Switches were initially introduced to provide higher-performance connectivity than hubs, because switches define multiple collision domains.
Switches have always been able to process data at a faster rate than routers, because the switching functionality is implemented in hardwarein Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs)rather than in software, which is how routing has traditionally been implemented. However, switching was initially restricted to the examination of Layer 2 frames. With the advent of more powerful ASICs, switches can now process Layer 3 packets, and even the contents of those packets, at high speeds.
The following sections first examine the operation of traditional Layer 2 switching. Layer 3 switchingwhich is really routing in hardwareis then explored.
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