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LAN Switch vs SAN Switch: What Is the Difference?

September 27, 2018

Nowadays, many organizations are beginning to build their own storage system networks to meet ever-lasting demands of data storage performance, such as Local Area Network (LAN) and Storage Area Network (SAN). LAN is a group of computers and peripheral devices that share a common communications line or wireless link to a server within a distinct geographic area. SAN is a dedicated high-speed network or subnetwork that interconnects and presents shared pools of storage devices to multiple servers. In these two networks, there are two important components—LAN switch and SAN switch. What are they and how they differ from each other? Follow me, this article will give you answers.

What is LAN Switch and How Does It Work?

LAN switching is a form of packet switching in which the data packets are transferred from one computer to another over the LAN network. LAN switching technology is a vital part of the network design which helps to improve the overall efficiency of LAN and address the existing bandwidth issues. LAN switching includes mainly 4 types of switch: hardware-based Layer 2 switching, Layer 3 switching, Layer 4 switching, and Multi-Layer switching (MLS). All of these three layer switching (2, 3 and 4) are combined in MLS.


The LAN switch is a IP-based Ethernet switch which flexibly connects the transmitter and receiver through a network of interconnected ports and links to allow network resources shared by a large number of end-users. LAN switches are packet switches that support multiple simultaneous transmissions, reading the destination address of each frame and forwarding it directly to the port associated with the target device. The LAN switch serves the needs of a group of users and it can share common resources and intercommunicate frequently. Through the LAN switch, a great deal of traffic can be confined to relatively small LAN segments and overall LAN congestion can be reduced considerably.

What is SAN Switch and How Does It Work?

First of all, the SAN is a specialized high-speed network of storage devices and switches connected to computer systems. It physically decouples storage and host to make it possible to move data between various storage devices, share data between multiple servers, and back up and restore data rapidly and efficiently.

As for the SAN switch (also called Fiber Channel switch), it is a basic component of the SAN which is based on Ethernet protocol or Fiber Channel protocol. The SAN switch can allow administrators to set up path redundancy in the event of path failure from the host server to switch or from the storage array to switch. SAN switch examines the data packet header, determines the origin and destination of computing devices, and sends the packet to the intended storage system.

Differences Between LAN Switch and SAN Switch

LAN switch and SAN switch are significant parts of the LAN and SAN. But what are the differences between these two kinds of switches? The following parts analyze the differences between the LAN switch and the SAN switch.


In general, the LAN switch uses standard copper and optical interface and runs on IP-based Ethernet. The hardware-based Layer 2 LAN switch has the merits of high data transmission speed and low latency. It performances well in some features, like VoIP, QoS, bandwidth reporting. The Layer 3 LAN switch offers similar functionality as a router. As for Layer 4 LAN switch, it is an enhanced version of Layer 3 LAN switch which provides the additional applications like Telnet and FTP. Besides that, the LAN switch can support multiple protocols containing TCP/IP, TCP/UDP, IPX and Apple Talk. In a word, the LAN switch is an enterprise/advanced switch with the advantages of simple deployment and inexpensive price for your network.

A SAN switch is based on the iSCSI storage network and also a combination of Fiber Channel and iSCSI technology. The most vital function is that the SAN switch processes a more outstanding storage ability than the LAN switch. The SAN switch can also be an Ethernet switch. In the ideal situation, the Ethernet-based SAN switch would be devoted to storage traffic in an Internet Protocol (IP) SAN so as to maintain performance predictability. In the meanwhile, SAN switch can be combined to build large SAN structures that interconnect thousands of servers and storage ports.


LAN switch is available for Token Ring and FDDI networks, which have given way to Ethernet. LAN switch helps to improve the overall efficiency of local area networks and addresses the existing bandwidth issues with the good use of it.

LAN Switch Application.jpg

A SAN switch is designed for a high-performance network with low latency and lossless data transmission. Also, it specifically designed to handle heavy transaction loads over high-performance Fiber Channel networks.

San Switch Application.jpg

How to Choose a LAN or SAN Switch?

When you decide to choose your switch, you need to have a good understanding of what your requirements and needs are. The LAN switch is mainly used for Token Ring and FDDI networks featuring low-cost and high-performance merits. While SAN switch is available for a high-performance network with low latency and lossless data transmission. If you are looking for a switch using a file-sharing protocol like IPX, Apple Talk, then the IP-based LAN switch storage equipment is your best choice. If you are searching for a switch to support fiber channel-based storage, then you can deploy the SAN switch.

FS S3900 series switches are advanced and high-performance Ethernet LAN switches. They support abundant L2/L2+ features, including LACP, STP/RSTP/MSTP, 802.1Q VLAN, port mirror, RSPAN, ERPS, DHCP snooping and so on. In addition, the FS S3900 series switches can run on the storage network via IP SAN (including IP SAN and FC SAN). Equipping with robust hardware and enhanced stackable functions make them ideal for campus, enterprise networks and data centers.

Item S3900-24T4S S3900-24F4S S3900-48T4S
1GbE Port 24 24 48
Switching Capacity 128 Gbps 128 Gbps 128 Gbps
Physical Stacking Up to 6 Devices Up to 6 Devices Up to 6 Devices
Flash Memory 64MB 64MB 64MB
Packet 1.5MB 1.5MB 1.5MB
DDRIII Capacity 512MB 512MB 512MB
Switch Chip BCM56150 BCM56151 BCM56150
MAC Address Table 16K 16K 16K
Jumbo Frames 9KB 9KB 9KB
Airflow Fanless Front to Back Left to Right
Max. Sound Level 0 dB 52 dB 54 dB
Power Supply Dual Power Dual Power Dual Power
Input Voltage 100-240 V AC, 50-60 Hz, 0.8 A 100-240 V AC, 50-60 Hz, 1.5 A 100-240 V AC, 50-60 Hz, 1.5 A
Max System Power Consumption 21w 43w 45w


In a word, both LAN switch and SAN switch can provide a communications path for data and storage movement. But the LAN switch is based on IP while the SAN switch is based on the fiber channel. When evaluating your LAN or SAN switch, you need to take the performance requirements, supporting protocols and interface speed into consideration. If you are still puzzled about choosing the suitable LAN switch or SAN switch, come to the FS. We offer a variety of solution for your switch with different rates at anytime you want.

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