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A network switch – also known as a switching hub, bridging hub or officially a MAC bridge – is a computer networking device which connects devices on a computer network, and uses packet switching to receive, process and forward data to the destination device.


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A network switch is a multi-port network bridge that uses hardware addresses to process and forward data at the data link layer – also known as layer 2 – of the OSI model. Some switches can also process data at the network layer (layer 3) by incorporating routing functionality that most commonly uses IP addresses to perform packet forwarding. These are known as layer-3 or multilayer switches.

Some roles in the IT industry will require an understanding of the role played by network switches, such as Network Engineering jobs.