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Types of Fiber Optic Switches
Jan 09 , 2023 1253

What is a fiber optic switch? And what are the types of fiber optic switches? A fiber optic switch is a high-speed network transmission relay device. Compared with ordinary switches, they use fiber optic cables as the transmission medium. The advantages of optical fiber transmission are fast speed and strong anti-interference ability.


Fiber optic switches are mainly divided into the following categories: 


1.Entry-level switch

The entry-level switches are mainly applied in small workgroups with 8 to 16 ports, and they can meet the needs of lower price and less expansion and management. They are often used to replace hubs, providing higher bandwidth and more reliable connections. People generally don't buy entry-level switches alone, but often buy them together with other levels of switches to form a complete storage solution. Entry-level switches offer a limited level of port-level connectivity. If users use such low-end devices alone, they may encounter some manageable issues.

2.Workgroup-level optical fiber switch

The optical fiber switch owns the ability to cascade many switches into a large-scale fabric. By connecting one or more ports of two switches, all ports connected to these switches can see a unique image of the network. In the same time, any node on this fabric can communicate with other nodes.

Essentially, a large, virtual and distributed switch can be built through cascading switches and can span very large distances. A fabric built up of multiple switches looks like a fabric made up of individual switches, and ports on all switches can view and access all other ports on the fabric as if they were accessing a local switch. An important factor in creating a distributed fabric is access to the bandwidth of the connections between switches. The effective rate between any two ports is affected by the effective bandwidth of the connection between switches, and it may be necessary to use multiple connections between switches to maintain the necessary bandwidth. Workgroup-level optic fiber switches are numerous and more versatile.

Users can use workgroup switches in a variety of fields, but the most common area of application is in small SANs. This type of switch can be connected together to provide a greater number of ports through the interconnection lines between the switches. Inter-switch interconnects can be created on any port on a fiber channel switch. However, if you plan to use products from multiple vendors, you need to make sure that the devices are interoperable.

3.Core-level fiber optic switch

A core-level switch (also known as a director) is generally located in the center of a large SAN, connecting several edge switches to form a SAN network with hundreds of ports. Firewall is a barrier between the internal network and the external network, and it controls the ingress and egress of data packets according to the rules defined in advance by the system administrator. The firewall is the first line of defense of the system, and its function is to prevent illegal users from entering.

Switch is a network device used for forwarding electrical (optical) signal, providing an exclusive electrical signal path for any two network nodes connected to the switch. The most common switches are Ethernet switches, and other common ones are VoIP Phone switches, fiber optic switches, etc. A core switch can also be used as a stand-alone switch or as an edge switch, but its enhanced functionality and internal structure make it work better in a core storage environment. Other functions of the core switch include supporting for protocols other than fiber, like InfiniBand, support for 2Gb PHOTOSHOP fiber channel, advanced fiber services, such as security, trunk and frame filtering, etc..

Core-level fiber optic switches usually provide many ports, from 64 ports to 128 ports to more. It uses very wide internal connections and route data frames with maximum bandwidth. The purpose of using these switches is to build a network with larger coverage and provide greater bandwidth. They are designed to delay route frame signals within the shortest time so that they can be transported at the fastest speed between multiple ports.

In addition, core fiber switches often use hot-swap circuit boards based on blade. As long as the switch board is inserted into the cabinet, it can provide new functions, online maintenance and online on-demand expansion in different phrases. Many core-level switches do not support arbitrated loops or other direct-connect loop devices, they only cares about the core switching capabilities. 

Since availability is the most important in the whole environment, people are willing to spend more money on redundancy. All assembly units of high-redundancy switches are redundant, which completely eliminates single point of failure and guarantees the long operating time. These expenses are generally spent on high-availability backplanes, power supplies, electric circuit, and software to maintain availability. This type of switch has many built-in logic circuits to deal with hardware failures inside the switch.

In addition to redundancy, the core-level fiber optic switch supports non-stop service software upgrades, which eliminates the need for system maintenance during upgrading. Router is the hub of the Internet, namely the "traffic police". Nowadays, routers have been widely used in all walks of life, and various routers of different grades have become the main force to realize the internal connection of various backbone networks, the interconnection between backbone networks, and the interconnection between backbone networks and the Internet. Alternate path is a level of redundancy on the network, which can configure a resilient dual Fabric. This network completely eliminates single point of failure, and can avoid serious consequences brought by software or hardware errors, fires, natural disasters or operational errors for the network. 

Core-level switches provide the highest reliability and port density (unit: g/cm3 or kg/m3). In a data center with a large amount of fiber channel infrastructure, this type of product is an almost invulnerable and centralized storage switch. Therefore, for most high-availability networks, a dual-channel network constructed by core fiber optic switches will be the best choice. Fiber optic switches are commonly used in enterprise communications and data centers. 

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