What Is a Core Switch and Why Do We Need It?

Network switches are categorized into different types according to different principles, such as fixed switch and modular switch based if you can add expansion module to it, and managed switch, smart switch and unmanaged/dumb switch depending on whether you can configure it and the complexity of the configuration. Another way to classify the type of a network switch is by the role it plays in a local area network (LAN). In this case, one switch is considered to be an access switch, an aggregation/distribution switch or a core switch. In small networks we do not see core switch. So many people are having questions about what core switches are. Do you know what is core switch? Is there only one core switch in a network? What are the differences between core switch and aggregation/access switch?

What Is Core Switch?

If we spend some time looking up dictionaries for the meaning of core switch, we will find a definition similar to “A core switch is a high-capacity switch generally positioned within the backbone or physical core of a network. Core switches serve as the gateway to a wide area network (WAN) or the Internet—they provide the final aggregation point for the network and allow multiple aggregation modules to work together (An excerpt from Techpedia).” The definition explains its high-capacity feature, the physical location and its function of connecting multiple aggregation devices in network.

What Are the Differences Between Core Switch and Other Switches?

The biggest difference between core switch and other switches is that, core switch is required to always be fast, highly available and fault tolerant since it connects all the aggregation switches. Therefore, a core switch should be a fully-managed switch. But if it is a switch not used in the core layer, it can be a smart switch or an unmanaged switch.

Another difference is that, the core switch is not always needed in a LAN while we may often have the aggregation switch and the access switch. Because in small networks that have only a couple of servers and a few clients, there’s no actual demand for a core switch vs aggregation switch. In the scenario where we don’t need the core layer, we often call it a collapsed core or collapsed backbone since the core layer and the aggregation layer are combined.

The third difference is that there’s generally only one (or two for redundancy) core switch used in a small/midsize network, but the aggregation layer and the access layer might have multiple switches. The figure below shows where the core switch locates in a network.

Core switch in the core layer

What Should Be Kept in Mind When Using Core Switch?

The first thing we should keep in mind is that core switch is urgently required in two occasions. One occasion is when the access switches are located in different places and there is a aggregation switch in each place, then we need a core switch to optimize the network. Another occasion is when the number of the access switches connecting to a single aggregation switch exceeds the performance of it, and we need to use multiple aggregation switches in a single location, then the use of core switch can reduce the complexity of the network.

With core switch and without core switch

As for specific type and number of core switch that we should adopt in a network, that depends on the scale and budget of our network, including how many servers, clients or lower layers switches we have. For example, say that a small network has 100 users and has 6 48-port Gigabit aggregation switches, a suitable core switch will be like Juniper EX2200, Cisco SG300, or FS.COM S5800-8TF12S.

The second thing is that a core switch should be fully-managed, which means it should support different method of management, such as web-based management, command line interface and SNMP management. Also it should have some advanced features like support for IPv6, built-in Quality of Service (QoS) controls, Access Control Lists (ACLs) for network security.

And generally the connections to the core layer should be the highest possible bandwidth. In addition, since the core switch act as the center of a LAN, it should be able to reach any devices in the network, not directly but within the routing table. A core switch is usually connected to the WAN router.

Conclusion

In the design of a network, there might be access layer, aggregation layer and core layer. Though the core layer is not required in smaller networks, it is indispensable in medium/large networks. And the high-capacity core switch plays an important role in delivering frames/packets as fast as possible in the center of the network. Its contribution can not be underestimated especially in networks where speed, scalability and reliability are key to users.

Related Article: 48-Port 10GE Switch Selection: What Is the Right Choice?
Related Article: Optics Solutions for FS.COM 100G Switches

Recommendations for Gigabit Switch with 10G Uplink Port

Gigabit network switches connect Ethernet devices in a network while providing great performance capabilities. In many network structures, gigabit Ethernet switches are often used as access switches that connect devices in a local area network. As the pace of network migration is getting fast, the need for gigabit switch with 10G uplink is growing too. And numbers of network administrators desire to apply 1G switch with 10G uplink in their systems.

Understanding Gigabit Switch with 10G Uplink Port and Its Market

Gigabit switches with multiple port configurations enable the network capacity to expand in consumer or corporate environments. For example, an 8-port gigabit switch can provide fast transmission speed for office users, and an 24-port gigabit switch works effectively for small and mid-sized business networks (SMBs). While 802.11ac has changed the way business support the quantity of devices connecting to each other. For network switches in last three years, 10G uplink added significantly to the cost for the switches with less than 48 ports, which isn’t what the customer want.

FS gigabit switch with 10G uplink port

Over the years, gigabit switches in the market usually come with gigabit SFP port. When users want to find one 1G switch with 10G uplink port to speed their networks, they find most gigabit switches with 10G uplink port only exist in 48-port gigabit Ethernet switches. However, not every user needs a 48-port gigabit switch for their applications. But they have to pay for the extra ports which they do not use. Considering this, a multitude of vendors like Dell, FS.COM, MikroTik, Netgear and D-link begin to supply gigabit switch with 10G uplink in the market. Now except for the early 48-port gigabit switch, 8-port, 16-port and 24-port gigabit switches with 10G uplink are available in the gigabit switch market for different size applications.

Recommendations for Popular Gigabit Switches with 10G Uplink Port

48-port gigabit switches are the early type of network switches that provide 10G uplink port. And numbers of users are familiar with this switch. Now there is a multitude of 8-port and 24-port gigabit switches with 10G uplink port appear in the switch market, which satisfy users’ demand as well as boom the market. Here are popular 24-port gigabit switches coming with 10G SFP+ uplink port.

Gigabit Switch Mode 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports Gigabit SFP SFP+ Uplink ports Switching Capacity Forwarding Rate Layer Support Price

FS S3700-24T4S

24

/

4

128Gbps

95.232Mpps

Layer 2+

$289

MikroTik
CRS226-24G-2S+RM

24

/

2

88Gbps

No Info

Layer 3

$299

D-Link DGS-1510-28X

24

/

4

128Gbps

95.24Mpps

Layer 2+

$395

FS S3800-24T4S

24

/

4

128Gbps

95Mpps

Layer 2+

$299

Zyxel XGS4600-32

24

4 combo

4

136Gbps

101.1Mpps

Layer 3

$1477

From the chart we can see, all the gigabit switches listed above provide 24 port 10/100/1000 Ethernet RJ45 ports. Apart from the MikroTik CRS226-24G-2S+RM 24-port gigabit switch that only has 2 SFP+ ports, the leaf gigabit switches come with 4 10G SFP+ ports for uplink to fully exploit the power of 10G servers and storage supporting high bandwidth applications like data backup and replication, and high-volume transaction processing. And they support extensive Layer 2+ or 3 features, enabling them have the same performance as 48-port gigabit switches.

In addition, with the 10G uplink port, most 1G switches can realize stacking or uplink, which make the entire network more efficient. Lots of users have complained that 10G links are expensive, thus getting cheaper, but still not cheap. However, from the chart, the price of four 24-port gigabit switches with 10G uplink port above is less than $400, which is really cost-effective for today’s Ethernet networks.

Summary

Gigabit switches with 10G uplink port can provide high speed data pipes to servers and storage devices. By taking advantage of the SFP+ fiber optic connectivity, those 8-port or 24-port 1G Ethernet switches offer an ideal solution for remote and branch offices.

Related Article: Cheap PoE Switch: 24 Port PoE Switch Price Comparison
Related Article: FS.COM LAN Access 10G Switch Analysis

Cheap PoE Switch: 24 Port PoE Switch Price Comparison

When searching 24 port PoE switch, you can find many vendors supplying various types of 24 port PoE switches. Sometimes you may feel confused about which to choose. This post will introduce some commonly seen 24 port PoE switches including US-24-500W, TL-SG3424P, DGS-1210-28P/ME, GS728TP, S1400-24T4F, S1600-24T4F, and compare these 24 port PoE switch price, feature, performance, then give some advice for 24 port PoE switch buying.

PoE switch

24 Port PoE Switches In the Market

US-24-500W: It is UniFi 24 port PoE switch with advanced port management. Each switch port offers custom settings including port name, PoE, network/VLAN configuration and operation mode as well as 802.1X Authentication and Radius VLAN support.

TL-SG3424P: It is TP-Link 24 port PoE+ switch with high performance, enterprise-level QoS, advanced security strategies and rich layer 2 management features, which is ideal for small and medium business networking.

DGS-1210-28P/ME: It is D-Link 24 port PoE switch featuring a variety of port configurations, and it can be managed with a CLI (Command Line Interface) or user-friendly web-based GUI (Graphical User Interface).

GS728TP: It is Netgear 24 port PoE switch with comprehensive networking features such as VLAN, QoS, IGMP and MLD snooping, static routing, link aggregation, ACL.

FS 24 Port PoE Switch Price vs. Other Vendors’

The table below summarizes the performance of those 24 port PoE switches and compares the 24 port PoE switch price to show which is more cost-efficient.

Model US-24-500W TL-SG3424P DGS-1210-28P/ME GS728TP S1400-24T4F S1600-24T4F
Gigabit RJ45 Ports 24 24 24 24 24 24
SFP Ports 2 4 4 4 4 4
Console Port 1 1 1 / 1 1
Switching Capacity 52 Gbps 48 Gbps 56 Gbps 56 Gbps 52 Gbps 52 Gbps
Forwarding Rate 38.69 Mpps 35.7 Mpps 41.7 Mpps No info 38.69 Mpps 38.69 Mpps
Power Consumption 500W 320W 251.5W 264W 400W 600W
Price US$399.00 $499.99 $623.36 $407.00 US$ 399.00 US$ 419.00

From the perspective of 24 port PoE switch price and performance comparison, we can see that FS S1400-24T4F and S1600-24T4F are the most cost-effective 24 port PoE switches.

FS 24 Port PoE Switch Highlights

S1400-24T4F is FS 24 port PoE switch, while S1600-24T4F is FS 24 port PoE+ switch. The 24 RJ45 ports support Power over Ethernet (PoE) and 10/100/1000 Ethernet connections. And the hot-swappable SFP ports support 1Gbps connections. Both of the two provides security, performance, quality of services, central managed and other network control capabilities. They are suitable for SMB or entry-level enterprise solution which demands industrial, surveillance, IP Phone, IP Camera or Wireless applications.

24 port PoE switch price

FS 24 Port PoE Switch Deployment Scenario

The two 24 port PoE switches can easily mount in a rack, on a wall, or on desktop. Here presents an example of using FS 24 port PoE switches and 8 port PoE switches to connect WAP, IP cameras, IP phones, desktops, etc.

24 port poe switch

As the picture shows, the 8 port PoE switches can be used to connect the powered devices (access point, IP camera and IP phone) via Ethernet copper cables which is very convenient and cost-effective for places like warehouse. And the 24 port PoE switches can be used in offices to connect desktops or laptops. In addition, using the management console interface, an administrator can control various PoE functions, such as remotely rebooting cameras or access points, from anywhere on the network, including over the Internet.

Kind Reminder for PoE Network

Before ordering a PoE switch, consider what your long range goals are for the network in question. Will your organization be adding employees, projects, or new equipment in the next 6-months? Knowing the answer to this question will help you better determine the number of ports you’ll need. In many cases, future-proofing with a better PoE switch (with more ports) may actually be a much better investment than smaller switches that have fewer ports. Please remember to compare the PoE switch price and performance to determine which to buy. Moreover, it is suggested that higher category rated cabling be used because higher category cables such as cat6a typically have larger gauge sizes, and as power currents increase, the larger conductors will perform better than smaller cable.

Conclusion

With PoE switches, you can get fast deployment at the endpoint as it enables power and data transmission over the same cable, thus eliminates the need for additional wiring installations, saving on cost and redundant cabling. This post has compared the 24 port PoE switch price and performance. For PoE switches with 8 port, or 48 port, before buying, you’d better make a network plan first and compare the performance, price of different vendors to choose the most cost-effective one.

Related Article: How to Choose a Suitable 48-Port PoE Switch?

How to Buy Right 48 Port 10GBASE-T Switch?

For recent years, the advent of 10Gbase-t copper solutions has seen growing adoption. Compared to fiber optics, copper has made great advances in latency and power consumption. 10Gbase-t is thus becoming more popular in network switches and servers. If you have not got any 10G switches, you should get 10Gbase-t switches, such as 12 port, 24 port, or 48 port 10gbase-t switches which are cost-effective 10g sfp+ copper switches for data centers. This post mainly talks about 48 port 10gbase-t switch.

Why You Need 48 Port 10gbase-t Switch?

Like other BASE-T technologies, 10gbase-t uses the standard RJ45 Ethernet jack. 10gbase-t is backward compatible, auto-negotiating between higher and lower speeds, thereby not forcing an all-at-once network equipment upgrade. It means that the 10G copper connections can also work with 1 Gigabit Ethernet devices without requiring any expensive hardware replacements. The ability to autonegotiate between 1 and 10 gigabit speeds allows 10gbase-t server upgrades to occur on an evolutionary, as-needed basis. Cat5/Cat5e are supported for 10 Gigabit speeds up to 100 meters.

48 port 10gbase-t switch

48 port 10gbase-t switches help to resolve the congestion issue between network edge and core, which is caused by the broader adoption of Gigabit-to-the-desktop. The utilizing of 48 port 10gbase-t switch provides more design flexibility and it can be used at the center of a small business network or as an aggregation/access switch in a larger organization. 48 port 10gbase-t switch is ideal for expanding network capacity, removing performance bottlenecks and support of premise expansion needs. In simply put, deploying 48 port 10gbase-t switch can be less expensive to install and maintain while meeting the requirements of most short-distance connections within a data center.

What to Consider When Buying 48 Port 10gbase-t Switch?

Once there is a need for 48 port 10gbase-t switch, you shall buy the right switch from multiple vendors on the market? Which should you buy? What to consider when buying 48 port 10gbase-t switch? Here would give some guidelines by providing a comparison among three 10gbase-t switches 48 port from different vendors—Cisco (Cisco SG550XG-48T), NETGEAR (NETGEAR XS748T-100NES) and FS (FS S5850-48T4Q).

Model Cisco SG550XG-48T NETGEAR XS748T-100NES FS S5850-48T4Q
Ports 48×10 Gigabit Ethernet 10GBase-T copper port; 2x 10 Gigabit Ethernet SFP+ (combo with 2 copper ports); 1x Gigabit Ethernet management port 44×10 Gigabit Ethernet 10GBase-T copper port; 4×10 Gigabit Ethernet SFP+ 48x 10 Gigabit Ethernet 10GBase-T copper port; 4×40 Gigabit Ethernet QSFP+; Management and Console Ports (RJ45)
Switching capacity 960 Gbps 960 Gbps 1.28Tbps
Forwarding performance 714.24 Mpps 714.2 Mpps 952.32Mpps
Packet Buffer 4 MB 3MB 9MB

From the table, we can see that they have different features and capabilities. In comparison, FS 10gbase-t switch 48 port has the best switching performance. This 48 port 10gbase-t switch is built with 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, giving you the speed you need to share information quickly. Moreover, it supports low-latency, line-rate 10g copper base-t technology with backward compatibility to Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet. The 48 port 10gbase-t switch is also able to cost-effectively migrate current network to 10G capacity by utilizing the existing cat6 RJ45 short connections up to 30 meters and cat6a/cat7 connections up to 100 meters. In short, the 10gbase-t switch 48 port can deliver substantial productivity gains today and help future-proof your network for the demanding applications of tomorrow. Furthermore, it’s simple to manage and can get the fast data speeds, nonstop availability, and advanced security you need in LAN. Generally speaking, when buying such high-performance 48 port 10gbase-t switch, you should pay attention to the following aspects.

48 port 10gbase-t switch

Port Density & Speed

When buying a 48 port 10gbase-t switch, you should also pay attention to other speed of ports besides the 48x 10 Gigabit Ethernet 10gbase-t copper port. Typically, the 48 port 10gbase-t switches also come with 10 Gigabit Ethernet SFP+ ports or 40 Gigabit Ethernet QSFP+ ports. With different vendors, the port numbers vary. There are 48x10gbase-t + 4x40g qsfp+, and 48x10gbase-t + 6x40g qsfp+ in the market, or network switches with 48x10gbase-t + 2x10g sfp+ are also available. Normally, with too few ports and not enough capacity will prove ineffective and one that is too large can be a waste of money. It is prudent to have an extra port or two available for future demand. The 48 port 10gbase-t switch with four qsfp+ ports can meet next generation Metro, Data Center and Enterprise network requirements.

Power and Latency

Advancements have allowed switch vendors to significantly lower power consumption on 10gbase-t switch ports. While early versions of 10gbase-t switches required up to 12 Watts per port, switch vendors now offer a range of 1.5 to 4 W per port depending on distance. FS 48 port 10gbase-t switch has rather low power consumption and low latency and remains relatively flat across all packet sizes.

Cost per Port

As power consumption has dropped, 10gbase-t switch prices have also dropped with per-port prices at less than $350. Take FS 48 port 10gbase-t switch as an example, its price is $4599 with 48x10gbase-t ports and 4×40 gigabit qsfp+ ports. So the cost per port would definitely be less than $350.

Conclusion

The 48 port 10gbase-t switch presents the right solution for extending beyond simple reliability to higher speed and performance while delivering unprecedented non-blocking 10 gigabit bandwidth at an affordable cost. When buying the 10gbase-t switch 48 port, make a network plan first and take into consideration what has mentioned above. If you are not aware of which 48 port 10gbase-t switch to buy, FS would be a good place to consult, who can help to make network planning by your requirements and recommend the suitable network switches.

What’s the Difference: 10GBASE-SR vs 1000BASE-SX

As the development of fiber optic network, there appears lots of industry standards for fiber optic transceivers. Although transceivers with different standards may have different features and performance, they sometimes can be used in the same switch port. Thus, many people may get confused by these transceivers. For example, 10GBASE-SR and 1000BASE-SX transceivers can both be inserted into the Cisco Catalyst 2960S-48TD-L switch, but the 10GBASE-SR transceiver may not work fine with the 1000BASE-SX module in another switch. Why? This post will discuss 10GBASE-SR vs 1000BASE-SX and whether 10GBASE-SR transceiver can down-support connect to 1000BASE-SX transceiver.

connect 10GBASE-SR to 1000BASE-SX

10GBASE-SR vs 1000BASE-SX

As mentioned above, 10GBASE-SR and 1000BASE-SX are two kinds of industry standards for fiber optic transceivers. This part will introduce them in turns.

10GBASE-SR

10GBASE-SR is defined in the IEEE 802.3 Clause 49 standard, specially designed for multi-mode fiber optic medium that uses 850 nm lasers. It has a data transmission rate of up to 10.3125 Gbps and can be used over multiple cabling options. But the transmission distance may differ as the fiber cable changes. For example, when used over OM1 cabling, the 10GBASE-SR has a maximum working distance of 33 meters, as opposed to 82 meters when applied over OM2 cabling. Nowadays, the 10GBASE-SR module usually applied over OM3 and OM4 cablings to give a more structured optical cabling used in large buildings. And the transmission distance respectively are 300m and 400m.

1000BASE-SX

Like 10GBASE-SR, 1000BASE-SX is also an IEEE 802.3z standard for the multi-mode fiber optic cabling. But it has a minimum transmission distance of 220m and a maximum of 550m. Offering 1Gbps data transmission rate, 1000BASE-SX modules are mainly used to connect high-speed hubs, Ethernet switches, and routers together in different wiring closets or buildings using long cabling runs.

Can 10GBASE-SR Transceiver Down-Support Connect to 1000BASE-SX Transceiver?

10GBASE-SR modules are generally referring to 10GBASE-SR SFP+ transceivers, and 1000BASE-SX modules are usually 1000BASE-SX SFP transceivers. And since SFP+ and SFP transceivers share the same size (as shown below), SFP transceivers can often used in most SFP+ ports (For example, almost all SFP+ ports of Cisco switch can accept SFP transceivers). Then can a 10GBASE-SR SFP+ transceiver down-support connect to the 1000BASE-SX SFP transceiver?

10GBASE-SR vs 1000BASE-SX

10GBASE-SR vs 1000BASE-SX Transceivers

The answer is no. Unlike copper SFP transceivers, 10GBASE-SR SFP+ transceivers do not have such functions as auto-negotiation. In fact, both 10GBASE-SR SFP+ and 1000BASE-SX SFP transceivers can only run at the rated speed fixed by the electro-optical conversion ASIC built into the transceiver hardware. That’s to say, 10GBASE-SR SFP+ transceivers can only run at 10Gbps and 1000BASE-SX SFP transceivers run at 1Gbps. So there is no such fiber link that one end does 1G while the other end does 10G.

10GBASE-SR vs 1000BASE-SX: Have You Known the Differences?

To conclude, although 10GBASE-SR and 1000BASE-SX share something in common, they are totally different Ethernet standards for transceivers. 10GBASE-SR SFP+ transceivers mainly work in 10G links, while 1000BASE-SX transceivers can only run at 1Gbps even though in the SFP+ slot. Thus, it will not work out to connect a 10GBASE-SR SFP+ transceiver with a 1000BASE-SX SFP transceiver.

Related Article: What Is SFP Connector, SFP+ Connector and SFP28 Connector?
Related Article: Choose 10GBASE-T Copper Over SFP+ for 10G Ethernet