Type B CNR comes with a 17-pin MII or Media Independent Interface bus Local Area network or LAN interface.

However, both these types of CNRs are able to carry both AC 97 or Audio Codec 97 and USB or Universal Serial Bus signals.

The design, features and functionalities of the CNR as compared with the AMR offered significant cost saving potential to the manufacturers primarily because it allowed removing the analog I/O elements from the motherboard.

This, in turn, allowed the manufacturers to abide by the requirements of the US Federal Communications Commission or FCC certification for the CNR cards only and not of the whole motherboard.

This means that they could now avail a much quicker production to market time for the new motherboards.

This eventually led to mass production of CNR cards for use in several motherboards.

On the whole, the CNR cards helped the Original Equipment Manufacturers or OEMs to lower the cost manufacturing different subsystems such as:

As for the specification of the CNR, it is typically an open industry specification that defines a scalable interface and a motherboard riser card.

In addition to that, the specification also defines the specific architecture of the CNR for both regular as well as low profile riser cards and includes different aspects of the riser interface such as:

This specification is supported by Microsoft, different silicon suppliers as well as a variety of OEMs.

The main reason for the CNR to gain such widespread support is that it conforms to the current technologies such as Ethernet, analog modems and others.

Also, this particular technology supported expanding it for other developing technologies such as Digital Subscriber Line or DSL. The CNR bus however does not support an expansion slot.

The specification of CNR also defines the size of the board and the pin-out configuration according to it.

Here are the pin-out configurations of the Type A and Type B CNR for you.

The Type A CNR pin-out is as follows:

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On the other hand, the Type B CNR pin-out is as follows:

The functions of Pin 13 to Pin 30 of Type B CNR are the same as that of the Type A CNR.

With all this said, it is good to add that the CNR is not used today as it was found in the old Pentium III motherboards due to the integration of better components such as Ethernet, PCIe, and audio into it.

CNR Functions

The main function of the CNR is to integrate the Ethernet based Local Area Networks, broadband and multichannel audio and analog modem subsystems with the personal computers.

It functions in a specific way which involves:

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Most importantly, it removes the need for the analog I/O components which reduces the manufacturing costs of the motherboards as well.


This article has tried best to keep you informed about the Communications and Network Riser card and slots, which, however, is replaced by better on-board elements.

You now know about its functions, pin-out configuration and why it was used extensively in the older motherboards and other subsystems.