Why use Layer 3 switches and how do they differ from Layer 2 switches?

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Why do we use Layer 3 (L3) switches, and how are they different from Layer 2 (L2) switches?
ASKED: January 26, 2009  10:06 PM
UPDATED: February 26, 2013  6:59 PM

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Layer 3, or L3, switches forward packets based on Layer 3 address, which is IP address. Layer 2, or L2, switches forward packets based on data-link layer, which is MAC address. An L3 switch is basically used to efficiently route inter-VLAN traffic or to do internal routing between multiple broadcast domains while keeping Layer 2 features such as spanning tree and trunking.

Hope this helps.

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Agreed – Think of layer 3 switches as switches that have a routing function embeeded within themselves…

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  • Rached
    Not much to add, sudhanshu was clear. First is to understand difference between layer two and layer 3 dealing whith internal trafic is not routing but bridging, .. a learn and exchange mac'adressse table and Cam counteiners in each switch. layer 3 is excusivly routing from a subnet to an other. Layer 3 switch are you the same way as router, implementing Ospf for several site in a same company. Router are use to connect a company network aver internet, and/or operators backbonne, Layer 3 switch are dealing also with layer2 feature, such as Vlan, Stp, pcam sharing, ond so on. regards
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