Ethernet Fabric

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What Does Ethernet Fabric Mean?

An Ethernet fabric network is a type of Ethernet that is aware of all its paths, nodes, requirements and resources. Ethernet fabrics are able to automatically manage themselves to scale up or down depending on demand. They also eradicate the need for the challenging and comparatively less-efficient Spanning Tree Protocol, and the redundancies it creates. When compared with traditional hierarchical Ethernet architecture, Ethernet fabric offers better functionality, utilization, accessibility and ease-of-use. Ethernet fabric systems can be incorporated with pre-existing networks.


Techopedia Explains Ethernet Fabric

The term fabric implies that the network is flat, and has the following characteristics:

  • Does not require layer-three routing services for scaling
  • Does not make use of Spanning Tree Protocol or its types for avoiding loops
  • Includes self-forming inter-switch links (ISL) in between switches
  • Makes use of all accessible ISLs that have the shortest path
  • Can self-heal so that if a link becomes unavailable, the traffic on other ISLs continues

Ethernet fabric networks are also:

  • Flatter: Eradicates the requirement for Spanning Tree Protocol, yet is still interoperable with already available Ethernet networks
  • Flexible: Can be easily integrated in any topology in order to efficiently satisfy the requirements associated with any kind of workload
  • Resilient: Uses several least-cost paths to attain significant functionality and higher stability
  • Elastic: Automatically scales up and down depending on the requirements


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.