The term Ethernet switch is used synonymously with a network switch. Regardless of the term you use, an Ethernet switch is nothing but a particular device that helps connect different segments or different devices on a particular network. An Ethernet switch is an important part of how the Ethernet protocol works to transmit data. The Ethernet protocol itself dictates that data gets transmitted at a particular speed and functionality or effectiveness. In keeping with this protocol, an Ethernet switch must also be capable of transmitting data in
10/100 megabits per second or
10/100/1000 megabits per second per port
It would be worthwhile to cast a glance at the different kinds of switches and the roles or functions that such Ethernet switches perform in a particular network.
Interestingly, the first Ethernet switch came into the world in the year 1990.
What does an Ethernet switch do?
An Ethernet switch can be likened to the role performed by a postman. In his mailbag, one postman may get letters meant for several hundred people. But, the postman’s role is to segregate the mail and ensure that the right letter reaches the right person or addressee. A switch therefore, needs to be an intelligent device that can sort through the network traffic and direct the flow to the intended destination.
An Ethernet switch is deployed in a network depending on the kind of performance and connectivity and even data analysis that it is required to do. For instance, when a network has to be kept even more secure than normal, an Ethernet switch may be placed in between WAN routers. Quite a few service providers also build in network firewalls into such devices.
What are the different types of Ethernet switches?
While there are a few ways in which you can classify and segregate different types of Ethernet switches, here are a few terms that make it easier to understand how one Ethernet Switch differs from the other:
Cut through Ethernet switch – this is probably the most basic of Ethernet switches which has the advantage of working really fast because it forwards the data packets that it receives directly to the intended destination.
Form factor Ethernet switches – as the term denotes, Ethernet switches can come in different forms such as those that are mounted on a rack or those that are mounted on a desktop,
Managed Ethernet switches – these switches can be called as the smarter or better switches because it gives the network administrator a great deal of flexibility and power to manage their performance. For instance, enterprise managed network switches can deliver command line interface, web interface and Simple Network Management Protocol capabilities to the network administrator
Store and forward switch – again, as the term denotes, this particular Ethernet switch receives all the data coming through the network and stores them in its memory. This storage is a temporary operation. The Ethernet switch then goes on to forward the data as and when it is required by the destination device. Most network experts state that this is the more reliable of Ethernet switches.