A multilayer switch is a network device that efficiently routes traffic based on layer 3 data. Unlike traditional routers, which examine layer 3 data and tend to be slower, multilayer switches utilize cut-through processing techniques to enhance routing speeds.
Advantages of Multilayer Switches
1. Faster Routing Speeds: Multilayer switches employ cut-through processing techniques to quickly move traffic based on layer 3 data, resulting in improved performance compared to routers.
2. Hardware to Software Transition: With advancements in technology, routing lookup tasks have been transferred from software to ASIC chips. This transition allows layer 3 switches to inspect each packet at high speeds, similar to routers, without the need for proprietary cut-through techniques.
3. Routing Switch Capabilities: A layer 3 switch that supports routing protocols and packet-by-packet inspection is referred to as a “routing switch.” This functionality allows for more advanced routing capabilities.
The Transition from Hardware to Software
In the past, cut-through switching, pioneered by IP Switch and Cabletron’s SecureFast switches, was used to boost routing speeds. This approach involved inspecting the first packet at layer 3 and then sending the rest at layer 2, effectively bypassing slower layer 3 processing. However, as routing tasks began to be offloaded to specialized ASIC chips, multilayer switches were able to perform packet-by-packet inspection at high speeds without relying on cut-through techniques.
What is the difference between a multilayer switch and a router?
The main difference is in their processing methods. Multilayer switches utilize cut-through processing techniques to enhance routing speeds, while routers examine layer 3 data but tend to be slower.
What is a routing switch?
A routing switch is a layer 3 switch that supports routing protocols and packet-by-packet inspection. It combines the capabilities of a switch and a router.
Multilayer switches provide faster routing speeds and can perform packet-by-packet inspection like routers, thanks to advancements in hardware and software. By transitioning routing lookup tasks from software to specialized ASIC chips, multilayer switches offer improved performance and advanced routing capabilities.