Layer 2 Switch

What Does Layer 2 Switch Mean?

A layer 2 switch is a type of network switch or device that works on the data link layer (OSI Layer 2) and utilizes MAC Address to determine the path through where the frames are to be forwarded. It uses hardware based switching techniques to connect and transmit data in a local area network (LAN).


A layer 2 switch can also be referred to as a multiport bridge.

Techopedia Explains Layer 2 Switch

A layer 2 switch is primarily responsible for transporting data on a physical layer and in performing error checking on each transmitted and received frame. A layer 2 switch requires MAC address of NIC on each network node to transmit data. They learn MAC addresses automatically by copying MAC address of each frame received, or listening to devices on the network and maintaining their MAC address in a forwarding table. This also enables a layer 2 switch to send frames quickly to destination nodes. However, like other layer switches (3,4 onwards), a layer 2 switch cannot transmit packet on IP addresses and don’t have any mechanism to prioritize packets based on sending/receiving application.


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Margaret Rouse 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 explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…