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A keyboard, video, mouse (KVM) switch is a hardware device that connects a keyboard, video display and mouse to multiple computers. It allows a user to control more than one computer using only one input/output (I/O) device.
The KVM switch is typically used to support terminals at both ends of the connection, allowing remote and local access to all computers. A KVM can also be used to regulate numerous groups of servers in a data center. There are several benefits to a KVM that may include the following:
In addition, a KVM switch can connect a single PC to multiple keyboards, video displays and mice. This can be helpful when a user needs to access a PC from two or more locations.
Newer KVM switches can be comprised of other switching functions that share audio as in speakers or USB devices between various PCs.
The connection of a KVM depends on the port density and type of connector. There are a variety of ways that a KVM switch can be connected:
To change from one computer to another, a switch is used on the KVM unit. The KVM device transmits a signal between the PC and the intended module such as the keyboard, monitor or mouse. Some high-tech switches also permit a user to change PCs by using hotkeys or keyboard shortcuts.
One of the most common and cost-effective KVM switches allows access to two PCs. However, a local remote KVM architecture can support over 256 access points with communication to more than 8,000 PCs using a closed-loop, high-bandwidth bus. In addition, IP KVM support is used for local remote KVM systems that need to be managed off-site.
Oftentimes, the KVM is used in databases that have multiple servers on a rack using just one keyboard, mouse and monitor. It is also used in home environments using a PC with a keyboard, monitor and mouse that extends to a laptop, PDA or additional PC that has a different operating system.