What Is Ethernet Switching?

Ethernet Switching refers to the process of connecting multiple devices on an ethernet network. Ethernet switching must send data at a certain speed standard in order for computers on the ethernet network to function properly.

What is the speed standard required for ethernet switching to function correctly?

Ethernet switches (responsible for data transmission) must have either 10/100 Mbps or ports that perform at a data transmission speed of 10/100/1000Mbps. Ethernet switches can also perform at Gigabit speeds.

One thing to remember about ethernet switching is that ethernet switches can operate at different data speeds: one can be at 100Mbps, while another can operate at 10Gbps.

This idea that different switches can transmit data at different speeds is a genius one, and allows all devices to function on a network, even if they do not function at the same speeds. Each device can operate at a certain speed (no more), so some devices are not compromised if they operate at slower speeds than others.

Also, this prevents web traffic from data overload, as data packets are sent to their intended destination only, instead of being sent to every computer on the ethernet network.

An Example of Ethernet Switching: The Telephone Operator

One good example that provides a graphic picture regarding ethernet switching is that of a telephone operator. When someone places a call, the operator decides where the call goes and then puts the call through to the intended business or residence.

Once the call is placed through and finished, the telephone operator frees up the line so that other calls can be placed.

The same can be said for ethernet switching: when one device on the ethernet network has sent its data to the intended destination or recipient, the web traffic on that line is eliminated so that other data packs can be sent to their intended destinations.

Ethernet Switching and Ethernet Hubs

Ethernet switching involves the use of switches (or Ethernet switches), as opposed to ethernet hubs. What is the difference, you ask? Ethernet switches send data packets to one device on the ethernet network, as opposed to ethernet hubs that send data packets to all devices connected to the ethernet network.

There are two types of ethernet switching:

  1. managed switching
  2. unmanaged switching

While unmanaged switches work automatically, managed switches allow the user to decide where data goes, how often data is transmitted over an ethernet network, and so on.

One can also think of managed and unmanaged switching as the difference between trains and cars.

Unmanaged switches operate as trains do. When trains are on the track, they are headed to the same destination — as data packets on unmanaged switches are sent to all devices on the network.

Cars operate similar to managed switches in that, if a car finds one highway or road to have traffic congestion, the car can take another path. This is how managed switches operate when the parameters are set.