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Difference between layer-2 and layer-3 switches

  • Difficulty Level : Basic
  • Last Updated : 07 Jul, 2021

Prerequisite – Network Devices 
A switch is a device which sends a data packet in a local network. What is advantage over hub? A hub floods the network with the packet and only destination system receives that packet while others just drop due to which the traffic increases a lot. To solve this problem switch came into the picture. A switch first learns, by flooding network just like hub to fill MAC- address table, on which port a particular device is connected. After learning it sends packets to that particular host only. 




Layer 2 switch work on layer 2 of OSI model i.e. data link layer and sends a “Frames” to destination port using MAC address table which stores the mac address of a device associated with that port. Layer 3 switch work on layer 3 of OSI model i.e. network layer where it route packet by using IP address, it is used widely on VLANs. 


Layer 2 SwitchLayer 3 Swicth
Operate on layer 2 (Data link) of OSI model.Operate on layer 3 (Network Layer) of OSI model.
Send “frames” to destination on the basis of MAC address.Route Packet with help of IP address
Work with MAC address onlyCan perform functioning of both 2 layer and 3 layer switch
Used to reduce traffic on local network.Mostly Used to implement VLAN (Virtual Local area network)
Quite fast as they do not look at the Layer 3 portion of the data packets.Takes time to examine data packets before sending them to their destination
It has single broadcast domainIt has multiple broadcast domain.
Can communicate within a network only.Can communicate within or outside network.


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