Unicast, Multicast, and Broadcast

Broadcast

Broadcasts are traffic sent to all devices in the network. If the switch receives broadcast traffic on one port, it forwards the broadcast out all other ports. High levels of broadcast traffic can reduce network performance and, in severe ("broadcast storm") cases, can bring parts of the network to a halt.

Multicast

Multicast traffic is traffic addressed for a group of devices on the network. A common use is for multimedia applications. Generally, if the switch receives multicast traffic on one port, it forwards the traffic out all other ports. However, only devices within the multicast address group accept the multicast traffic. Multicast traffic can unnecessarily consume network bandwidth, resulting in reduced performance.

Unicast

Unicast traffic is traffic addressed to a single device on the network.


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