Image Credit: MilesTek Corporation

Network switches connect network devices to host computers and allow a large number of devices to share a limited number of ports. They increase network capacity and speed by examining and filtering data packets. Switches also regenerate forwarded packets, reducing collision rates and permitting the use of additional nodes.

How Network Switches Work

Network switches receive packets and compare their source and destination addresses to a list of network segments and addresses.  Packets are forwarded if the segments are different and filtered if the segments are the same. Often, high-traffic nodes or mission-critical computers are connected to a dedicated switch port.

This video explains how a networking switch works.

Types of Network Switches

The GlobalSpec SpecSearch database defines network switches as LAN or WAN capable, and allows industrial buyers to select boards or modules. As with other types of networking equipment, supported network protocols are important to consider. Switches support different types of Ethernet, and various VoIP standards.   

Some suppliers describe switches as unmanaged or managed.

  • Unmanaged switches have less network capacity, but are easy to install because they do not require configuration.
  • Managed switches provide greater flexibility and capacity, but require proper installation for local and/or remote use.

Product and Performance Specifications

Network switches are also specified according to data rate, memory, and the number of ports.  Because of protocol overheads, data transfer speeds may be less than listed. Network switch memory is used to store packets until the switch fabric can forward them to an output switch port.

Features and Applications

Network switches that are designed for use in computer rooms are often stackable or rack-mountable. Devices that support full duplexing can significantly increase bandwidths. Hardened products are also available, and are recommended for applications where high temperatures could damage sensitive components.

References

Network Switches vs. Network Routers

Network Switches and Data Transfer Speeds

How LAN Switches Work

 

 


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