Hub and Switch are the two basic hardware components for any network. For communication across more than two devices an interconnecting network device is necessary. If there are only two nodes communicating then a direct connection is possible. Otherwise there is a requirement of Multi Station Access Unit (MSAU) to amplify the signal.
A Hub consists of maximum 8 to 16 ports. Hub works in physical layer. It is almost an obsolete device in the modern day of computing. A Hub is non manageable. It means it cannot be configured for any advanced network configuration. Ethernet Hub has RJ 45 ports whereas UTP cables are connected generally in 10Base2/10Base5 Ethernet networks. Hub is simply like a Repeater and performs by regenerating signals. Bandwidth is not dedicated in case of Hub. It means a 10Mbps Hub divides bandwidth among all the clients. Another disadvantage of Hub is its broadcast of data. This is the reason for low bandwidth of a network having Hub. Hub has a single broadcast and a single collision domain.
There are two types of Hub:
- Active Hub: Active Hub can regenerate signals from nodes.
- Passive Hub: Passive Hub only performs interconnecting functions between nodes. It cannot regenerate signals.
A non-manageable Switch is like a Hub .It cannot be configured. However it has certain advantages .A Switch provides dedicated bandwidth in all its port. Minimum 100 Mbps bandwidth is guaranteed in each port of a switch. It can provide bandwidth like 1Gbps for Gigabit Switch. A Switch has more ports than a Hub. In case of a simple Switch it creates broadcast traffic but if a manageable or network Switch it eliminates broadcast completely. Switch works in Data Link layer.
A network Switch can be managed or configured by commands. It has functions of a simple switch like high bandwidth and more ports. Another feature is a network switch which can store physical address -MAC address of its clients in its MAC table. When communicating with clients a network switch unicasts its message though ARP and RARP protocols, it does not create network broadcast .A network switch has memory to store network configurations. Nowadays many networks use Layer 3 switches instead of router as it saves cost and resources.