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What is the difference between a fiber switch and other switches?

Switches are classified into: entry-level switches, workgroup-level switches, and core-level fiber switches. So, let's start with the core fabric switches!

Core-level fabric switches (also known as directors) are usually located at the center of a large SAN, and these switches are interconnected to form a SAN network with hundreds of ports. Core-layer fabric switches can also use standalone switches or edge switches, but their enhanced functionality and internal structure make them work better in core storage environments. Additional features of core-grade fabric switches include support for protocols other than fabric (such as InfiniBand), support for 2Gbps Fibre Channel and advanced fabric services such as security, trunking, and frame filtering.

Core-grade fiber switches usually offer many ports, from 64 to 128 ports, or even more. It uses very wide internal connections to route data frames with maximum bandwidth. The purpose of using these switches is to build a network with greater coverage and greater bandwidth. They are designed to route framed signals between multiple ports with fast speed and low latency.

Fiber optic switches can cascade multiple switches into a large fabric. By connecting one or more ports of two switches, all ports connected to the switches can see a picture of the network, and any node on the fabric can communicate with other nodes.

By cascading switches, it is essentially possible to build large, virtual and distributed switches, and the distances that can be spanned by cascading switches are very large. The fabric of many switches looks like a fabric composed of individual switches. As with all local switches, you can view and access ports on all switches.

Entry-level optical switches are mainly aimed at applications in small workgroups with 8 to 16 ports, and are suitable for applications that rarely require expansion and management, and are inexpensive. Often used in place of a hub, it can provide higher bandwidth and more reliable connections than a hub. Entry-level switches are generally not purchased individually, but are often purchased together with other switches to form a complete storage solution. Entry-level switches offer only a limited level of port cascading. If users only use such low-end devices, they may encounter some manageability issues.