Ethernet switches are LAN switches that support network tuning and bring the full network capacity to the end device. In this technology, LAN switching is used to divide the network into the smallest LAN segments for the purpose of load separation, with each microsegment being assigned to a station.
In principle, Ethernet switches work like multiport bridges on the link layer. The main difference lies in the switches' ability to learn about the connected stations. An Ethernet switch has a high port density and optimizes the connection of directly connected stations, whereas a bridge optimizes the connection of LAN segments. To enable real-time Ethernet, each end device is assigned a single LAN segment.
During transmission, all incoming data packets are forwarded only to the ports to which the respective destination address is connected. The switch therefore switches its own collision-free channel with the full Ethernet bandwidth between the receiving port and the output port.
Ethernet switches are comparable to hubs in terms of their physical structure; unlike hubs, they generally use only a single backplane bus with several 100 Mbit/s data throughput. They support redundancy circuits, work with address tables, offer default packet forwarding and filtering options. Filtering takes into account type filters for different packet formats for Ethernet, Subnetwork Access Protocol( SNAP), etc., broadcast filters and mask filters.
In addition to the classic Ethernet switches, there are the Smart Ethernet switches, which can be classified between the unmanaged Ethernet switches and the managed Ethernet switches. Furthermore, there are extremely powerful switch variants with the core switches, which are characterized by an enormously high data throughput. They are used for Gigabit Ethernet, 10 Gig abit Ethernet and 100 Gigabit Ethernet.