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67
Chapter 7
Switch Configuration

Switches are Layer 2 devices that are used to ease bandwidth shortages and network
bottlenecks. A switch can segment a LAN into microsegments, which are single-host
segments. This creates collision-free domains from one larger domain. Although the LAN
switch eliminates collision domains, all hosts connected to the switch are still part of the
same broadcast domain. Therefore, all nodes connected through a LAN switch can see a
broadcast from just one node.

Concept Questions
Demonstrate your knowledge of these concepts by answering the following questions in
the space provided.
1.
Describe the role that microsegmentation plays in a switched network
infrastructure.

There are two primary reasons for segmenting a LAN. The first is to isolate traffic between
segments, and the second is to achieve more bandwidth per user by creating smaller collision
domains.
Without LAN segmentation, LANs larger than a small workgroup would quickly become clogged
with traffic and collisions, and would deliver virtually no bandwidth.

LAN segmentation can be implemented through the utilization of bridges, switches and routers.
Each device has particular pros and cons.

The addition of such devices segments the LAN into smaller collision domains. By dividing large networks into self-contained units, bridges and switches provide several advantages. Bridges and switches diminish the traffic experienced by devices on all connected segments, because only a certain percentage of traffic is forwarded. Bridges and switches increase the number of collision domains while reducing the size of each collision domain.

A switch employs microsegmentation to reduce the collision domain on a LAN. It does this by
creating dedicated network segments, or point-to-point connections, and connecting these segments
in a virtual network within the switch.

2.
Describe how a switch learns addresses.

An Ethernet switch can learn the address of each device on the network by reading the source
address of each data frame transmitted and noting the port where the frame entered the switch. The
switch then adds this information to its forwarding database or switching table. Addresses are
learned dynamically. This means that as new addresses are read, they are learned and stored in
content-addressable memory (CAM). When a source is read that is not found in the CAM, it is
learned and stored for future use.

Each time an address is stored, it is time stamped. This allows for addresses to be stored for a set
period of time. Each time an address is referenced or found in the CAM, it receives a new time
stamp. Addresses that are not referenced during a set period of time are removed from the list. By

68
removing aged or old addresses, the CAM maintains an accurate and functional forwarding
database.
3.
Describe the various switch forwarding methods.
Two switching modes can be used to forward a frame through a switch, cut-through and store-and-
forward

When a switch performs store-and-forward switching, the entire frame is received before any
forwarding takes place. The destination and/or the source addresses are read and filters are applied
before the frame is forwarded.

When a switch that performs cut-through switching only reads the destination address before
receiving the entire frame. The frame is then forwarded before the entire frame arrives. This mode
decreases the latency of the transmission, but has poor error detection.

Fast-forward switching offers the lowest level of latency by immediately forwarding a packet after
receiving the destination address. Because fast-forward switching starts forwarding before the
entire packet is received, there may be times when packets are relayed with errors.

Fragment-free switching filters out collision fragments, which are the majority of packet errors, before forwarding begins. In a properly functioning network, collision fragments must be smaller than 64 bytes.

Symmetric switching is one way to characterize a LAN switch according to the bandwidth
allocated to each port on the switch. A symmetric switch provides switched connections between
ports with the same bandwidth, such as all 10-Mbps ports or all 100-Mbps ports.

Asymmetric switching makes the most of client/server network traffic flows where multiple clients
are communicating with a server at the same time, requiring more bandwidth dedicated to the
switch port that the server is connected to in order to prevent a bottleneck at that port.

An Ethernet switch may use a buffering technique to store and forward packets to the correct port or ports. Buffering may also be used when the destination port is busy. The area of memory where the switch stores the data is called the memory buffer. This memory buffer can use two methods for forwarding packets\u2014port-based memory buffering and shared memory buffering

4. Define and describe how a switch handles broadcast domains, and describe how the
use of routers reduces network traffic by reducing the size of a broadcast domain.
When one transmitter needs to reach all of the receivers in the network, it sends a broadcast.
Broadcast frames are received by every host on the segment.

The broadcast domain at Layer 2 is referred to as the MAC broadcast domain. The MAC
broadcast domain consists of all devices on the LAN that receive broadcast frames from a host to
all other machines on the LAN.

69

A switch is a Layer 2 device. When a switch receives a broadcast, it forwards it to each port on
the switch except the incoming port. Each attached device must process the broadcast frame.
When two switches are connected, the size of the broadcast domain is increased.

The overall result is a reduction in available bandwidth as all devices in the broadcast domain must
receive and process the broadcast frame.
Routers are Layer 3 devices. Routers do not propagate broadcasts and are therefore used to
segment both collision and broadcast domains.
Vocabulary Exercise
Define the following terms as completely as you can. Use the online curriculum or Chapter
7 of the Cisco Networking Academy Program CCNA 3 and 4 Companion Guide for help.
Asymmetric switching - A switching method that provides switched connections between ports
with the different bandwidth, such as between 10-Mbps ports and 100-Mbps ports.
broadcast domain - The set of all devices that will receive broadcast frames originating from any
device within the set. Broadcast domains are typically bounded by routers because routers do not
forward broadcast frames.
collision domain - In Ethernet, the network area within which frames that have collided are
propagated. Repeaters and hubs propagate collisions; LAN switches, bridges and routers do not.
content-addressable memory (CAM) - Memory that is accessed based on its contents, not on its
memory address.
cut-through switching - Packet switching approach that streams data through a switch so that the

leading edge of a packet exits the switch at the output port before the packet finishes entering the input port. A device using cut-through packet switching reads, processes, and forwards packets as soon as the destination address is looked up, and the outgoing port determined. Also known aso n-

the-fly packet switching.
fast-forward switching \u2013 Switching method where the switching actually starts before the entire
packet is received by the switch.
fragment-free switching \u2013 Switching method where the switch filters out the collision fragments,
which are the majority of packet errors, before forwarding begins.
memory buffering \u2013 Buffering technique where packets are stored in memory before forwarding.
microsegment - Division of a network into smaller segments, usually with the intention of
increasing aggregate bandwidth to network devices.
store-and-forward switching - Packet-switching technique in which frames are completely

processed before being forwarded out the appropriate port. This processing includes calculating the
CRC and checking the destination address. In addition, frames must be temporarily stored until
network resources (such as an unused link) are available to forward the message.

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