Before the introduction of areas, the only OSPF routers having a specialized function were those advertising external routing information, such as Router RT5 in Figure 2. When the AS is split into OSPF areas, the routers are further divided according to function into the following four overlapping categories:
A router with all directly connected networks belonging to the same area. Routers with only backbone interfaces also belong to this category. These routers run a single copy of the basic routing algorithm.
A router that attaches to multiple areas. Area border routers run multiple copies of the basic algorithm, one copy for each attached area and an additional copy for the backbone. Area border routers condense the topological information of their attached areas for distribution to the backbone. The backbone in turn distributes the information to the other areas.
A router that has an interface to the backbone. This includes all routers that interface to more than one area (i.e., area border routers). However, backbone routers do not have to be area border routers. Routers with all interfaces connected to the backbone are considered to be internal routers.
A router that exchanges routing information with routers belonging to other Autonomous Systems. Such a router has AS external routes that are advertised throughout the Autonomous System. The path to each AS boundary router is known by every router in the AS. This classification is completely independent of the previous classifications: AS boundary routers may be internal or area border routers, and may or may not participate in the backbone.