GE ML1200 Switch User Manual

2.1.8 Frame Buffering and Flow Control
Multilink ML1200’s are store-and-forward switches. Each frame (or packet) is loaded into
the Switch’s memory and inspected before forwarding can occur. This technique ensures
that all forwarded frames are of a valid length and have the correct CRC, i.e., are good
packets. This eliminates the propagation of bad packets, enabling all of the available
bandwidth to be used for valid information. While other switching technologies (such as
"cut-through" or "express") impose minimal frame latency, they will also permit bad frames
to propagate out to the Ethernet segments connected. The "cut-through" technique
permits collision fragment frames (which are a result of late collisions) to be forwarded
which add to the network traffic. Since there is no way to filter frames with a bad CRC (the
entire frame must be present in order for CRC to be calculated), the result of indiscriminate
cut-through forwarding is greater traffic congestion, especially at peak activity. Since
collisions and bad packets are more likely when traffic is heavy, the result of store-and-
forward operation is that more bandwidth is available for good packets when the traffic
load is greatest.
When the Multilink ML1200 Switch detects that its free buffer queue space is low, the
Switch sends industry standard (full-duplex only) PAUSE packets out to the devices sending
it packets to cause “flow control”. This tells the sending devices to temporarily stop sending
traffic, which allows the traffic to catch-up without dropping packets. Then, normal packet
buffering and processing resumes. This flow-control sequence occurs in a small fraction of
a second and is transparent to an observer.
Another feature implemented in the Multilink ML1200 Switches is a collision-based flow-
control mechanism (when operating at half-duplex only). When the Switch detects that its
free buffer queue space is low, the Switch prevents more frames from entering by forcing a
collision signal on all receiving half-duplex ports in order to stop incoming traffic.
2.1.9 Managed Network Firmware for Multilink ML1200-Series
Multilink ML1200 comes with Version 3.3 management firmware, which allows the user to
configure the Multilink ML1200 as a Managed Switch and implements security, and other
software-enabled, features.
Multilink ML1200 managed switch will work with Version 3.3 firmware or higher only; using
any other firmware version will not support the hardware).