A network switch is a hardwired device equipped with multiple Ethernet ports designed to provide power over copper cables to any number of network devices such as access points, desktops, laptops, surveillance cameras, printers, NASs, and servers. Some more advanced ports are capable of providing power to connected devices with a feature called Power-over-Ethernet (PoE). The key benefit of PoE is that it saves on the cost of extra cabling, trenching, and installation.
In addition to Ethernet ports, switches have fiber ports, so-called because they run on fiber-optic cables, which can provide one thousand times more bandwidth than copper and travel more than a hundred times farther as well.
Switches inspect incoming traffic and make forwarding decisions accordingly. Switches are typically faster than routers because they don’t waste time examining the network layer header information. Instead, they look at the hardware address of each frame to decide what to do with it.
A switch knows which device is connected to a particular port and forwards a frame based on the frame's MAC address. This reduces traffic and tightens security.
More recently, industry has developed multi-gigabit and ten-gigabit switches that help futureproof your infrastructure. It allows you to switch from 1G (the speed of a "gigabit" switch) to 2.5G or 10G speeds.