Switches are networking devices that operate at Layer 2 or the data link layer of the OSI model. They connect devices in a network and use packet switching to send, receive, or forward data packets or frames of data over the network.
The adapter has many ports, which computers are connected to. When the data frame arrives at any network switch port, it checks the destination address, performs the necessary checks and sends the frame to the corresponding device(s), it supports unicast, multicast as well as broadcast communication.
- The switch operates at Layer 2, that is, the data link layer of the OSI model.
- It is a smart network device that can be considered as a multiport network bridge.
- It uses MAC addresses (Medium Access Control Sublayer Addresses) to send data packets to specified destination ports.
- It uses packet switching technology to receive and forward data packets from the source to the destination device.
- It supports unicast (one to one), multicast (one to multi), and broadcast (one to all).
- Full duplex mode, that is, communication in the channel occurs in both directions at the same time. Due to this, collisions do not occur.
- Switches are active devices, equipped with network software and network management capabilities.
- The switches can perform some error checking before forwarding the data to the intended port.
- The number of ports is higher - 24/48.
There is a variety of switches that can be broadly categorized into 4 types -
Unmanaged Switch - These are inexpensive switches that are commonly used in home and small business networks. It can be set up simply by connecting it to the network, after which it starts working immediately. When more devices need to be added, more switches are simply added by this plug and play method. It is referred to as managed because it does not require configuration or monitoring.
Managed switches are expensive switches used in organizations with large and complex networks, as they can be customized to increase the functionality of a standard switch. Enhanced features may be QoS (Quality of Service) such as higher security levels, better accuracy control, and full network management. Despite its cost, it is preferred in growing organizations due to its scalability and flexibility. Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) is used to configure managed switches.
LAN switch - Local Area Network (LAN) switches connect devices in an organization's internal local network. They are also referred to as Ethernet switches or data switches. These switches are particularly useful in reducing network congestion or bottlenecks. They allocate bandwidth in such a way that data packets in the network do not interfere.
PoE Switch - Power over Ethernet (PoE) switches are used in PoE Gogabit Ethernets. PoE technology combines transmission of data and power over the same cable so that devices connected to it can receive electricity as well as data over the same line. PoE switches provide greater flexibility and simplify cabling connections
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