What is difference between layer 2 Switch and Layer 3 Switch ?

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  • Mar 15th, 2006

layer 2 is for peer to peer communication,

layer 3 is for process to process commmunication

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  • Mar 20th, 2006


There is only one big diffrence between layer 2 and layer 3 swithces is that we are able to do routing in interanetwork with Layer 3 swithces which is not possible to do with layer 2. Cisco 2950 catalyst swithe is the example of that.


Hcl Comnet

ishank thandi

  • Mar 22nd, 2006

sir, what i know, layer 2 switch is a peer to peer communication. layer 3 switch is a process to process communication.

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  • Mar 23rd, 2006

sir, you are right. it is for peer to peer connection. i don't know about to 2950 cisco router. canyou explain further of what is cisco 2950 do? that could be a great help for our company.

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T. Srinivas

  • Mar 26th, 2006

Layer 2 switch can only do switching where as Layer 3 can do switching as well as routing

Ex: of layer 2 switches 1912, 2950,

          layer 3 switches 4503, 5500,

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T. Srinnivas

  • Mar 26th, 2006


I didn't understand, what do u mean by peer to peer and process to process.

 As per me is concerned, layer 2 switch can only do switching where as layer 3 switch can do switching as well as routing.............

Ex: layer 2 switch: 2950, 1900

      layer 3 switch: 4503, 5500


  • Mar 29th, 2006

in layer 2 switching routing is not possibel but layer 3 switch routing is possible means it does both the great advantage of layer 3 switch is that vlan option is availble in layer 3.and l3 switch is very costly when compared to layer 3


  • Apr 25th, 2006

 layer 2 is do the routing function with the mac address(ie peer to peer delivery) but laywr 3 is do the routin function with the ip address(process to process delivery) 



mitul patel

  • Jun 10th, 2006


 on layer 2 in the header portion(H2) contains source and destination physical addresses...(means all the computers which are in the same network can communicate.......)

while on layer 3 in the header portion(H3) contains  logical ip of the source and in the destination portion it contains logical ip of gateway of that(of source) network. and then in the second pass in H3 it contains in the source portion address of the gateway and in the destination portion address of the real destination.( packet can be trasferred though source and the destination are of the different networks)

source subnet255.255.255.0 (here n/w id =

destination   subnet (here n/w id =

so with layer 3 switch

pass1----source( to gateway(

pass2----gateway( to destination(

where gateway contains both ip addresses of both the networks.

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switch comes in layer two ie data link layer

and router comes in layer 3 ie network layer

usually nodes communicate with each using switch, now say there is a V-LAN configured in the switch,  say there are four (ABCD) nodes connected to the switch.  now say A, B are in one V-LAN and C, D in one V-LAN now if A want to communicate with D using switch it is not possible, here we need router. Now if A sends a packet to D, the packet goes to switch and then to router and comes back to the switch and goes to D

Here  the layer 3 switch comes into picture

layer 3 switch acts like a router i.e router in a switch now if A sends packet to D it is routed internally

here we dont need a router to connect to the internet too 

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i missed out somthing here

routers are still needed, especially where connections to the wide area are required. Layer 3 switches may still connect to such routers to learn their tables and route packets to them when these packets need to be sent over the WAN. The switches will be very effective on the workgroup and the backbone within an enterprise, but most likely will not replace the router at the edge of the WAN (read Internet in many cases). Routers perform numerous other functions like filtering with access lists, inter-Autonomous System (AS) routing with protocols such as the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), and so on. Some Layer 3 switches may completely replace the need for a router if they can provide all these functions

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Amit Ghosh

  • Jan 10th, 2007

L2 - No Routing, no vlans property

L3 - Routing and vlans

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Amit Joshi

  • Mar 29th, 2007

Dear friends,U all r right.......

Peer is identified by MAC address
Process is identified by Socket ( ie IP address+Port Number)

So, Layer 2 switch works on Layer 2 & it uses MAC address for operation,so we called it peer-to-peer
whereas Layer 3 switch works on Layer 3 & it uses Socket (IP address & Port Number) for operations,Thats Y we call it Process-to-Process

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  • Apr 19th, 2007

Hi, well I dont understand this line peer to peer and process to process communication. Well all what i know is that layer 2 switch can only do switching in simple networks as well as layer 3 switch can do routing as well as switching. If I talk about my experiences, I tried to install a firewall on layer 3 switch it didnt work but it worked on layer 2 switch. The two destinations were apart by RF link.

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chintan purohit bangalore

  • May 18th, 2007

Layer 2 switch has multi collision and single broadcast domain

Layer 3 switch has multi collision and multi broadcast domain (also perform routing)

Hemant Gambhir

  • Jun 21st, 2007

A layer 2 device is a switch (communicates at frame level), a layer 3 is a router (communicates at packet level).

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  • Jun 26th, 2007

There is no such thing as a layer 3 switch. Its really just a router with switching ports.

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  • Jul 25th, 2007

Layer 3 switch are called smart switch and we can do VLANning in it..(i.e.  virtual lans).
Layer 2 switch are simple switches.

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  • Aug 10th, 2007

Layer 2 switch forwards packets using mac address/Layer 2 address and Layer 3 switch forwards the packets using layer 3 address which is IP address.

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shailendra kumar

  • Sep 25th, 2007

Layer 2 switch is managable whereas layer3 switch is non managable.

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  • Feb 28th, 2008

if layer 3 switch acts both like switch and router...then why should we use router?????can we use layer 3 switch instid of router?????

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  • Oct 12th, 2008

L3 switch is used for interVLAN routing, which is not supported in L2 switch.
L3 switch is very usefull because we dont need to use a router for communication between VLANs but we can never compare L3 switch and router.

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The difference between Layer 2 and Layer 3 switching is the type of information inside the frame that is used to determine the correct output interface. With Layer 2 switching, frames are switched based on MAC address information. With Layer 3 switching, frames are switched based on network-layer information

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  • Dec 22nd, 2011

Layer 2 switch is unmanagable where as L3 switch is managable. We can assign IP address to L3 switches by using VLAN interface to login in switch remotely but it can not be done in L2 Switch.

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  • Jan 20th, 2012

Layer-3 Switch is Manageble Switch i.e., We will provide an IP address to it, so that can be managed remotely.

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  • Feb 3rd, 2012

Layer 2 switch in unmanageable. It is just used to connect the network segments. It has only one broadcast domain for each port and collision domain as many ports are there. while layer 3 switch is managable switch. Actually a router is known as layer 3 switch. now its clear why we can assign ip to an layer 3 swich. these ips are virtually. Layer 3 switch is used to make communication between different VLANs on a layer 2 switch.. :)

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A layer two switch can only switch traffic, while a layer 3 switch can route traffic via physical interfaces and VLAN interfaces. Layer three switches can also run routing protocols such as oaf and bgp.

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  • Jul 10th, 2012

L2 is for Switching and L3 for Routing. Here L2 switch can handle only upto Mac Level communication but L3 Switch extends its ability to handle IP.

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  • Sep 10th, 2012

L2 switch is a peer to peer switch and L3 switch is a process to process switch .. peer to peer switch means that MAC address. and process to process switch means that IPaddress

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  • Dec 3rd, 2012

Layer 2 talks with MAC address
Layer 3 talks with Ip address thats main difference.

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  • Dec 6th, 2012

layer 2 means communicaton within a network
layer 3 means communication between 2 or more networks

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Anshuman Goswami

  • Dec 7th, 2012

Layer 2 works with MAC [SWITCH] and Layer 3 works with IP and Routing Protocols [Router]

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  • Dec 21st, 2012

Data Link Layer is called as Layer 2 where as Network Layer is called as Layer 3
In DDL or layer 2, Switch, Hubs are working but in NNL or Layer 3, Router is working.
In DDL, Switch creates MAC table, which is the physical address of the computer where as NNL , Router creats the IP table.

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  • Dec 25th, 2012

Simple logic guys!!! Layer 2 switch can only transmit data under a Vlan which they are reside. but Layer 3 is having those mechanism to communicate to the other vlan.

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  • Mar 14th, 2013

Layer Two switch means, it communicates between Layer1 and Layer2,
Layer Three means, Router, it communicates between Layer 1, Layer2, Layer3, Manageble Switch

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  • May 1st, 2013

L2 switch is not manageable but l3 switch is manageable

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  • Feb 2nd, 2014

L2 Works based on Data link layer and L3 switch works based on Network Layer

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  • Feb 10th, 2014

layer 2 switch works on data link layer, and
layer 3 switch works on both data link and network layer

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Amit Tyagi

  • Jun 26th, 2014

L2 switch having only MAC table with IP Address mapping and L3 switch having only IP Table

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Madhu reddy

  • Jul 14th, 2014

L3 switch only can do routing at LAN area when we need routing at WAN area we need Router .

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  • Jul 19th, 2014

Layer 2 Switch means it is able to worked both the layer 1 and layer 2

Layer 3 Switch means it is able to worked with both layer 1 and layer 2 as well as layer 3 also

layer 3 switch means like Router,which will be route the traffic.

layer 2 switch means like switch.

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Vishal Rawat

  • Mar 23rd, 2015

A L2 switch does switching only. This means that it uses MAC addresses to switch the packets from a port to the destination port (and only the destination port). It therefore maintains a MAC address table so that it can remember which ports have which MAC address associated.

A L3 switch also does switching exactly like a L2 switch. The L3 means that it has an identity from the L3 layer. Practically this means that a L3 switch is capable of having IP addresses and doing routing. For intra-VLAN communication, it uses the MAC address table. For extra-VLAN communication, it uses the IP routing table.

This is simple but you could say "Hey but my Cisco 2960 is a L2 switch and it has a VLAN interface with an IP !". You are perfectly right but that VLAN interface cannot be used for IP routing since the switch does not maintain an IP routing table.

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  • Jun 3rd, 2015

All of you gives good answer. Can anyone tell me why we use router when Routing is possible in L3 Switch?

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  • Sep 2nd, 2015

Yes Routing is possible in L3 switch but as these switches are so expensive hence cannot be used everywhere. Mainly L3 switches are used for inter VLAN routing and for any point to point connectivity we require routers.

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  • Sep 11th, 2015

Routing is not the only thing that Router does... Access List, Exchanging Routing Tables, Natting, Patting and so many other things so that is why we need to use Routers to route traffic from one network to another. Switches are good only within the network.

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  • Sep 30th, 2015

L2 no routing and no vLAN, L3 Routing and vLAN

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  • Oct 31st, 2015

L2 Switches do not have the Capability to route the traffic within the Networks, Whereas L3 Switches does.

L2 Switches are dependent on the MAC address whereas L3 doesn't and perform the Routing task.

Communication between various vLANs cannot be performed using the L2 switches, where Communication can be done throughout the network and vLANs using the L3 Switches.

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  • Jan 24th, 2016

Layer 2 switches operation would be the only between layer 1 and layer 2.
Layer 3 switches operate between layer 1,layer 2 and layer 3 only, router will be the best example.

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binod Kumar

  • Feb 4th, 2016

L2 Switch is for Peer to peer Communication and L3 is for Process to process Communication
L3 switch is that we are able to do routing in intra-network with L3 Switch, which is not possible to do with L2 Switch.
L2 Ex.- 1912 2950 L3 ex.- 4503, 5500

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sukhchain singh

  • Apr 28th, 2016

Layer 2 switch are unmanageable switches. We cant configure them. They works only on mac address and these types of switches are plug and play. We cant give IP address to layer 2 switches.
Layer 3 switches know both IP and MAC addresses. These are also called manageable(configurable) switches. We can configure them according to our requirement.

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  • Sep 29th, 2016

L2 switch operation is purely based on MAC addresses, L3 is based on IP forwarding.
L2 avoids collision domain and L3 avoids broadcasting.
L3 switch is also a type switch which supports L3 some functionality like forwarding, firewall and some L3 protocols.

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  • Oct 20th, 2016

Layer 2 switch is worked under data link layer, while communication used mac Address.

Layer 3 switch just like router, which is able to communicate between different network, it works under network layer.

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saleem ansari

  • Mar 2nd, 2017

L2 is Non Manageable
L3 is Manageable Switch
It is big difference

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  • Apr 8th, 2017

L2 switch is worked under data link layer, while communication used mac Address.
L3 switch just like router, which is able to communicate between different network, it works under network layer while communication used IP Address.

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rahul verma

  • Dec 11th, 2017

Layer 2 Switch works in Data Link Layer
Layer 3 Switch works in Network Layer

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Niteen Patel

  • Dec 6th, 2018

In layer 3 switch your can modify the port to l2 & l3 port as per communication requirement.

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