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IP Routing Fundamentals by Mark A. Sportack

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Multilayer Switches

Another interesting development that potentially affects routing is the multilayer switch. Multilayer switches operate much like LAN switches (such as Ethernet switches), except that they are designed to forward datagrams based on their IP addresses rather than MAC addresses. This capability, at least superficially, appears to position a multilayer switch as a potential replacement for stand- alone routers in a LAN. Closer examination, however, reveals that this technology cannot completely supplant traditional standalone routing in a LAN because there are several fundamental limitations of multilayer switching. The best way to understand these limitations is to examine how a multilayer switch operates and its uses.

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